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Osama bin Laden Is Dead But Corporate Welfare Lives Forever

Zombie Walk 2010

Zombie Walk 2010 by rodolpho.reis, on Flickr

When I originally posted this on my own little blog the news cycle was all about Donald Trump’s hurt feelings after the White House Correspondents Dinner. I anticipated we would endure several more days of that narrative but, of course, events intervened and now our media mavens are obsessed with Osama’s death. But whatever the shiny distraction, this story rapidly disappeared down the memory hole.

The very serious Paul Ryan said oil subsidies should be ended at a town hall last week. Boehner also said as much a few days earlier. In response, the White House issued a statement on oil subsidies, saying in part:

While there is no silver bullet to address rising gas prices in the short term, there are steps we can take to ensure the American people don’t fall victim to skyrocketing gas prices over the long term. One of those steps is to eliminate unwarranted tax breaks to the oil and gas industry and invest that revenue into clean energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Our outdated tax laws currently provide the oil and gas industry more than $4 billion per year in these subsidies, even though oil prices are high and the industry is projected to report outsized profits this quarter. In fact, in the past CEO’s of the major oil companies made it clear that high oil prices provide more than enough profit motive to invest in domestic exploration and production without special tax breaks. As we work together to reduce our deficits, we simply can’t afford these wasteful subsidies, and that is why I proposed to eliminate them in my FY11 and FY12 budgets.

I was heartened that Speaker Boehner yesterday expressed openness to eliminating these tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry. Our political system has for too long avoided and ignored this important step, and I hope we can come together in a bipartisan manner to get it done.

The House Dems also issued a letter asking Boehner to take a vote on ending the cursed oil subsidies. I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that Boehner refuses to do so.

In fact, both Ryan and Boehner voted to extend those subsidies more than once and have no intention of ever ending them. Everybody who’s paying attention knows that, and also knows it’s unlikely to be mentioned again in the near future. Hells. It’s already old news.

I wish we would be talking about this for days on end. If we could sustain these kind of narratives we might even crack the cognitive dissonance that stifles our discourse. At least a little bit. Sadly, it’s much more likely we’ll be talking about how long Obama’s bump in the daily polls is going to last or whatever other horserace trivia next catches the media’s fancy.

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Libby Spencer

Libby Spencer