You, Too, Can Suckle the Government Teat
Senate Democrats yesterday unveiled an energy reform proposal that would eliminate roughly $17 billion in federal subsidies to the nation’s largest oil companies and apply a 25 percent "windfall profits" tax to companies not invested in renewable energies.
The bill arrives as gas prices are hitting record highs and the big oil companies — including Exxon-Mobil, BP and Shell — are recording record profits.
Republicans are howling, wondering why in the world we don’t just open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf to oil drilling. They need not worry. Even if the Democrats’ proposal sneaks through the Senate, it has no chance of becoming law (the White House threatened to veto a similar House bill in February).
Still, all this talk of eliminating oil subsidies has got the gas companies a bit on edge. And they’ve responded with a brilliant marketing campaign.
Open to A-5 today, and a full-page ad asks, "Do you own an oil company?"
It goes on to explain:
If you own mutual funds or a retirement account, chances are you’re among the tens of millions of Americans with a stake in the oil and natural gas industry. A recent study by economist and former Clinton Administration official Robert Shapiro found the majority of oil and gas company shareholders are "middle-class U.S. households with mutual fund investments, pension accounts or other retirement accounts and small portfolios."
So when Congress starts talking about raising energy taxes or taking "excess profits" from U.S. oil companies, look at the facts and ask yourself, "who does that really hurt?"
The message is clear: These subsidies don’t just give the gas company CEOs their enormous retirement packages, they also prop up financial health. Never mind the effect on the environment, or budget deficits, or the dubious geopolitical relationship with the Middle East — this is about .
As a friend pointed out: This is the genius of the Rovian push to create an ownership society. When we’re all invested, no critics will remain.