Democrats wanted to defeat the motion so that they could bring up a bill penned by Rep. Tim Bishop (NY-01) to repeal the Section 199 domestic manufacturing tax credit for the five largest oil companies. The provision, part of a 2004 law meant to promote domestic production, allows corporations to reduce their taxable income by 9 percent under prescribed circumstances.
Although Democrats knew from the outset that there was no chance they would win on the procedural motion, they had hoped to get Republicans on the record at a time when American consumers are unhappy over rising gas prices and rising oil-company profits. By that measure, they succeeded.
Republicans claim Bishop's move was merely a political gimmick and not serious legislation—a technique they, of course, would never stoop to—and that they will consider cutting oil company subsidies as part of overall tax reform. In fact, Bishop's proposal is part of very serious and much-needed legislation that would eliminate not only the domestic manufacturing tax credit for the biggest oil companies but hit other subsidies as well.
If the tax credit repeal were passed, Bishop estimates it would generate $12 billion in federal revenue over the next decade, helping to bring down the deficit.
Today's vote allowed the Republicans to move ahead with a three-item drill-baby-drill legislative package that would, among other things, speed up leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and open up new leases off the coast of Virginia. All three bills are certain to pass the House and may pass the Senate as well even though they will likely have a harder go of it there.
Meanwhile, the prospect of a real energy package, a fact-based, far-sighted proposal that takes into account climate change and dwindling resources is about as far away as it's been since November 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected and redirected U.S. energy policy away from Jimmy Carter's imperfect but visionary plans. The clock keeps ticking. And our leaders plug their ears and keep singing la-la-la.