Editorial: Time for a change on oil subsidiesPublished 9:09am Monday, May 16, 2011
Oil executives took a run, Thursday, at defending the billions of dollars in tax subsidies that their companies receive each year from the federal government. It was hard to believe those arguments convinced anybody. Nor should they be convincing, because providing tax relief to some of the nation’s most profitable businesses just doesn’t make sense.
The oil execs were pleading their case to a U.S. Senate committee that was considering a proposal to end some $4 billion in subsidies. The plan understandably does not please the companies which benefit, or their supporters in Congress. For most Americans, however, the subsidies make little sense. Gas prices are punishingly high. Oil company profits are through the roof. The government faces a massive — and growing — deficit.
We recognize that ending the oil companies’ tax subsidies would represent a tax increase to those businesses, and that tax increases are abhorrent to many. But the reality is that handing out fewer tax breaks to oil companies would mean either fewer tax dollars coming from everyone else or a bite out of the deficit. So the question facing Congress and the American people is whether they are better off giving their dollars to wealthy oil companies or conserving them for larger needs.
For most, the choice is obvious: Use the money where it is really needed, not where it just adds to an already giant profit.