Let’s look back at some news from last month. This is a difficult task because wading through the morass of news reporting government corruption during the last month is, frankly, depressing.
A month ago, May 16, 2011, the Senate considered a bill would have cut $12 billion in subsidies for producing oil within the United States for Chevron, Shell Oil, BP America, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobile. The bill also proposed to eliminate $6 billion credits for taxes that the oil companies pay to foreign governments and another $2 billion by ending write-offs for certain drilling and development costs.
A former CEO for Shell Oil, John Hoffmeister, claimed the subsidies are unnecessary anyway, given high oil prices. Hey, a billion here, a billion there, we need to save all the billions we can, right?
The Senate voted on the bill with 52 in favor and 48 opposed. The bill lost. WTF you say, the bill had a majority and lost? Of course it did. A minority of Senators blocked the bill to prevent a real vote on the floor using plutocratic Senate cloture rules.
Representation in the Senate is already disproportionate, but to make it more so using the antiquated cloture rules ought to to unconstitutional. Three Democrats opposed ending Big Oil subsidies–Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) One can superficially understand why Landrieu and Begich voted against eliminating Big Oil subsidies. They know who butters their bread.
But what does Ben Nelson, from Nebraska, have to gain? It doesn’t take a PhD in mathematics to understand that a few well-placed bribes in the Senate can kill a proposal that would seek to diminish even a smidgeon of corporate power.
WMFM obtained recently obtained a document that seems to bear this out. I received a faxed copy of a letter or draft of a letter written on what seems to be Exxon-Mobil letterhead. The date is May 23, 2011.
The recipient’s name and address was redacted, but the letter’s salutation is, “Dear, Don” and it is signed by “Rex.”
The document supports my theory that oil companies and their ilk understand how they can advance their interests in the US Senate: “Given our continued success in the Senate, in that we don’t ever need a majority to block hostile legislation, I’m beginning to think we can scale back our contributions to our “friends” in the House. Even a 20% reduction could save us three or four million.”
It also offers a possible explanation of Ben Nelson’s vote against oil subsidies: “Thanks for your work with Ben Nelson. You were right about that guy. He’ll vote for anything that has a corporate logo attached to it. Maybe we should arrange for some more exploration in Nebraska to help him get re-elected. The yokels will know that they’re getting their money’s worth if they see a few derricks in the corn fields.”
The letter also demonstrates the contempt that rich assholes have for even the facade of the democratic process–a minor annoyance to be endured on the way to bigger and better things: “Most of them [members of the House] are useless as tits on a boar anyway. We can always point out that Democrats like the money just as much as Republicans.”
Read the document yourself and tell me what you think. I will continue to investigate its authenticity and report back in a future post. In the meantime, ask yourself, “Where’s my fucking subsidy?”