Newly Serious Budget Debate or Same Old Talking Points?

By April 11, 2011Energy, Taxation

Budgets and deficits and debt dominated the Sunday TV news-chat shows, and the partisans brought us a mixture of principled arguments and same old talking points.

Unfortunately, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) favored the latter in his appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” From the transcript:

SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER: You need to share sacrifice. And we believe that, for instance, defense cuts should be greater than Ryan proposed. You can’t– there’s waste there like everywhere else. And even more importantly there have to be revenues. If you’re going to reduce the deficit, how do you allow the oil companies to get huge subsidies? Which was based on a time when oil was seventeen dollars a barrel not a hundred? How do you give tax breaks for multimillionaires and companies that send jobs overseas and yet decimate middle class programs? So it’s got to be–
BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): You’re– you’re– you’re talking–
SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER (overlapping): –fair. It’s got to be fair and across the board.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But you say it’s got to include revenues so you’re talking about raising taxes?
SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER: Well, there are revenues in terms of oil company liabilities. There are revenues in terms of tax breaks to corporations that go all overseas. But I think many of us feel that tax breaks for millionaires is part of that shared sacrifice absolutely.

These were the same bogus arguments made against extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts last year, and Schumer’s attacks on “tax breaks for millionaires” are just a repeated bid for raising taxes on small business. Remember:

  • More than 70 percent of manufacturers file as pass-through entities and pay taxes at the individual rate. (See here and here.)

The accusations against oil companies are also old hat, as well as representing terrible tax, energy and economic policy. A study performed by Wood MacKenzie for the American Petroleum Institute last year reported, as per API: “Raising taxes on the industry with no increase in access could reduce domestic production by 700,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day (in 2020), sacrifice as many as 170,000 jobs (in 2014), and reduce revenue to the government by billions of dollars annually.”

Sen. Schumer’s policy prescriptions are not good, but what’s interesting is that they have also proved to be bad politics. Remember how the debate extending over the 2001 and 2003 turned out in last December’s lameduck session of Congress?

From The White House, Dec. 17, 2010, “The President Signs the Tax Cut & Unemployment Insurance Compromise: “Some Good News for the American People this Holiday Season.”

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Sanity says:

    I’m a small business owner (12 employees,) and I continue to be amazed at what I see as the unrestrained selfishness of U.S. business and various trade groups. There is ZERO interest in fairness or shared burden.

    The proposed tax change that petroleum groups are railing about will amount to $.003 or less on every dollar of petroleum industry’s 2011 U.S. revenues. Even if they pass on 100% of that to the consumer, that’s about 1.2 cents per gallon at the pump! In contrast, “market factors” will be responsible for 150-200x that price increase for gas at the pump in 2011!

    Americans have a fatal case of Stockholm Syndrome when it comes to the petroleum industry. We’ve lived under the fear of what it could do to us for so long, we’re afraid to even try stepping out from under its burden. The extent to which we expose the health of our entire economy and way of life to extremely volatile oil markets is unparallelled in any other market.

    If our nation must invest even a 1% increase in fuel costs today to catalyze and finally create a competitive market for transportation fuels tomorrow, we’d be ignorant fools to decline that opportunity.

    Without a competing alternative, oil IS America’s variable rate sub-prime mortgage, we have no idea what price it will demand of us, but we’ll either have to pay it or lose everything again…

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