get it home page promo

Rehberg backs oil industry tax breaks

2011-05-15T00:00:00Z Rehberg backs oil industry tax breaksBy MIKE DENNISON IR State Bureau Helena Independent Record
May 15, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Democrats are blasting away at U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., as a patsy for “big oil,” rapping him for not supporting repeal of oil-industry tax breaks, even as oil corporations rake in big profits.

But Rehberg, who’s taking on U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., in 2012, says he won’t apologize for his support of the oil industry.

“How can Democrats bash oil and on the other hand want (oil) money to support the schools and all the other things they want for the state?” Rehberg said last week. “Why continually bash the golden egg that has somewhat kept Montana in the black?

“Of course I’m going to be supportive of oil, and gas, and coal.”

Rehberg did tell a town-hall meeting in Columbus two weeks ago that “everything is on the table” when it comes to looking at tax breaks for the oil industry, and he told Lee Newspapers last week that he wants “to take a look at (oil industry tax incentives) and make sure they still make sense.”

But he’s not supporting Democratic proposals to cut back those subsidies.

Congressional Democrats, including Tester, are behind a bill introduced this month to repeal a 6 percent corporate tax deduction on domestic oil production for the “big five” oil companies, as well as a provision that allows oil companies to deduct their royalties paid to foreign government on foreign oil production.

The latter deduction reduces U.S. corporate income taxes for oil companies. Again, the bill would erase this deduction for the big five companies.

Tester said last week the bill ends $4 billion a year in “taxpayer handouts,” which allow big oil to write off foreign royalty payments, pay less federal taxes and subsidize foreign oil production.

“This bill has nothing to do with Conoco’s or Exxon’s ability to operate U.S. refineries or put Americans to work,” he said. “It has everything to do with holding their top-level executives accountable to all American taxpayers.”

Rehberg, however, said he doesn’t see why an oil company should pay both foreign and U.S. taxes on the same production, and that eliminating the domestic production credit doesn’t make much sense.

“If we can increase our independence from foreign countries by expanding production in the outer (offshore) shelf … then why shouldn’t we create incentives to have that opportunity to do it?” he said. “Those (wells) cost a lot of money.”

Montana’s top oil industry lobbyist agrees with Rehberg, arguing in a letter sent this month to U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., that eliminating these tax credits will harm Montana refineries in Billings and give an advantage to foreign oil companies.

“This legislation would increase gas and diesel prices and could jeopardize good-paying jobs in Billings,” wrote Dave Galt, executive director of the Montana Petroleum Association. “(We) urge you not to proceed with introduction of the legislation that will do irreparable harm to Montana’s refining industry.”

Tester said the tax changes that he supports and Rehberg apparently opposes are “about equity,” and that savings from eliminating the tax breaks would be used to help pay down the federal deficit.

“(Rehberg) has voted on the side of big oil all the time; that’s where his allegiance lies,” Tester said.

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(15) Comments

  1. Tempest
    Report Abuse
    Tempest - May 18, 2011 2:18 pm
    Take away the subsidies. Let the price of gas go up . . .

    That way only the people that use the gas pay the increase - not everyone. I know that food goes up when gas goes up, but again - only those using the product pay the price. I am really tired of seeing the companies post record profits all the while we are giving them subsidies. Maybe if they were to play on a "fair and balanced" field they'd (and we) would find out what they're really worth.
  2. 5kranch
    Report Abuse
    5kranch - May 15, 2011 10:52 pm
    Why is the Tax code over 3 thousand pages, because all Businesses have some lobbyist getting them a Tax Break. Our Congress has allowed this to happen( Both Parties) and now the democrats are crying that a certain business should not have any. Let’s see GE ( General Electric) made billions last year but paid no TAXES. How can this be, oh wait, Obama and the democrats cut a deal with GE to get into the green business. I am tired of the class warfare the DEMOCRATS play. From the businesses they don’t like, The Unions they pimp to, and don’t forget the race card they always bring up.
    I am no fan of the oil companies but petroleum products are no just oil and gasoline. There are thousands of products made from petroleum . Oil companies are not just here in the US, but are a worldwide operation. Their profit margin is not a lot, 3 to 5 %. But when you produce a lot, then the numbers become real big. To put in prospective, If Apple computers could sell the volume of I-Phones or all of its products at the same as oil companies do theirs, Then Apple would be the largest and richest company in the World. They would not be any company even a close second. Apple would still be able to write off a large amount of taxes due to our current system. If you want to take tax breaks away from oil companies, then take all tax breaks from every company. I tired of the politics both parties play. Lets do what is right. Treat ever business/company the same. No tax breaks. Everyone pays the same
  3. lampropeltis
    Report Abuse
    lampropeltis - May 15, 2011 9:30 pm
    Yeah steeline, libs are so upset that Rehberg openly sold out to big oil and Tester didn't. WE HAVE TO GET AMERICA RIGHT.
  4. lampropeltis
    Report Abuse
    lampropeltis - May 15, 2011 8:18 pm
    Rehbergs corporate whoring will be his undoing in 2012. No one in their right mind defends big oil, especially after you fill up your tank.

    That's ok republicans, keep defending the rich and big corporations. It won't help you at the polls.
  5. steeline
    Report Abuse
    steeline - May 15, 2011 5:43 pm
    Sounds like the extreme left is a bit miffed that Rehberg beat Testor to the oil donations. When the reason for the rift is fully understood by everyone, it makes sense. The Government paid "incentives" for developement and production of energy goes to all forms of energy producers. Now that being said, the doctorine of "equal protection under the law" says that if one energy producer gets the incentives they all do. Can't discriminate. I don't think a profitable business needs any incentives from the government. If the business isn't profitable, they don't need government incentives either. Why pay to keep a failing business in business, with tax payer dollars at that. The free market takes care of failed businesses as well as succesful businesses. There is no place for Government incentives in either case. We have to get America Right.
  6. meadowlark
    Report Abuse
    meadowlark - May 15, 2011 5:03 pm
    DonaldM said: "...therefor raise gasoline prices-which is what Democrats want."

    Yeah, because Democrats don't drive cars or heat their houses. LMAO!
  7. meadowlark
    Report Abuse
    meadowlark - May 15, 2011 5:01 pm
    Tempest said: "Denny in the pocket of big oil??!! Say it ain't so! That is just so hard to believe - he's always been for the little guy, right?"

    LMAO! hi-five!
  8. meadowlark
    Report Abuse
    meadowlark - May 15, 2011 5:00 pm
    How is this "news" exactly? He's just doing what he was paid to do. I don't blame the Republicans for doing this sort of thing. That's their way. Just like I don't blame corporations, banks and Wall Street for doing what they do. They are what they ARE. No surprises.

    I do blame the government for not regulating and stopping them. I blame the Democrats for selling out their roots.
  9. skooter
    Report Abuse
    skooter - May 15, 2011 3:40 pm
    how absolutely non-surprising. the multi-millionaire expert at nothing more than naming post offices wants to give away more of the deficit to the mega oli companies - and make you and me pay for the lost revenue by shifting the tax burden onto us (while they howl about deficits and spending cuts ...but never to any of their sacred cows/golden gooses...funny how that works). The fact that working people support the republican right as they take their money and literally hand to the top 5% in this country (and then actually act like its our duty to let the rich make more and pay less then us) is unconscionable. Maybe steeline is right (though of course not how he thinks he is)- because something sure seems wrong with that formula - and there's a long ling of people already commenting and soon to come who will ACTUALLY try to make it sound like good fiscal policy.

    Historically, anecdotally and in every way - this formula only works for one group. The rich. It pays nothing down. It takes for the middle and working classes. It doesn't create jobs. And it only shifts more of the wealth, power and governance into the hands of the few. THE EXACT IDEAS THIS COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED AGAINST. Look up Oligarchy and Banana Republic! You're practically living in one.
  10. Tempest
    Report Abuse
    Tempest - May 15, 2011 9:48 am
    Denny in the pocket of big oil??!! Say it ain't so! That is just so hard to believe - he's always been for the little guy, right?
  11. DonaldM
    Report Abuse
    DonaldM - May 15, 2011 9:26 am
    This is another example of Democrats class warfare strategy.

    The amount of profits means nothing out of context. You need to know the ratio of profits to sales; return on investment; and what is done with the profits-reinvested in research and development-very important for oil and gas.

    If taxes are increased then there is less available for development of more oil fields-which is what the Democrats want-less energy development.

    This will NOT reduce gasoline prices, but raise them, because these tax increases increase the cost of doing business; reduce the amount available for developing more oil wells; reduce the amount of new oil produced; thus effecting supply/demand and therefor raise gasoline prices-which is what Democrats want.
  12. mtbiker
    Report Abuse
    mtbiker - May 15, 2011 8:39 am
    Denny's argument is simplistic. We have to subsidize oil companies, he maintains, because "Those (wells) cost a lot of money."

    Well, so does paying for a college education if a person is low or middle income. But Denny has made a crusade out of cutting pell grants to young kids (most Montana high schoolers).
  13. PLG
    Report Abuse
    PLG - May 15, 2011 8:38 am
    Typical! Use this money to develop alternative and renewable energy sources instead of more Middle Eastern oil. This is just another out of date idea from the conservative Republicans. How about some new blood with new ideas?
  14. mtbiker
    Report Abuse
    mtbiker - May 15, 2011 8:36 am
    Rehberg is a hypocrite. He says he is against government spending, but he apparently is not against government spending that goes to HIS campaign contributors.

    Denny opposes pell grants for middle and low income kids--the vast majority of Montana high school students--who want to go to college.

    But he supports government giveaways to oil companies (including the largest company by value in the WORLD--Exxon) that are making record breaking profits.

    This shows that Denny does not have any kind of firm principles (other than money). His rule appears to be that he will only support government spending for those who donate significant amounts of money to his campaign, i.e., oil and gas.

    For everyone else--tough luck.

    I support higher education for Montana's children. And I believe that the wealthiest companies in the world should not be receiving government hand outs. Denny will not receive my vote.
  15. Sgravel
    Report Abuse
    Sgravel - May 15, 2011 6:29 am
    Tax breaks for the oil industry are all part of the strategic GOP "Path to Prosperity for Billionaires."

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters. If you receive an error after submitting a comment, please contact us.

If your comment was not approved, perhaps:

    1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).

    2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.

    3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.

    4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.

    5. You believe the newspaper's coverage is unfair. It would be better to write the editor at This is a forum for community discussion, not for media criticism. We'd rather address your concerns directly.

    6. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.

    7. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.

    8. Your comment is in really poor taste.

    9. Don't write a novel. If your comment is longer than the article you're commenting on, you might want to cut it down a bit. Lengthy comments will likely be removed.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick


Follow the Independent Record

Featured Offers & Deals

Great Helena Businesses

Clipped From The Newspaper