You've probably been hearing a lot about the budget deficit. And you've been hearing a lot about the evils of government subsidizing favored industries. And since a lot of this talk comes from the right, you'd probably figure that Republicans would be really eager to cut subsidies for oil and gas, right?
Okay, I'm sure you didn't think that. You'd be correct:
U.S. Senate Democrats took an opening shot by pushing an effort to take away $20 billion of tax breaks for oil and gas companies, portraying the move as a way to reduce the widening federal deficit. Republicans responded that raising taxes would hurt economic growth.
"We don't really believe you cut spending by raising taxes," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) told reporters.
In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said he wanted to eliminate $4 billion of oil and gas incentives to help pay for clean-energy initiatives. Such proposals are expected to be included in the White House's fiscal-year 2012 budget later this month.
Oil and gas companies, represented by the American Petroleum Institute, are trying to preserve the tax incentives.
Meanwhile, and relatedly, Matt Yglesias notes that Sen. Roy Blount is pushing to cut food stamps rather than crop payments:
The basic way that conservative politics works is that first you reduce taxes on rich people, creating a budget deficit. Then you rail against “spending” with reference to specific “weak claims” on the public purse. Then when it comes time to actually write a budget, you slash spending on “weak claimants,” vulnerable people with little political influence.
By the way, I noted the eerie familiarity of this photo of Blunt that accompanies Yglesias's item: