In a disastrous move on Tuesday evening, Senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman – the two sponsors of The American Power Act – bowed to big oil and voted against a provision that would have stripped $35 billion in tax breaks that the industry currently receives.
The Amendment was proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders as part of the “American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act,” and 20 other Democratic Senators joined Kerry, Lieberman, and the entire Republican delegation to defeat the amendment.
Kerry and Lieberman have been working on gathering support for their American Power Act for over a month and a half, but so far they have not been successful in securing enough Republican support.
It is possible that their votes to continue these tax breaks for the wealthiest industry in this country could be a compromise aimed at gaining more support for a climate bill – though this hardly makes this action acceptable.
In addition to being the most profitable industry in America, the oil industry is also the most heavily subsidized. This means that even though the companies are already pulling in billions in profits every year (some US$600 billion from 2000 to 2009), we’re also giving them as much as $35 billion in tax breaks.
These are the same companies who are allowing millions of gallons of oil to flow from on oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico. While that geyser might be BP’s fault, no other oil companies are sending their tankers or equipment to help capture the oil before it destroys our Gulf Coast ecosystems further.
The votes of Senators Kerry and Lieberman are wholly disturbing and signal that the two might not have their heads in the game or their hearts behind actually passing meaningful reform.
Kerry’s spokesman told reporters that while Senator Kerry supports repealing the tax breaks, “now wasn’t the time.” There are millions of gallons of oil being released into the Gulf of Mexico every day, and that has been going on for almost two months. If now is not the right time, when will it be?
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