Democrats seek to slash subsidies for ‘Big Oil’

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Democrats seek to slash subsidies for ‘Big Oil’

Plain Dealer – Democrats running the Senate are seeking to strip the five biggest oil companies of tax breaks that pad their profits by $2 billion a year and instead use the money to help defray the spiraling budget deficit.

New legislation unveiled Tuesday by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, would cut off immensely profitable companies like Shell Oil and Exxon Mobil from subsidies such as a deduction originally aimed at boosting manufacturing. The bill would also close a loophole that effectively allows oil companies to shield themselves from taxes by deducting royalties paid to foreign governments.

The top five oil companies have booked profits of $36 billion in the first quarter of this year alone. The Democrats say that at those levels the big oil companies wouldn’t miss the subsidies.

Republicans and a handful of oil state Democrats like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana are expected to filibuster the bill to death. An earlier version was opposed by seven Democrats on a filibuster vote in February, but Democratic leaders have now narrowed the legislation to permit smaller producers to continue to claim the subsidies.

The issue is back in the wake of comments last month by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who said in a television interview that Congress “certainly ought to take a look at” eliminating the subsidies. He quickly backed away from the comments.

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