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Public Statements

Imposing a Minimum Effective Tax Rate for High-Income Taxpayers--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

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Ms. STABENOW. Thank you very much, Mr. President. If the Chair would please let me know when I have used 5 minutes, I would appreciate that.

We have a very important vote in front of us that goes to the question of whether consumers are going to continue to be held hostage by basically having one energy source at the pump or whether we are going to give competition to the oil companies and if we are going to give consumers choice.

I believe we need to do everything; there is no question about that in my mind, but that doesn't mean having a Tax Code that has embedded in it for almost 100 years special tax breaks and subsidies for the oil companies, and the other new clean energy alternatives that are growing and creating jobs in our country do not have the same treatment. In fact, they limp along with a tax cut that expires every year, not sure if it is going to continue, which is what is happening right now.

People are losing their jobs right now in the areas of wind production and other areas because they are not sure what is going to happen. Yet we give preferential treatment to an industry right now whose top five companies are making about $260,000 a minute--a minute. For people in Michigan, the average wage does not equal $260,000 a year, yet $260,000 a minute in profits for the oil companies, and we as customers, as consumers, have the great privilege of on the one hand paying whatever they want to charge at the pump because there are no alternatives and not enough choices, and at the same time out of the other pocket we get to subsidize them.
One hundred years ago those subsidies probably made a lot of sense. I am sure I would have voted for them as we were starting the new industrial economy and incentivizing the production of oil certainly made sense. I still support the efforts for small businesses and local efforts, but the top five companies do not need taxpayer subsidies right now when they have the highest profits of any business in the world.

So what are we talking about? We are talking about--in tough times and budget deficits and when we need to be focused on jobs and getting us off of foreign oil--making choices that make sense for the future and not the past. That means closing down these special subsidies for the top five companies that, again, are earning profits of about $260,000 every single minute, and turning those dollars over to new clean energy alternatives such as biofuels, wind, solar, electric batteries, and all of the things that need to happen--including natural gas, which my colleague from New Jersey has been a champion of--so that we actually have real competition and we can actually go look at the price at the pump and say, you know what, it is too much; I am going to do something else.

We are beginning that process with new electric vehicles and I am proud that those are being made in Michigan. We have advanced biofuels right now. If we didn't have advanced biofuels at the pump in the few places we do, we would actually see prices a dollar higher on average than they are right now. So there is a little bit of competition, but we have a long way to go.

This bill takes dollars from subsidies that are no longer needed, that don't make sense from the American taxpayers' standpoint or an energy standpoint, and turns them over to continue 19 different tax cuts for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and those who are creating the new clean energy alternatives in the future.

Some of my colleagues on the other side have said that taking away government subsidies will increase prices. It is amazing to me that somehow Friday seems to increase prices; Memorial Day seems to increase prices. I think whatever the market will bear increases prices. But when the CEOs of the big five companies came to the Finance Committee I actually asked them--because folks are saying taking away government subsidies for them will increase prices. I said: How much do we have to pay you to bring down the price? Give me a number. How much do we have to pay you to bring down the price?

Finally, one of the CEOs actually said: Well, I did not say we would be raising gas prices at the pump. I did not hear anyone else say that, either.

So that is what they said. They were not willing to go on record as saying they would raise the prices at the pump.

Instead of throwing huge government handouts at some of the most profitable companies ever, we should be paying down the debt and we should be providing tax cuts for the jobs and the new alternatives for the future, and I urge my colleagues to support this very important bill.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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