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Do We “Subsidize” Oil or Do We Subsidize a Lie?

Sometimes a simple “No” vote isn’t enough. Sometimes you must rise to say “I cannot vote “Yea” to a lie.”

From David Haranya, of National Review Online May 16:

In truth, these oil giants are taking advantage of features of the U.S. tax code that are available to most corporations, and of a broad tax break that exists to encourage investments in the manufacturing sector (emphasis mine)…

…Further, the (oil) industry still pays an effective tax rate of 48.4 percent, compared with 28.1 percent for all other S&P Industrials, according to economist Mark J. Perry.

I’m getting out of the outrage game, moving on, as it were, but if you want to be miffed just search “Oil Executive Hearings” on Google to see what tops their list; LA Times, NY Times, WaPo, mugshots of Waxman (2008) and Markey (2010).

You must search hard to find points of view that define these oil companies as anything other than rapacious thieves.

Although all of the oil executives summoned before the Senate Finance Committee last week, in re “The Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act” bill,  (Great title, huh?) stated that they really didn’t need these $4 billion in tax cuts when oil prices are high, they steadfastly refused to accept the notion that what they’re getting is a special “subsidy.”

And of course, they could prove it. They do their books and pay their taxes just like everyone else.

So, the facts and figures aren’t really in dispute. Oil companies made enormous profits because of skyrocketing oil prices, in part due to the Obama Administration’s moratorium on drilling and his foreign policies in the Middle East. But they also paid record taxes, not just in real dollars, but a rate 70% more than other producers.

What should be in dispute here is the Big Lie (just one of several) and the unwillingness of Democrats, including Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, who strongly opposes the bill anyway, to admit to the fundamental truth here as to the existence of a special criminal status that has been accorded the oil industry.

If the Congress wants to single out a single industry for special tax treatment, so be it. It can even be punitive. They did the same thing in 1980 with the Wind Fall Profits Tax, only they can’t do that now because GE actually had a higher annual jump (10.3% in 2008) than did Exxon, although paying virtually no taxes at all because of, I assume, what are perfectly legitimate tax loop holes.

With the government’s current power to pick industrial winners and losers, we should expect to see many “most-favored companies'” earnings propel. So a 10% net annuals earnings jump won’t work any longer. Krupps and Schacht did splendiferously when the Third Reich ran off all their competition.

But Congress shouldn’t be allowed to say they “are stealing it” and get away with it.

True to form, the government must invent a non-existent “subsidy,” then an unreasonable theft of that subsidy, so it can then rush in to recapture it…and to save us all…all in the name of justice, fairness and the American Way. No wonder Superman wants to become a Transylvanian.

Thus is born yet another Big Lie.

But for deja vu, listening to some of the give and take between the oil execs and senators (if you can bear it) was sheer Orwellian or Randian.

WATSON: I don’t think the American people want shared sacrifice. I think they want shared prosperity, and what we have to offer, Senator-

ROCKEFELLER: Oh, just no- lovely statement, but do you understand how out of touch that is?

GLOR: The oil executives argue that raising their taxes could cost jobs, and they say lead to even higher gas prices.

In this case Ayn Rand’s scenario was more on point. I used to joke twenty years ago that someday they would eventually say that common sense is radical thinking, and here, in living color is a US senator stating that reality, not to mention mathematical certainty, is “out of touch”…presumably with a more preferred reality.

If you can recall Hank Rearden’s trial in Atlas Shrugged, or want to listen…

…imagine the surreal nature of two people speaking about a “thing” which is apparent for everyone to see, yet one…the one with power, refuses to see it. (For you Rand fans, the teaching wisdom for our purposes here is the judge-interlocutor’s insipid questions rather than Reardon’s answers.

For our purposes in this current war, this is not a rah-rah moment of victory but a sober reminder of the nature of the Enemy we are dealing with. We need to understand the nature of the Lie.

I suspect yes, that there are two separate realities involved. And it is this false reality that we can no longer afford to subsidize.

I’m sure this was just a show trial, and a vote likely won’t even result. We’ve seen them before. But we are getting perilously close to the edge…and going over. (Listen to Rand again and compare with the several senators in this hearing, or even the gobsmacked Republicans who can only reply with a wonkish citation of facts and figures.)

It won’t be enough to vote “nay” on this bill. Men steeped in reality must state, for the record, they cannot vote “aye” to lie.

Moreover they should require, as far as humanly possible, that everyone voting “aye” do so by avowing, Yea, there is in fact a deep truth embedded in this vote, and they believe it to be true.

Of course this would not deter Senators Rockefeller, Schumer, Reid, or the semi-witless McCaskell, and others but I want to hear Mark Warner, Jim Webb, Joe Manchin, and several more US senators who claim to have at least one foot in reality, place their other foot on a banana peel on the Senate floor and swear this one thing.

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