Menendez: GOP Stands With Big Oil, Not Middle Class Families

Menendez: GOP Stands With Big Oil, Not Middle Class Families

***Click Here for video of Menendez's Senate Floor remarks before today's vote***

Washington - After days of debate on the floor of the U.S. Senate over whether to end taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil, today Republicans rejected a bill authored by Senator Robert Menendez that would have ended taxpayer-funded loopholes to five of the largest, most profitable oil companies in the world (Big 5) and use those savings to invest in clean energy and reduce the deficit. While the bill received a majority of votes (51) normally required to pass, it fell short of the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican-led procedural hurdle.

"Today, we had a very simple choice to make -- stand up for hard working middle class families struggling with sky high gas prices, or stand with Big Oil executives raking in record profits with the help of taxpayer-funded handouts," said Menendez. "With their votes, Republicans said loudly and clearly that they're on the side of Big Oil. I will keep fighting for middle class families, for fairness and against these ridiculous, needless subsidies."

Immediately before this morning's vote, Menendez spoke for the third time about his bill, the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act.

His remarks:

"As I have been monitoring the debate, I keep hearing over and over again from our friends on the other side of the aisle that if we just keep giving the oil companies taxpayer money, that they will do the right thing. They will produce more oil and they will lower the price of gasoline.

"The problem is, we already know that's just not true. First of all, the US only has two percent of the world's oil reserves, so we cannot drill our way out of this problem even if we wanted to. But more importantly we cannot trust the Big 5 oil companies to simply do the right thing.

"Let's look at the record. Last year the Big 5 oil companies took $2 billion of your money and saw their profits shoot up to $137 billion. An impressive 75 percent increase in profits. Did they use that extra money or our subsidies to produce more oil? No, they didn't. They took your money and didn't produce a drop more oil.

"Despite the fact that overall US oil production is higher now than it has been in eight years, last year these five companies actually produced 4 percent less oil. Here is another way to look at it. As each of these companies pocketed our subsidies to pad those profits, they did not use this windfall to produce more oil.

"If you take the word of our friends on the other side of the aisle, we have a contract with these 5 companies. We pay you $2 billion and you give us more oil. Last year they broke that contract and produced less. So instead it appears that these poor oil companies took the taxpayer's $2 billion and instead of having to suffer with only $135 billion in profits, they made $137 billion in profits last year.

"What a heartwarming story of Robin Hood in reverse. Taking from the American taxpayer to give to the rich. Congratulations! Big Oil. You get $2 billion extra in profits and we get 4% less oil!

"But of course we are not just seeing less oil, we are also seeing the American Driver gouged with higher gasoline prices.

"So what happens when taxpayers are forking over $2 billion in subsidies a year to highly profitable oil companies who in turn produce less? We get a double whammy with $4 gas at the pump and a bigger burden on taxpayers. How is that a fair return on our taxpayer dollars? It's pretty generous to Big Oil, which stands to profit a $1 trillion over the next decade, while getting $24 billion in subsidies, but its a bad deal for consumers struggling to make ends meet.

"So first, the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act takes back $24 billion in taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil and stop the insanity. But the next step this bill takes is investing in alternatives to oil. Biofuels, natural gas, propane and refueling infrastructure for these fuels as well.

"By investing in these alternatives we finally give Big Oil some competition in the marketplace and that will give consumers the choice to use cheaper fuels and also drive down gasoline prices.

"For these reasons I urge my colleagues to join me in getting back to reality and stop subsidizing industries that need it the least and start investing in the 21st century industries that will help us compete with China, that will create jobs, that will improve our environment and make us more energy secure.

"It is time we stopped trusting Big Oil to do the right thing with our money and use it on things that actually make sense."

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