A group of 10 Senate Democrats has written to Speaker of the House John Boehner and other House leaders asking them to reduce the budget deficit by eliminating unneeded subsidies and tax breaks for oil companies.
In the letter, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Patty Murray, D-Wash., Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said Tuesday they agreed with the need to cut spending. They said ending giveaways for oil companies would save at least $20 billion over 10 years.
“This is just one example of a wasteful item in the budget that could be cut in order to make a down payment toward reducing nation’s deficit. If the House chooses to adopt this suggestion, it would represent a good first step towards cutting spending in a bipartisan way,” the senators wrote.
Oil companies have posted record profits in recent years, they pointed out. Last month, Exxon reported a 53 percent boost in profits, making it the company’s best quarter in years. And Chevron’s fourth quarter income jumped 72 percent.
The House and Senate must agree by March 4 on a spending measure to continue funding the government. House Republicans have said they plan to enact major cuts below current spending levels and last week, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan set a goal of $32 billion below current levels. House Republicans have yet to specify which programs would be reduced in order to meet this goal, but are expected to begin doing so this week.
Senate Democrats said it is necessary to cut waste and excess, not make deep cuts in the programs that are helping families, businesses and the economy.
“We believe that the question before us is not whether we should do any cutting, but what exactly should be cut,” the senators wrote. “So, as you consider spending-cut ideas for the remainder of this fiscal year, we ask that you focus on cutting programs that are wasteful and inefficient, as opposed to those that help create jobs and spur economic growth.”
However, a spokesman for Boehner told The Wall Street Journal that ending the tax break would constitute a tax hike and not a spending reduction.
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