Imagine that, for absolutely no logical reason, the government was about to mail you a check for $4 billion, but some people want to stop you from getting that check. How much would you be willing to pay to make sure you got your hands on that $4 billion?
The selfish rational answer is, you should be willing to spend however much it takes, up to $3,999,999.
This is basically how the big oil companies see their $4 billion-a-year subsidies, and why, despite all the Democratic populist rhetoric over the years, and strong polling, it still exist. Big oil should be and seems to be willing to spend what ever amount it takes from their last massive corporate welfare check on political donations, PR, and lobbying to make sure the undeserved billions keep coming.
According to Opensecrets.org, oil and gas interests spent $145 million last year on lobbying and $30 million on political donations. While a huge amount, that is still well below their theoretical logical limit on even just this one issue of many. You could say big oil hasn’t even begun to fight.
It is possible the public disgust combined with blatant deficit hypocrisy will cause Congress to soon end this no matter how much of the corporate welfare the oil companies funnel back into Washington’s many veto points, but given how many years this and similar egregious tax breaks have continued to exist, the odds are still against it.
How to stop this problem
Obviously, the sensible thing to do is not allow corporations to use government money to legally bribe politicians for even more government money. Of course, corporations are not only going to fight for the right to be able to keep doing this, but to be able to do it in secret.
In addition, you can make these tainted campaign donations far less appealing to politicians by providing public financing of elections.