U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth announced at a Louisville gas station today that he will soon introduce a bill ending the $38.6 billion in subsidies set to go to oil companies — who continue to make record profits — over the next decade instead redirecting those funds to taxpayers struggling with rising gas prices.
The bill would give a one-time payment of approximately $160 per registered vehicle.
Last year, the five biggest oil companies earned $137 billion in profits, while making $4 billion in subsidies — or as they might call it, tax breaks.
“It’s American families who struggle when the price of gas rises, not oil companies whose record profits only increase when we pay more at the pump,” Yarmuth says. “That is why I’m introducing legislation to end taxpayer-funded subsidies for oil companies and return that cash to consumers.”
The legislation would instruct the Internal Revenue Service and the Secretary of the Treasury to work with states to oversee and distribute the rebates to individuals and businesses for each vehicle owned or leased for over one year.
Tricia Burke — president of the Louisville-based Office Environmental Company, which supplies office products and furniture — spoke at the press conference, saying the bill would save her business $800, as they own five vehicles.
“The concept is to get people through these summer months, when the gas prices are expected to spike,” Yarmuth tells LEO Weekly.
Ending such subsidies or tax breaks for oil companies has been criticized by Republicans, who say it will raise gas prices, even though a May 2011 report by the Congressional Research Service found that there was little evidence for such a conclusion. Most Republicans have also signed the tax pledge of Grover Norquist, who believes that ending such breaks for oil companies would be a violation of the pledge.
“Well, that’s why I introduced this bill,” Yarmuth tells LEO. “The oil companies have spent tens of millions of dollars buying influence with legislators. And the only thing that’s going to change that is voter engagement. And this is a way that the average voter can put a price tag on continuing those subsidies. OK, I could continue those subsidies, or I could get my $160 per car. And once consumers actually understand the direct benefit or cost of the proposal, they get engaged.”