Groups compare cost of social programs to Big Oil giveaways

The Wisconsin Gazette

The newly released Fossil Fuel Subsidies Tradeoff Calculator at compares the cost of government giveaways for Big Oil to the cost of social programs, including food stamps, higher education grants, health care for veterans and other government services.

Groups fighting for racial and economic justice are joining communities of faith and environmentalists to remind federal lawmakers that welfare for polluters is an unacceptable use of public money. As federal programs that feed the hungry and heal the sick struggle for funding, oil and gas companies continue to drain billions of U.S. tax dollars in the form of subsidies and other special interest giveaways.

Some examples:

• A tax credit for manufacturers that Big Oil unfairly claims is equivalent to 78,282 slots for disadvantaged children in the Head Start Program.

• Royalty-free leasing in the Gulf of Mexico is equivalent to 531,461 Pell Grants for low-income college students.

• Government research and development programs that benefit fossil fuel companies are equivalent to average annual medical care for 192,905 combat veterans.

“Leaving the social safety net in tatters and keeping Big Oil on the dole is not just a failure to prioritize. It is a failure of conscience,” said Lukas Ross, climate and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “In the face of record inequality, crumbling infrastructure, and looming climate disruption, it is time for Congress to think hard about the government spending we need and the corporate welfare we don’t.”

“U.S. taxpayers know what the nation’s spending priorities should be — dignified jobs, resilient infrastructure, affordable health care, education without crippling debt, a clean environment,” said Janet Redman, director of the climate policy program at the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington DC-based think tank.

“It’s an abomination that while Americans are working every day for a transition to a more sustainable, more equal and more democratic economy, members of Congress are willingly trading off our future for the short-term profits of fossil fuel executives. They should be ashamed — or better yet, fired,” she said.

“Our tax dollars should be invested in programs that lift up the American people not funneled to our country’s wealthiest corporate polluters,” added Allison Fisher, energy and climate outreach director at Public Citizen. “This calculator demonstrates the exact opportunity cost of continuing to shower Big Oil with government handouts. And those costs are less dollars being spent on education, healthcare for our veterans and other critical social programs. That needs to change.”

On the Web …

Find the calculator at