Exxon and the art of whining (or how to make $11B with taxpayer help)

Economy.jpgIt takes an incredibly warped sense of corporate entitlement for a company to believe it
 deserves taxpayer subsidies when it reports a quarterly profit of nearly $11 billion.

But that’s what we saw on Thursday when Exxon Mobil Corp. released its first quarter report. The giant oil company said it earned $10.7 billion, its largest quarterly profit since the 2008 third quarter when gasoline prices were even higher than they are now.

Along with the financial report, Ken Cohen, Exxon’s vice president for public affairs, published a lengthy statement on the company’s Perspectives blog defending Exxon’s soaring profits and blasting politicians for daring to protect taxpayers’ interests.

I’m happy for Exxon and its ability to suck huge profits out of the world economy. When U.S. companies do well, they create jobs and spend money.

But it is the height of arrogance for incredibly profitable companies to take taxpayer subsidies when they don’t need them. The subsidies in question total about $4 billion a year for the entire oil industry. I don’t think the profits of Exxon — or any of the other Big Oil companies — would suffer if the taxpayers held on to that money.

Here’s some of what Cohen posted on the blog:

We understand that it’s simply too irresistible for many politicians in times of high oil prices and high earnings – they feel they have to demonize our industry.

Predictably last week the Administration established a task force to investigate oil and gas markets, now a time-honored tradition when prices increase.

And we’re seeing a return to the now-familiar misinformation about the oil industry’s taxes.

Over the last week as earnings season has approached, the Democratic Party leadership again talked about removing what they call $4 billion in oil industry subsidies. But what they really mean is that they want to increase our taxes by taking away long-standing deductions for our industry while leaving these same deductions in place for other sectors of the economy. The simple truth is that these are legitimate tax provisions to keep U.S. industry internationally competitive – to keep jobs from being exported to other countries.

Personally, I’m having a hard time dredging up any sympathy for Exxon.

Here’s Cohen’s complete blog post:

ExxonMobil’s earnings: The real story you won’t hear in Washington

If you feel like letting your Representatives and Senators how you feel about ending Big Oil subsidies follow the links below for contact information.

House of Representatives

U.S. Senate

Photo: In this April 20, 2011 file photo, gas prices above five dollars a gallon for Plus and Supreme octanes, are seen on a sign at a gas station in Washington. Americans saw their incomes rise in March and this spurred higher spending. But much of the extra money went to pay for more costly gasoline.(AP/Susan Walsh)