Pelosi: GOP Budget Subsidizes Big Oil At Expense of Seniors' Medicare

By Edwin Mora | May 6, 2011 | 4:03 PM EDT

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Washington ( – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House Republican budget for 2012 asks seniors to “pay more for less” Medicare benefits so that oil and gas companies can receive tax breaks.

At a Capitol Hill press conference on Thursday, Pelosi commented on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) budget proposal for 2012 by citing deficit reduction under President Bill Clinton and adding,  “Democrats know how to reduce the deficit. We had to do it before.  We will do it again, and we will again do it in a way that has fairness to it.”

Pelosi continued, “Again, not saying to seniors you have to pay more for less so we can give tax breaks to Big Oil; to saying to seniors you may not be able to stay in a nursing home because we are giving tax breaks to businesses to send jobs overseas; to saying to our kids and to our children we are going to cut the education budget and make college more expensive for nearly 10 million young adults so that we can give tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country.”

Pelosi also said that the House Republican proposal from Rep. Ryan, The Path To Prosperity,  “continues to give subsidies to Big Oil while it calls upon America's seniors to pay more for Medicare and receive less in terms of benefits.”

“If we were to end a big part of those subsidies, we could save $31 billion over 10 years,” she said.  “The Republicans say that Big Oil needs these subsidies as an incentive to drill and yet for the first quarter of this year the big five oil companies had profits of over $30 billion.”

In the first quarter of 2011, one major American oil company, ExxonMobil, generated $2.6 billion in earnings in the United States but it also paid $3.1 billion in government taxes, according to its public revenue filings. Between 2005 and 2009, ExxonMobil alone paid $63 billion in U.S. taxes. Its worldwide taxes in 2009 totaled $81 billion.

Also, according to the American Petroleum Institute (API), U.S. oil companies paid nearly $150 billion in income taxes to the federal government between 2004 and 2008. And, overall, “the industry generates almost $100 million a day to the federal government,” reported API.

(AP photo)

Pelosi went to say that she is backing President Barack Obama’s call for Congress to pass legislation that would end tax breaks (subsidies) for oil companies, and has written to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to have Big Oil “pay its fair share.”

“We will be putting forth legislation to end tax breaks for the biggest oil companies, making sure that these companies pay the royalty that is due the American people and taxpayer,” said Pelosi. “We will combat price gouging by the industry, raising the price at the pump.”

According to the Federal Highway Administration, the government (federal and state) takes an average of 48 cents on every gallon of gasoline sold in the United States.

“We will be talking about in a timely fashion perhaps a release of oil from the SPR [Strategic Petroleum Reserve],” she continued. “This is important, not only to increase supply, but also to send a clear message to speculators that they do not call the shots.  The price at the pump is affected by the harmful speculation of some.”

“Again, how we strategically use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is going to be very important and probably one of the quickest ways to take down the price at the pump,” she also said.  “Many others are investments so that we do not find ourselves in this situation again.”

During his weekly press conference, also on Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the SPR is should only be tapped during extreme emergencies.

In the GOP budget proposal, Rep. Ryan (R-Wisc.) says that the changes to Medicare "will not affect those in or near retirement in any way. when younger workers become eligible for Medicare, they will be able to choose from a list of guaranteed coverage options, enjoying the same kind of choices in their plans that members of Congress enjoy today. Medicare would then provide a payment to subsidize the cost of the plan."