During the last three months of 2011, the five largest oil companies doing business in the United States reported combined profits of about $32 billion. One analyst estimates that from 2001-11, the same companies raked in $1 trillion in profits.
Obviously, big businesses such as these need no help from taxpayers. Yet they enjoy substantial breaks in the U.S. tax code.
An effort in Congress to end $24 billion in tax breaks for Big Oil failed last week.
But if the Senate were to approve the breaks, some members wouldn't want to use the money to reduce the spending deficit or provide tax relief for hard-pressed American families. Instead, they'd want to use it for new subsidies for the energy industry, including companies and activities favored by President Barack Obama.
New tax breaks for "renewable energy," electric cars and energy-efficient homes would replace those for oil companies, under some politicians' plan.
Billions of dollars in taxpayers' money already have been wasted in renewable energy subsidies for companies such as Solyndra. Even with hefty subsidies, electric cars don't appeal to most people. Yet some in government want to continue giving much more money than they should to support these efforts.
Congress should end the oil company breaks, but not replace them with another boondoggle.