When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) forced Tuesday's vote to repeal $21 billion in cash giveaways to America's biggest oil moguls, no one expected the proposal would garner the 60 votes needed to end debate and move it to a floor vote. As expected, the procedural measure failed to gain cloture along a mostly party-line 52-48 vote.
The two Republicans joining all but three Democrats voting for cloture were, predictably, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Ben Nelson (D-NE), chose to pander to the Oily Ones, as did all the other Republicans.
The Democrats' bill would have cut tax subsidies to the Big Five oil companies, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, BP and Shell, that combined to rack up more than $31 billion in profits during the first quarter of 2011. Knowing Republicans would filibuster the bill, Reid moved for cloture Monday night, forcing the Tuesday vote, and forcing Republicans to go on record as oil mogul toadies who scream about cutting every government expenditure except multi-billion dollar giveaways to well-heeled corporate cronies.
Reid would have been stunned if he'd gotten cloture, and if the bill had passed. The bill had a bit of a constitutional problem, and would never have gotten a House vote, even if the GOP-controlled chamber had any notion of backing the measure.
"The question is, if the bill passes the Senate, it will run into a blue-slip problem," Reid said. In fact, any legislation that raises revenue must originate in the House of Representatives. As the Dem's oil subsidy slasher would have raised revenues by $21 billion, it was a constitutional no-no.
Reid and his merry cohort could care less about that. More to the point, Democrats got Republicans on record supporting tax giveaways to oil companies, and will get to bludgeon GOP colleagues for demanding cuts to every program under the sun while coddling some of the richest corporations on Earth at a time they were posting some of the biggest profits in history.
"Quite simply, we are talking about making drastic cuts to programs that touch the lives of almost every person in this country. Except for them," said Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).
Reid said he was confident some version of oil subsidy-killing would be included in upcoming clashes over deficits, budgets, and debt ceiling hikes.
Reid's move already created plenty of You Tube fodder, as when Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) whined the party whine that Democrats were just picking on oil companies because they were making obscene amounts of money.
"Really, there's no policy justification for it other than that they can afford it," Murkowski said. "Is this the kind of business climate we want for the United States?" Murkowski whined on. "And I really have to wonder, then, if the answer to that is 'yes,' who the next target will be, if making larger profits signals to Congress that you should be taxed at a higher rate?"
Ohmigosh! Taxes on profits! Heavenstobetsy!
Geez, Lisa, or can I call you Murk, that's sort of the point of income tax, isn't it? Besides, Murk, these here aren't even taxes on income. It's about not giving billions of dollar bills to oil moguls to stuff into strippers' g-strings.
Republicans cannot shake the disembodied voice in their heads that says government exists solely for toady politicians like Murkowski to steal money from ordinary folks and hand it the richest, most powerful evil Lords of the Earth as brazen favor-currying. Increasingly, it has become obvious to anything with an organized central nervous system that Republicans only care about handing ever larger piles of cash to their wealthy overlords in the form of tax breaks, subsidies and grants, and paying for it by gutting services for everyone else, all in the hope of getting themselves free rounds of golf and complimentary botox injections for life.
Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Tom Coburn's (R-OK) move to end $6 billion a year worth of ethanol subsidies ran into similar opposition from Republicans decrying the move as a "tax increase" on big corn producers. Meanwhile, Republicans were paying for subsidies and giveaways by stealing little kids' lunch money.
Every Republican in creation has been shrieking about budget deficits and slashing every program that doesn't directly hand cash to some corporate mogul, potentate or tycoon. Rep. Paul Ryan's GOP budget proposal started with handing the richest Americans another 10% tax cut, moved on to slashing trillions in services for everyone else, and culminated in forking all the money in Medicare over to insurance company cronies while ditching future seniors with worthless coupons the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office figured wouldn't cover a third of the cost of premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and other expenses. The Medicare-busting was quietly shelved when four-fifths of America descended on GOP town hall meetings and threatened to rip Paul Ryan's creepy blue eyes out of his pasty matinee-idol face, but the big tax breaks stayed in.
Republicans are so committed to Medicare couponization, that, despite the general public's indifference toward the permanence of Ryan's baby blues, they've been tearing up poor old serial philandering Newt Gingrich for semi-dissing Ryanization. And, they haven't even started on plundering the Social Security trust funds on behalf of their Wall Street cronies.
So, Harry Reid and his Dem pals had an excellent adventure punking Republicans into fighting for oil company tax breaks, but the Republicans probably didn't even get it. Hopefully, the American people will.