As gas prices explode at the pump and angry Americans pour more gasoline on the fire of consumer outrage, Senate Democrats dragged, kicking and screaming, the CEOs of the five big oil companies to Capitol Hill today.
As you know, tough times always need whipping boys. And flogging the CEO during a crisis is a favored tactic of whichever party is carrying the big stick of control at the moment. As the chiefs of Big Tobacco, automakers and Wall Street already can attest.
The marquee CEOs and their suits crisper than a bag of potato chips sitting in the crosshairs represented Shell Oil Co., ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP America, and Chevron Corp., companies that booked profits totaling $36 billion during the first quarter while you and I were forking over $4 a gallon and making our wives and children walk to the store.
Senate Democrats have put a bull’s-eye on Big Oil and want to eliminate a raft of tax breaks for just the top five oil companies. Dubbed the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, the bill would eliminate tax subsidies for the five largest oil companies and direct those savings to pay down the deficit. Total deficit reduction: $21 billion over 10 years.
The Democrats say with Big Oil’s profits skyrocketing toward the moon, the big companies wouldn’t miss tax breaks that average $2 billion a year.
Of course, this will come as no shock to anyone, but the oily CEOs would rather surrender their posh country club memberships and instead play golf at Village Greens than lose their tax breaks.
Granted, Republican Orrin Hatch was spot-on when he called today’s hearing a dog and pony show — a point he drove home with a visual aid.
That’s exactly what it was because the bill has virtually no chance of winning congressional approval. It’s merely a move designed by the Democrats to put Republicans on the defensive and capitalize on public anger over rising gas prices.
And gag me with the 3-iron Tiger Woods used to blow himself out of The Players Championship this morning for saying this, but the Big Oil chiefs don’t control prices at the pump.
Gas prices are at the mercy of fluctuations in the price of crude oil, which seemingly is affected by everything from the weather to politics to the global economy to CD sales to National League attendance to ballooning property taxes in the Wilson School District.
Since the Big Oil CEOs apparently serve no purpose except to collect paychecks fatter than the losers on The Biggest Loser, wouldn’t it be grand if we could eliminate them as well as their tax breaks?
Then again, I’d love to grow bangs again and that ain’t happening anytime soon.