How would you feel if we told you that fossil fuel companies are benefitting from global subsidies of 14.5 billion dollars a day? That’s $600 million an hour; $10 million per minute; or $168,000 per second. According to a new estimate by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in the three seconds it took you to read this oil, natural gas and coal companies have made benefitted from $336,000 in global subsidies. The United States contributes $700 billion a year to these subsidies; subsidies that President Obama has asked Congress to end since he took office in 2009, but Republicans have fought him every single time. Now, how would you feel if we told you that while GOP lawmakers have refused to eliminate those expensive and harmful subsidies, they have repeatedly cut food stamps? That’s exactly what is happening and it is outrageous!
The IMF, one of the world’s most well-respected financial institutions, said the point of their paper was to give an updated picture energy subsidies at the global and regional levels. A large majority of the their 5.3 trillion dollar subsidy estimate is due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on the world’s governments for burning coal, gas and oil. Included in these costs are the harm caused by local air pollution and the global affects the fossil fuel industry has had on climate change. The IMF says that if we cut global subsidies we could reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent. In the United States that is exactly what President Obama has been saying for years.
In 2009, at the United Nations global warming summit, President Obama called for world leaders to phase out subsidies so that climate change could be addressed. In 2011, he proposed that the United States do away with them in his budget proposal; and in 2012 he did the same thing, calling the subsidies outdated and encouraging the investment into renewable energy.
Not only do these subsidies hurt the global environment by adding to climate change, but they also hurt low- and middle-income families. The IMF found that “energy subsidies are a highly inefficient way to provide support to low-income households since most of the benefits from energy subsidies are typically captured by rich households.” Basically, that money isn’t trickling down to the rest of us, like the rest of the promised Reaganomics dollars.
Republicans were outraged that the president wanted to invest in renewable energy. They have convinced their base that climate change isn’t real, even though 99 percent of the scientific community believes it is. We have lawmakers throwing snowballs on Capitol Hill as a way to disprove science (seriously) and we have a governor who banned the term “climate change” in his state. They do this because their party is the biggest recipients of campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry, so they don’t care about the rest of us.
While the GOP fights to keep these subsidies ($700 billion) for the oil, gas, and coal industry, they continue to completely screw over the poor by cutting funding for the SNAP program. They claim that the U.S. doesn’t have enough money for the program– which accounted for a little over $74 billion of the 2014 budget. In 2013, $5 billion was slashed from the food stamp budget. That cut affected 47 million low-income American families. This year, they proposed a budget that would kick 11 million families off of the program.
This is the typical Republican policy of pandering to the rich at the expense of the poor. They don’t have any problem giving billions of dollars to rich corporations who are hurting not just the U.S., but the entire world; but they have a huge problem helping people who work two and even three jobs to support their families and still don’t have enough money for food, on top of denying our people access to healthcare. All of this because at the end of the day, the monied elite who run those corporations that are destroying our environment and starving our people have bought the Republican Party wholesale, and the GOP would rather see our nation burn than let their wealthy backers miss out on some profit.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.