At the start of his first year in office, President Joe Biden claimed inflation that had started to rise after $5 trillion in federal pandemic relief spending was “transient.” This refrain went on for months, until it became clear that it wasn’t fleeting at all. Last December, Powell finally admitted that “it’s probably a good time to take that (transitional) word out.” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen herself admitted she misjudged the situation during recent congressional testimony.
As this duck began to lose its hiding place, Biden and his team resorted to the explosion of the oil industry for the rise in gas prices, with a White House official saying Reuters “…we use every tool at our disposal to combat anti-competitive practices in energy markets in the United States and around the world to ensure reliable and stable energy markets.” No one in the administration bothered to explain what “anti-competitive practices” were employed by an industry that, at the height of the pandemic shutdowns, saw the market price of its commodity fall below zero.
This shift in responsibility continued until March, when White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki unveiled the topic of discussion “Putin’s price hike” after the US invaded Ukraine. Russia, and a new narrative of blame-shifting was born. President Putin has become the ideal boogeyman for an inflation problem that Biden himself claimed to have been battling since at least the summer of 2021. The president on Friday during a press event at the Port of Los Angeles said, “We have never seen anything like Putin’s tax on food and gas.
But few buy it anymore. Biden has therefore focused on a new boogeyman – the “big corporations” who he says are “not paying their fair share” of taxes. On Friday, he pointed the finger at ExxonMobil
“We’re going to make sure everyone knows Exxon’s earnings. Why don’t you tell them what Exxon’s earnings were this quarter? Exxon has made more money than God this year and by the way, nothing has changed. One thing I want to say about the oil companies, talking about the fact that they have 9,000 drilling permits. They don’t drill. Why don’t they drill? Because they make more money without producing more oil. The price goes up first and second, the reason they don’t drill is because they buy back their own shares, which should be taxed frankly, buy back their own shares and don’t make any new investments. So I always thought Republicans were for investing. Exxon starts investing and starts paying your taxes, thank you.
Naturally curious what the folks at ExxonMobil might think about being singled out for this kind of ad hominem attack on corporate integrity by a sitting President of the United States, I requested comment and received the following response from spokesperson Todd Spitler:
We have been in regular contact with the administration, informing them of our planned investments to increase production and increase refining capacity in the United States.
We increased production in the Permian Basin by 70%, or 190,000 barrels per day, between 2019 and 2021. We plan to increase production in the Permian Basin by another 25% this year. We are spending 50% more on Permian capital expenditures in 2022 compared to 2021 and increasing refining capacity to process U.S. light crude by approximately 250,000 barrels per day, equivalent to adding a new medium-sized refinery.
We reported losses of over $20 billion in 2020 and borrowed over $30 billion in 2019 and 2020 to support our production investments globally. In 2021, total taxes on the company’s income statement were $40.6 billion, an increase of $17.8 billion from 2020.
The President of the United States is simply lying to us. The reality is that Exxon and other oil companies are drilling and investing on a large scale, both in the United States and around the world. They pay many billions in local, state and federal taxes. And if the government thinks that’s not enough, then Congress can change those laws.
Joe Biden was first elected to the US Senate half a century ago, in 1972, a year before the first Arab oil embargo. In the long years that followed, American politicians found no more convenient boogeymen to blame for rising inflation than “Big Oil” in general, and ExxonMobil in particular. Why expect old dogs to learn new tricks?
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Post expires at 1:49am on Wednesday June 22nd, 2022