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Thursday, May 12, 2011 11:10 am

GOP House chooses big oil over Granny

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Now, let’s check today’s sports scores: 4, 10.7 and 21-and-a-half.

Those tallies are from the oil league, and the winner, of course, is the league’s powerhouse, ExxonMobil.

Four, as you might have guessed, is the $4 that Exxon is siphoning out of your wallet these days for 1 gallon of its petrol.

Next comes 10.7. That’s the $10.7 billion in profits that this oil giant has soaked up in just the first three months of this year – a new record, not achieved by any managerial genius, increased productivity or improvement in customer service, but solely by the jack-up in gasoline prices.

Finally, 21-and-a-half. This is the big score made by Rex Tillerson, Exxon’s CEO. The chief pulled down $21.5 million in personal compensation last year, making him the highest paid executive in the oil league and one of the most richly paid CEOs in the entire country.

Wait ... this late-breaking score is just in: 0. That’s from the special tax game that ExxonMobil consistently wins in Washington. Last year, ExMo powered through loopholes created by its slick lobbying team to pay an income tax of zero on the $19 billion it had racked up in profits the year before. But, wait again, here’s a surprising update on that score: Exxon’s taxes were actually less than zero! How’s that possible? Because Big Oil’s lobbyists have so skewed the tax system that Exxon was able to extract a $156 million rebate from us taxpayers last year.

So Exxon is soaking us at the gas pump and sacking our public treasury to gain record profits for itself, while bestowing a royal fortune on its CEO. It wins, we lose.

With a record like that, you wouldn’t think the oil league would need more handouts from government – but then, you’re not a Republican congressperson.

The GOP recently pushed its appropriations priorities through the House, touting the bill as a revolutionary, politically responsible, tax-saving piece of legislative art.

Well, art is in the eye of the beholder. The Repubs “saved” money by essentially killing Medicare and drastically slashing Medicaid, Head Start, EPA, food stamps, and dozens of other popular and effective programs that Americans overwhelmingly support. Having taken their blunt budget ax to these programs that support our nation’s notion of the common good, GOP leaders then scampered to save one of the least popular and least effective federal programs on the books: the annual taxpayer subsidy for Big Oil.

As gasoline prices were rising toward $4 a gallon and higher, House Republicans voted unanimously to let the oil giants continue siphoning $4 billion a year out of our public treasury. All 241 of the Republican/tea party House members – with not even one dissenter in the bunch – declared that in this time of a supposed budget “crisis,” the neediest among us are not the elderly and the poor, but the little waifs of Big Oil.

 As Casey Stengel once asked of the bumbling New York Mets team he was managing, “Can’t anyone here play this game?”

Meanwhile, ExxonMobil just announced a 69 percent leap in profits this year, while Chevron, ConocoPhillips and others are enjoying similar jumps in theirs. Guess what percentage of those enormous profits the corporations are likely to pay in taxes?

Zilch. Last year, ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhilips each banked multibillion-dollar profits, yet far from paying even a dime in taxes, all three worked the loopholes to get multimillion-dollar refunds from us.

Republican lawmakers had a clear choice in dealing with the deficit. So why did they choose to cut off your granny’s health care, while helping these corporate billionaires make off like bandits? I guess it’s a matter of who you really love.  

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist and author.

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