"Deficit Hawk" Sen. Coburn Wants To Cut $11 Million In Tackle Box Tax Breaks, But Retain $21 Billion In Giveaways To Big Oil

September 22, 2011 2:27 pm ET — Jamison Foser

Sen. Tom Coburn

When President Obama criticized tax breaks for big oil companies during his address to Congress about job creation, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) lashed out: "[S]ingling out and ridiculing tax breaks for oil companies while touting tax credits for renewable energy doesn't move us any closer to the kind of fundamental tax reform we need to stimulate real economic growth and job creation."

Yesterday, Coburn sent a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the so-called "super committee" tasked with coming up with a plan to reduce the deficit) outlining "twelve proposals to eliminate and reform government spending through the tax code." Coburn's proposals include things like ending tax credits that encourage energy efficiency and placing a five-year cap on the Earned Income Tax Credit. He even includes $11 million in savings over ten years from ending the "Tackle Box Tax Break," a perfect example of the kind of obscure, tiny savings that Coburn uses to promote himself as a tireless scourge of wasteful spending but that would actually do pretty much nothing to reduce the deficit.

Meanwhile, there's a glaring omission from Coburn's letter: tax breaks for big oil companies, which Coburn wants to retain. The oil and gas industry is Coburn's third-largest source of campaign funds, and Coburn wants to leave in place tax breaks that give the five biggest oil companies $21 billion over ten years. What might a senator who wasn't beholden to Big Oil say about Tom Coburn's approach? Maybe something like this: "Singling out and ridiculing tax breaks for tackle box manufacturers while defending tax breaks for big oil companies doesn't move us any closer to the kind of fundamental tax reform we need to stimulate real economic growth and job creation."

Coburn's omission of the oil company tax breaks from his recommendations is further evidence that his criticism of Obama was disingenuous at best. He doesn't actually mind "singling out" specific breaks for ridicule, or partial solutions that "don't move us any closer to ... fundamental tax reform." He just wants to protect the oil companies that helped him become a senator.

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