Presidential politics could use a dose of the facts

To hear President Barack Obama in last night’s first presidential debate, you would think he was running against ExxonMobil this November given his tendency to single us out for criticism.

In a discussion of ways to address the federal deficit, the president repeated incorrect claims that ExxonMobil receives what he termed “corporate welfare.”

Because we’ve been pulled into this debate, I feel like asking the moderator to let me respond with several points.

The first is that ExxonMobil receives no special treatment in the U.S. tax code.

What the president often calls subsidies for “Big Oil” are legitimate tax provisions that apply to virtually all American manufacturers and producers. In fact, companies like ExxonMobil actually are specifically disadvantaged: The oil and gas industry deduction under section 199 of the tax code, for instance, is lower than the deduction allowed for nearly all other U.S. manufacturers.

The president has said he wants to remove these provisions for the oil and gas industry entirely – a punitive proposal that would do nothing except raise the cost of producing the energy that America needs to support economic recovery.

Keep in mind, too, that ExxonMobil’s U.S. tax expense amounts to more than $1 billion per month. In 2011, our total U.S. taxes of $12.3 billion exceeded our U.S. earnings by almost $3 billion, and our effective income tax rate in the U.S. was 31.4 percent – far higher than many critics have claimed. We are a large corporation with a disciplined business approach that has generated substantial earnings for our shareholders as well as energy for millions of U.S. consumers. Our earnings may be large – but so are our taxes.

Finally, there’s one more thing we do with the money we earn: We re-invest it. ExxonMobil plans to spend close to $37 billion for each of the next five years on forward-looking projects to develop the energy supplies the world will need in the decades to come.

Much of that money will be spent right here in the United States, which is why the Progressive Policy Institute recently hailed ExxonMobil as an “Investment Hero“ for our substantial U.S. capital investments.

Misleading attacks on oil companies like ExxonMobil have become a staple of some candidates during election time. And while such an approach may produce sound bites for the evening news, they do nothing to provide voters with the fundamental facts about the U.S. energy industry or the many ways we contribute to our nation’s economic growth, public treasury and international competitiveness.


56 Comments

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  1. Ken West says:

    Bravo, Mr. Cohen. So glad you have set the record straight. Keep up your good work.

  2. NORBERT FLYNN says:

    I echo the thanks for correcting the facts, but suggest one further step… Since xom has been pulled into this game then lets play. Mr Tillerson should be on ever Sunday talk show this week. It is time real business people with true business ethics started educating the American voters rather than leaving it to the misinformed talking heads who think they are journalists.

  3. bill hill says:

    Ken I like XOM’s willingness to voice their opinions…please keep it up. Afterall most Americans own a piece of XOM in their pensions or mutual funds, even the “environmentalists”.

  4. Jan Chabot says:

    Right on! So glad to hear XOM speak the truth, the American public needs to know. Suggest you heavily publicize your rebuttal to Obama administration lies and pandering.

  5. Judy Lawson says:

    I am absolutely thrilled that you are correcting the facts. You have made my day!

  6. deane pradzinski says:

    Mr Cohen, I am just an ordinary mom and wife who depends on cheap gas to get me to work. I am sick and tired of the assault on your company by a radical, leftist segment of our population who have been reading the propaganda so willingly pumped out by a biased media. You must come out swinging with news articles that lay out understandable lessons in where your money comes from, where it is invested, how it impacts our daily lives (Tupperware!!). Petroleum is used for every area of our daily lives. Solar panels will NEVER substitute for fossil fuel. The American people need to know how vital your company is to the lifestyle we enjoy! You must invest in a forward (I hate using that term now!) aggressive media campaign to reaches housewives (like me) and kids (how much of their ‘toys’ are made using fossil fuels!) and America at large. There is a concerted effort to take you out and return America back to some delusional fabrication of an idyllic village and we must smash that vision with TRUTH. Commercials that show kids playing with Legos, then show each toy in their room disappear as the squeeze of ‘Big Oil’ continues. You must make it real to people! Bring it home to every household. I AM COUNTING ON THE FACTS THIS CAMPAIGN SEASON; if the CEO’s do not stand up for America we will see a continued squeeze on American business and our very livelihood!! FIGHT FOR US!!

  7. john elliott says:

    I think as a strong corporation that you should be very careful about what you boast about. Record profits, and record compensation to top officials within your organization won’t win you any friends. With record high prices at the pumps, your customers are really starting to feel the pain. Don’t forget that the only true power we have is how, when and where we choose to spend our dollar. I choose not to spend mine with you. Until I see a major change in your business model, no matter how good your products may be, I will make other choses. I’m only one but more will follow.

    • Steven Stewart says:

      John,
      I was glad to read your posts. I agree with each of your points. And I am very sure there are many more of us.

      Ken,
      I have real difficulty with the ethics that are revealed in Exxon Mobil’s advertising too. I’d like to see your “Let’s Fix This” campaign target the most important piece of unfinished business that you have. Clean-up, rehabilitation of habitats and realistic disaster prevention plans implemented. Until these becomes your highest priorities, your “Let’s Fix This” ads are redirection that insults the public’s intelligence.

    • Trevor Pinnix says:

      Thank you, John. I concur wholeheartedly. I am a foster parent with two children in my care, retired, receiving a small Social Security check, a stipend for the children, and going to school full time so that I can re-enter the work force and be able to support myself. I am one of the 47% who does not pay any Federal taxes. Of course, when Mr. Romney made that ludicrous statement, I am sure he was not thinking clearly because, although, I do not pay any Federal taxes, I do pay property taxes as well as local and state taxes. And when I pull up to the pump, I pay another tax that no one seems to think about and that is the exuberant “gas tax”. While you brag about the amount of “substantial earnings” your shareholders enjoy, and the fact that the President has dissed your company in some way because he made a reference about it receiving “welfare” and you are upset about that, I would like to see you upset for the “little” people who do not enjoy substantial earnings and work on giving us a break at your pumps! If you can donate billions over the next five years on “forward looking projects”, it shouldn’t be too difficult for you do reduce your prices at the pumps. Until you do, I will choose to spend my dollar at elsewhere.

      • David Deal says:

        I would be interested to see how much tax is put on each gallon of gas you buy by Federal, State and Local governments. I have yet to hear any government agency indicate they will reduce taxes to help lower the price at the pump. If the oil companies do not make money, they will not stay in business and we will all be back to riding in stagecoaches. In fact, most oil companies do not make a lot of money at the pump. The real money is made when people go in the stations and buy beer, cigarettes, chips etc. But no one complains about those prices.

      • Eric S says:

        You really don’t have a clue as to how the price of gasoline is set, do you?

      • bill parker says:

        Mr. Pinnix, Mr. Romney never made a ludicrous statement, it was an admission of truth to hardworking people whose money is stolen at the point of a gun to be given to people that choose to not work. Your vote is bought with a bribe by the very people that charge you that “exorbitant gas tax”. ExxonMobile provides a product that most of value as the good thing that it is. Even at $4 a gallon, we pay less than most other countries. Instead of moaning and complaining like the whiner that you are, be thankful and see this asset for what it is. In the late 1800′s when horses and wagons hauled product New York City was plagued with huge amounts of horse feces. Just think about that for a moment, the stink, the flies, and it had to be forever cleaned up and hauled away. Another problem was the horses that died, a 1800 lb. animal dead in the street. They found it easiest to let rigormortis set in and then dismember the carcass and dispose of it. You still want to whine about gas pollution, then do so and be the silly ass that you are. Thank God for the benefits that companies like Exxon Mobile and others provide for this nation. When you finish your “formal” education why don’t you do something useful with your life and quit complaining for a change.

    • David Deal says:

      I think you need to explain, what you feel, is flawed in ExxonMobil’s business model. Lets see – they make money (capitalism), they reinvest earnings and create jobs, they pay dividends to millions of people that hold their stock including teacher, fireman and police retirement funds. They risk billions of dollars to attempt to fuel the thirst the world has for hydrocarbons and their Return on Capital invested is less than Pharmaceutical and Banking companies.

    • heather doerr says:

      Why does success bother you so much? Liberals make political decisions based on emotions. You should re-consider the facts and understand that business-minded people should be making financial decistions not politicians/lawyers. It is a fact that government doesn’t have a successful record with spending our tax dollars.Why would we want to give them more?

    • ailene sckioerf says:

      Very well said. Sorry, Mr. Cohen- you will sell gas at US pumps no matter WHAT your tax rate. We know it; you know it. And we will buy gas at US pumps no matter the cost. We know it; you know it. As a family of three struggling to meet living expenses, college tuition, and try to plan for the future on about $55,000 a year with no employer sponsored healthcare insurance, it’s hard. So forgive me for having no sympathy for oil companies and your RECORD profits. You’ve all done very well in this recession, and I suspect you will continue to- good for you. Now suck it up and get ready to pay higher taxes to the US. And hallalujah- we have 4 more years of a US president looking out for HIS middle class. Your blog sounds like you were fully anticipating (dare I suggest, relishing??) a Romney victory. You didn’t get it, and may consider addressing OUR president in your blogs with a tad more respect. Might bring you a little more respect from people like me, though I don’t imagine that matters much to you.

      • Mark Larsen says:

        You are off base.

        Spend an hour or two learning how oil, natural gas, and gasoline prices are actually determined, how holding shares in a company works (and why, believe it or not, profits are important), how XOM makes its money (a very small portion of revenue comes from gasoline), how many companies make RECORD profits nearly every year due to inflation, and how Exxon’s is currently not making RECORD profits and is actually underperforming currently due to drops in WTI and Brent prices among other things.

        Grow up.

      • Mark Larsen says:

        Not true. Basic arithmetic clearly shows that at a certain level of taxes, the commercial sale of gas (or any one industry for that matter) becomes insufficiently profitable compared to the expenditures required to enter into it versus other industries or projects. You’re logic is flawed.

    • pascal dequoi says:

      Sounds like the old politics of envy here: ExxonMobil makes a profit, apparently too much of one, according to john elliot, and they choose to pay bonuses to upper management. I wonder if john elliot feels the same way about his bonus? What record high prices?

  8. john elliott says:

    Don’t believe everything you”re told people.. Do your own homework, and don’t take one huge congomerates spin as fact. There is no such thing as clean coal, the keystone project should be stopped in it’s tracks. There are better ways to invest in our future. If we don’t learn from our past, we are doomed to repeat it.

    • Dave Romin says:

      Right on! Let’s stop this madness. Maybe we should heat our homes with wood chips, drive our cars with windmills, and read by light of whale oil.

      Maybe we could be just a bit frivolous and use electricity for our computers, tv’s,cell phones, washers, driers, ovens,etc.

      • pascal dequoi says:

        Dave, you’re forgetting solar power. One day, one solar manufacturer should be in business long enough to provide solar powered cars. Oh wait…they all went out of business after giving their executives big bonuses that used up all of the government grants (apologies to john elliot).

    • Roger Halstead says:

      And just what would we gain by not going ahead with the Keystone pipeline Vs going ahead? The tar sands will be developed and used whether we install the pipeline of not. The fuel will be used world wide, whether we go ahead of not. The think is, IF we go ahead it means thousands of jobs, not just for the pipeline, but refineries, and billions of dollars coming INTO the country. The only thing that happens if we do not go ahead is the jobs and money will go some where else while all else remains the same.

  9. Tim Dibble says:

    My radical thought is to eliminate the taxes on corporations entirely. They simply get passed on to the customers/taxpayers and shareholders anyway. Taxes should be paid by the entities receiving the money, the shareholders.

    While I cringe reading Mr. Cohen’s whining, complaining that his industry pays more than others. I must remind him that life, as is business isn’t fair. If you are managing your business and making money, then you can’t complain the system isn’t fair. If you can’t make money because things are stacked against you, then complain. Stop whining when your goal is to make more money. Oligarcy is not the way of this country. The rich do not rule, they become targets of the people. You make that much money and you must expect to be a target. Whining about the fairness of the system when you are making obscene profits is stupid.

  10. Phinupe2000 KAY says:

    Ummmmm. If your article is clearly based on the facts, let’s include “all” of the facts. Exxon paid zero taxes in 2009 so the Prez wasn’t too far off the marker. Exxon does have tax breaks…the company has operating leases and there are tax breaks when you obtain leases…Secondly, your tax expense was $31 billion and you paid only $12 billion, which means you deferred (didn’t pay) $19 billion. That $19 billion would go a long way in helping to reduce the deficit. I wish I could defer my taxes (without penalties) until I find more tax shelters to not may them. More importantly, Exxon, the richest company in the world, effective tax rate was only 13%, around the neighbor of another rich famous guy named Mitt Romney who only paid 14%….I’m certainly seeing the parallels here…you make more money, you pay less taxes. The good old God Bless America way…

    I would hope that in 2013, Exxon use some of its profits by giving the America people a break at the pumps…thats how you stimulate the economy by putting money in the hands of hard working Americans…not sheltering your taxes.

    • Jericho Arcuri says:

      Did “the prez” also tell you that Exxon maintains approximately 83,000 employees who all pay taxes (both sale and income) and that if Exxon were always forced to take the maximum hit on its taxes, it would most likely have to downsize (resulting in a loss of employees and income tax revenue from those employees)?

      For someone who lectures large companies about how important it is to ‘put money in the hands of hard working Americans’ you sure don’t seem to care too much about hard working Americans.

      You also don’t seem to understand that simply because a large company doesn’t pay that specific tax does’t mean that it isn’t contributing to society. Exxon employee tax revenue accounts for a huge amount of federal revenue and in the long run that revenue may be more useful than ’19 billion dollars’ in a single shot.

      [That $19 billion would go a long way in helping to reduce the deficit. ]

      Actually the difference in the deficit you would make by throwing ’19 billion dollars’ at the problem would be completely negligible.

      19 billion dollars won’t make a dent in the national deficit. It might make a difference in the sustainability of a company work force, however.

      [More importantly, Exxon, the richest company in the world, effective tax rate was only 13%, around the neighbor of another rich famous guy named Mitt Romney who only paid 14%…]

      Not to sound cruel or dismissive but a one lump tax payment of “13%” of what Exxon produces is more than you and everyone you know will give to the government in your entire life.

      More to the point, what they give back to the country through employment opportunities (and a very decent salary) is worth a lot more than what they (legally) defer in taxes by working abroad (which is where most… read more »

      …of their 2009 profits came from).

      You want more money coming to the US from Exxon mobil?

      Lobby to give large companies greater benefits for doing business here. The rest will follow naturally.

      But whining because you think the company is refusing to throw its limitless money out the window to make you happy is tired and insufferably ignorant.

      Exxon mobil is putting money in the hands of nearly 100,000 hard working Americans every day.

      When was the last time ‘you’ handed a pile of money to a “hard working American” to stimulate the economy?

      And no, giving your friends in your low-rent political science class money for pizza doesn’t count.

    • Roger Halstead says:

      Zero taxes: Perhaps we should consider how taxes are computed. You pay taxes based on gross income minus expenses which is NET income. You are then also allowed deductions. For a corporation to have zero taxes means they have a lot of valid expenses and/or deductions which I would think would include exploration, expansion, and renovation. Equipment I would assume is like other corporations where you can write off depreciation of equipment and there are capital investments. Normally zero taxes means one of two things. It is a good indication of a dynamic corporation, or one that is in serious trouble.

      Yes, the oil industry and some others can make huge profits…sort of. The information I have is they do it on a very narrow profit margin. Published figures are six cents per gallon (give or take) Percent wise, this is the same as the corner grocery selling a $2.00 box of cookins for a 3 cent profit. In Michigan we pay 19 cents per gallon state gas tax.

      BTW once something has been depreciated, when that item is sold even for junk it is considered ALL profit. I don’t know about what large corporations can “expense” as in capital expense.

      In many industries and particularly those that have to deal with the EPA, when you get up in the morning you are quite likely to find you are dealing with regulations that weren’t there yesterday or have at least changed. Then there is that question of taxes where you have the same situation. Will you still be using the same tax code, or will it have changed requiring the hiring of a team of consultants, costing millions. The present administration has resulted in a very unstable business environment and particularly so for small businesses… read more »

      …that can not afford to hire individuals or teams to handle taxes and regulations.

      “To me”, if I see a corporation paying zero taxes it means they are a dynamic corporation and that is good for the tax payers, investors, and country. Of course you need to look at the balance sheet to make sure they aren’t another Solyndra. BTW the balance sheets for Solyndra resulted in many of president Obama’s advisers telling him it was not a good investment, but he went ahead anyway and WE the taxpayer ended up footing nearly 3/4 of a Billion dollar bad investment that his own advisers told him wasn’t a good idea.

      Obama is neither a knowledgeable investor, or manager and is too arrogant to listen to his own team of people who know what to do, or at least some of them. Many of them are also anti capitalistic as well.

      People who do not understand the business environment, or economics, or how taxes are computed, see zero taxes as someone getting away with something, or cheating the rest of us when that is not “normally” the case. Certainly there are individuals and corporations that do cheat, but the costs from doing that far exceed the costs of paying up front.

      I’d also say there is a big difference between complaining about unequal treatment, or being singled out with unfair and inaccurate accusations and whining, which I did not see in the original blog article.

      • Ray Hill says:

        @Roger – I have to say that you have put together a great response in support of your employer and your party’s positions. The arguments, in a vacuum, seem sound. But, there are certain areas your should work on. For instance the comment,

        “People who do not understand the business environment, or economics, or how taxes are computed, see zero taxes as someone getting away with something, or cheating the rest of us when that is not “normally” the case.”

        Until I got to that point in your post I was sure you were a GOP member. Lo and behold, you throw this insult directed at Mitt Romney and it completely caught me off guard!

        I’m assuming that your insult was directed at Mitt Romney for his now infamous 47% remarks – to whit you cite as proof that Mitt Romney not only doesn’t understand how taxes are computed or economics you insult his understanding of the business environment!

        Bravo! Your post stripped Romney of the one strength that most people had been in agreement upon. Don’t forget to cast your vote today, Obama can use all the votes he can get today.

        • Mark Larsen says:

          We’re talking about corporations…

          Also, Romney was able to get away with low taxes because he does not earn ordinary income, and instead gets taxed on dividends and capital gains taxed at 15% and 20% respectively, a tax deduction which George Bush initiated but which Barack Obama extended and is about to extend again. Additionally, Romney donates a great deal of his money which serve as tax deductions, a fact which was sadly under-emphasized during the campaigns but is still valid.

          As a two-time voter for Obama as well as Tim Kaine (my Democratic governor), your radicalism offends me and I judge you hard.

    • pascal dequoi says:

      They do pay more taxes, regardless of what you claim with your teacher’s union-schooled math. What’s more, 35% of $80,000, or 14% of $20 million? the percentage is not the key, just the final amount paid. who pays more?

  11. D Miller says:

    The information that is missing is the royalty paid to local, state and federal governments each year.

  12. Conrad Masterson says:

    I am proud of ExxonMobil for standing up to the slander that comes from the Whitehouse. I wish more corporations would set the record straight. I also wish corporations would back the facts with “public service ads” to back their positions. I would be proud to work for a company like XOM.

    • Ray Hill says:

      I don’t believe any of the comments/reports/speeches put forth by the Whitehouse has “slandered” XOM. Unless you truly believe that the WH has done actual harm to XOM – if they have does that mean that they have also done harm to all other oil companies? Where exactly is the slander that you speak of – by saying that XOM enjoys tax breaks by exploiting the flaws in our tax code? I think you may need to reevaluate your original post after you learn the definition of slander and what constitutes slander. I’m pretty sure that XOM, would be considered a public-figure in this case anyway, especially after Exxon Valdez, so I’m not sure that it’s even possible to slander the company which continues to sit at the top of the Fortune 500.

      • Timothy Willoughby says:

        Let me take just a moment to educate you since your spouting off slander this and slander that. Generally speaking,
        Defamation is the issuance of a false statement about another person, business, our any entity, which causes that person, business, our entity to suffer harm.
        Slander involves the making of defamatory statements by a transitory (non-fixed) representation, usually an oral (spoken) representation.
        So yes out right lies to every American causing Exxon and all fuel companies to look like THE greedy corporate thieves causing the entitlement class to be poor is SLANDEROUS. As clearly stayed above they are the main reason the economy is still holding slightly above GREAT DEPRESSION! Millions of jobs with extremely small %profits while providing great compensation to everyone involved…..From secretary to mailroom clerk, from roustabouts to Rig bosses, and EVERY SINGLE investo and there are millions!!!! Its not only with the duel that they.kee us moving! They literally make 10% of what the tax is on a gallon of gas that is called profit. Please don’t display anymore of these uneducated remarks. It makes you look very stupid!

  13. samuel superla says:

    My understanding is that the Keystone Pipeline is a pass-through as far as the USA is concerned, with the oil destined for offshore, not USA energy independence. Can you tell us exactly, in terms of percentages per barrel of oil, where the Keystone Pipeline end products going?

  14. Thomas Clement says:

    Facts? We don’t need no stinkin’ facts!

  15. David McQueen says:

    Mr. Cohen, you seem surprised at Obama’s demagogeury of ExxonMobil! Can it be you are so naive as to think Obama’s Marxist ideology can survive without a straw man to vilify? Obama’s not making “misleading attacks” on ExxonMobil, he’s simply lying. It’s called “progaganda”, Mr. Cohen, and it’s SOP in the war on capitalism. Maybe if you’d stop being so nice to the man who wants to kill your industry, the USA wouldn’t be in the precarious position it is in today.

  16. mike dar says:

    “a dose of the facts”, being only 1/2 the facts are all either Govt or Buisness
    provides to the public, questions remain.
    In fact, the narrative in this article sounds just like any ‘news’ from any Govt official. I wonder whom learned from whom.
    On the subject of U.S. earnings , how much was negated as royaties to subchapters off shore?
    Frankly, President Barack Obama is Exxon’s best friend. Without the cabal with the Federal Reserve, Primary Dealers to the Fed, the CFTC and the Doj/President, oil futures would not reflect more than 60$ a barrell.
    Personaly I don’t like Obama, but he has assured oil price support.
    It seems to me, Exxon just wants more profit. Not a bad thing(profits), but half truths and propoganda is getting tiring.

  17. Steve Smith says:

    If the company decided to forgo profit this year they could drop the price of a gallon about 6 cents. Would that help? Now State and federal taxes on that same gallon are, in my state, about 45 cents. If the state and feds would forgo taxing gas, at every step from production to refining to sales at the pump the price would drop to a small fraction of what it costs today. Now who are the greedy money grubbing heartless unfeeling ones, corporations or government? The elected jet from coast to coast in jets (their own or on our dime) to vacations of the rich and famous, lavish dinners, most are millionares. Wake up. Your foccus is being redirected to keep you from seeing how your pocket is getting picked.

  18. Deborah Cintron says:

    Obama did not indicate the “BIG OIL” was referencing to less tax being paid. He is emphasizing on the relationships with Iran with other countries to monopolize how our dependency on ExxonMobil provides us oil. This is corporation is under primarily Iran with other countries. We don’t want to be so dependent on Iran for oil. The BIG OIL is referencing to a monopolizing gas and oil.

  19. Linda Brown says:

    ExxonMobile stock allowed me to pay my house off and retire at 60.
    The only thing the government has done for me is take my money in taxes and use that money to invest in now-bankrupt solar companies.
    Then again, when it is someone else’s money (the taxpayer) that is being invested, one can afford to be careless.
    Thank you, ExxonMobil. I will continue to buy your stock.

  20. Dennis Baker says:

    The fact is oil companies are making huge profits while the result of burning their fuels is destroying our atmosphere. They don’t need govt subsides, they can just jack up the price of gasoline whenever there is a large gust
    of wind. And have we forgot how they ripped off the consumers in the 70′s by claiming a gas shortage and jacking up the price of oil. Obviously they have the Republicans in their pocket with their continued denial of Global Warming. Wake up people!!

  21. jim skeslien says:

    Hmmmm! Not according to this Article!!!!!

    Businessweek’s Bold Cover:
    Exxon And Shell Earn $54 Billion So Far This YearExxonMobil Makes $41 Billion, But Pays Estimated 17.6% Tax Rate, Lower Than Most Taxpayers (But Not Romney)

    ExxonMobil had the largest profits of the Big Five oil companies in 2011, raking in $41.1 billion for the year. This 35 percent jump from last year is driven in large part by record-high oil prices. Today, the oil giant announced its fourth quarter profits of $9.4 billion, a 2 percent increase since 2010. Here are a few other facts about ExxonMobil:

    • Exxon’s $41.1 billion in 2011 profit translates into nearly $5 million in profit every hour, or more than $1,300 every second. The annual profit comes near the record revenues of $46.23 billion in 2008.

    • Stock buybacks for Q4 were $5.4 billion, and $ 21.60 billion for the year, equivalent to 53 percent of total 2011 profit. This enriches executives, the board of directors, and largest shareholders.

    • Exxon pays a lower tax rate than the average American. Between 2008-2010, Exxon Mobil registered an average 17.6 percent federal effective corporate tax rate, while the average American paid a higher rate of 20.4 percent. [In 2010, Mitt Romney paid an effective tax rate of 13.9%.]

    • The company paid no taxes to the U.S. federal government in 2009, despite 45.2 billion record profits. It paid $15 billion in taxes, but none in federal income tax.

    • The oil giant uses offshore subsidiaries in the Caribbean to avoid paying taxes in the United States.

    • Exxon is sitting on $11 billion cash on hand as of September 30.

    • Exxon spent nearly $13 million on lobbying expenditures in 2011. The company gave… read more »

    …nearly another $900,000 in federal campaign contributions. 92 percent of contributions went to Republicans.

    • Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson made $29 million in 2010 (according to the latest records): He made $2.2 million in salary, a $3.4 million bonus, and stock awards valued at $15.5 million.

    • Exxon is drawing out a legal battle for damages on a spill from 22 years ago. Exxon hasn’t paid $92 million in cleanup for the devastating Valdez Alaskan oil spill. In its Sept. 30 court filing, Exxon argued the damages it agreed to pay only covers “restoration” and not additional “clean-up.”

    • Far from a job creator, ExxonMobil — together with Chevron, Shell, and BP — reduced their U.S. workforce by 11,200 employees between 2005 and 2010.

    • Democratic Customer says:

      Thank you jim for the details about Exxon. It only further articulates the propaganda and arrogance of Mr. Cohen’s article.

      The oil industry’s position at custodians of the US’s energy (which supports our ENTIRE way of life) has been abused. They have lost touch with humanity and the responsibility and care that must accompany their position.

      I must add something concrete to the facts you state. If a company can earn $41 Billion in profit, then that company can afford to pay a higher tax rate. PERIOD. And if that company PROTECTS its profit margin by threatening to raise gas prices further, or fire US employees, that only cements them as evil, selfish and irresponsible.

      WHAT IS WRONG WITH $10 to $20 BILLION in profits? I think an additional $20 Billion towards the federal government, or towards average americans in the form of lower gas prices, will go a LOOOOOONNNNGGGGG way!

      So thank you jim for your FACTS. It certainly shows that the PR stats that Ken Cohen presented in this blog simply are biased defense of greed.

  22. Robert Malone says:

    After all the words, and all the numbers, no suggestions.

    I suggest that all Exxon Board Members give half of their assets and half of their income to their local schools and infrastructure – Today!

    They will never miss it, and their neighbors and our Nation will benefit.

  23. Kelly Dykes says:

    AMAZING! and you do buisiness with us anyway……
    at a cost of almost 3 billion a year! You really do care about AMERICA.
    Forgive me for being cynical in the past.

  24. Democratic Customer says:

    With all due respect, Mr. Cohen, ExxonMobile earned a total PROFIT in 2011 of $41 Billion. BILLION! From 2005 to 2008, ExxonMobile earned annual profits between $41 Billion and $46 Billion. These, from my research, are some of the LARGEST annual profits in history.

    Keep in mind, that these profits were earned during times when most Americans were hit very hard by the rising costs of Gas and energy. Not only was this due to the high prices, but also due to how those prices drove up the cost of living, as EVERYTHING is affected by energy prices (transporting goods, operating businesses, heating residences, etc.)

    Now, we are all educated, so I need not mention that PROFIT means, fundamentally, that you make more than you spend. You take in more than you pay out.

    So please do not pretend that just because the SCALE of your operation pays Billions of tax dollars ($12.3 Billion you say?) excludes you from paying a little bit more for the right to earn record profits each year.

    Let’s understand the reasoning from another perspective. If I can earn $41 Billion in profits, then I do not need tax breaks any more than someone who earns a 6-figure salary needs a welfare check. In fact, if I were someone who earned 6-figures and I manipulated the system to somehow receive welfare money, it would be considered illegal, or criminal.

    This is what the president is referring to when he says “corporate welfare”. It is a simplified term to state that a company that earns billions in profits is receiving a break the way the current tax policy is structured.

    ExxonMobile is earning the billions of dollars of profit on the backs of MILLIONS of families and businesses… read more »

    …who pay at the pump, or with their checkbooks. Let’s all do away with a little bit of selfishness and consider the greater good for once.

    Stop defending profits that are currently impacting the balance within the entire country. Your profits and the importance of energy comes with a responsibility to be fair.

    Do this OR you will find your customers organizing, NOT only to elect a president, but to choose another company’s gas pump to support.

  25. Loyd Van Buskirk says:

    does anyone understand that all the big oil companies have standard oil as the parent company? There is no advantage gained by buying fuel from Chevron versus buying it from Exxon. It is a much bigger and more powerful conglomerate of large corporations working together since the anti-trust breakup into 32 seperate companies owned by the Rockefellers. It seems to me that we have only to be thankful for thefact that the companies have been well managed and control as much of the worlds energy supplies as they do.

  26. craig thomson says:

    Facts are great, but what about facts about the environment? Let me put global warming into terms a layman could understand. When you burn fuel in your car, it produces heat – feel the hood of your car after a drive. Multiply that by hundreds of millions of cars. That heat is added to the heat of the sun in our atmosphere. Still not convinced? Have a couple of hundred people stand in your garage holding candles for a similar effect. Still not convinced? Now start your car, but don’t open the garage door, because the garage represents a closed atmosphere like the Earth’s. That should kill everyone. Get it? Einstein was right – the Second Law of Thermodynamics is irrefutable, and it certainly does not mix well with the Production Possibilities Frontier Curve. Profits are great, but not when you don’t have a planet left to spend them on.

  27. Cliff Bryant says:

    Not sure if he set the record straight or just added more confusion. One is the $37 billion spent to develop supplies. Actually ExxonMobil had stalled energy alternatives. They bought the patent for solar roof shingles that could have provided homes with alternative power. They bought the patent to battery technology that could have increased battery life by a factor of 10. No I don’t believe ExxonMobil needs to be praised.

  28. A. Kimball says:

    Why don’t you worry about how much MONEY you are paying for college? If we want so many people to go to college, why do they cost so much? I think a really good idea would be if all the STUDENTS STOPPED trying to get into these colleges that charge really exhorbitant amounts, there may be some changes made. I had a lot of education, and I doubt that I paid $10,000 for about 20 years of college (BA, MA, + 18 hrs, + all the stupid courses teachers need to constantly take!). I doubt that I would have learned much more at Harvard or Yale. Mostly what it appears is that professors are teaching our youngsters to be liberals without alloowing them to think for themselves. Yes, LET’S spend more on colleges and less on oil. Makes sense.
    In addition, lotteries that pay for education are abetting these high prices for a lot of students who really shouldn’t be in college at all. The students have to be “passed” so that the college can get their funds!

  29. Dave Romin says:

    Okay, suppose all of the oil transported by the Keystone Pipeline is refined in Texas and eventually sold to another country. Does it really matter where it might be consumed, as long as it is added to worldwide supplies, reducing pressure on worldwide prices.

    And, think about the number AMERICAN jobs this will create, well paying jobs I might add, reducing unemployment and greatly aiding our economy. I don’t know if you have noticed, the Canadians are currently recruiting us to come help them extract and produce this oil, around 135,000 jobs over the next ten years. I’m willing to bet this will meet the approval of Mr. Obama and his newly found friend, Warren Buffett, since this product will fill many of his railroad cars. How convenient he just bought the Burlington Northern RR, followed by Mr. Obama’s denial to build the Keystone……purely coincidental, I’m sure. Gee, hauling oil is a dirty business, in more ways than one, but someone’s got to do it.

  30. John Lonberger says:

    I can only wish politics functioned at a higher level than simple demagoguery, but it really doesn’t. Your message is very clear and important but alas will NEVER reach the eyes, and surely never enter the debate. Ever consider employing the Kardashians as “spokes-critters”? Yes, we have really reached that level. Regardless, a big “thank you” to all the employees at XOM for doing what is important and constructive for us.

  31. Brent Walt says:

    Mr. Cohen, you might feel ashamed when you are older and wiser. You could now be teaching others to care more about the health of the United States, of others, than about augmenting already record-breaking profits for one industry. We are all born greedy, but we learn to control ourselves, to keep some impulses in check, and to keep in mind the common good. That makes us civilized. You have the means to make our country, even the world, a better place for all and still turn a fine profit. You don’t have to choose greed over science and justice.You could lead others to be more civilized, more human, and still be a wealthy, powerful man. You would thank yourself later.

  32. Tim Ford says:

    Obama is like a 16 year old kid with a credit card. He has no clue what the price of things are. He only spends. He is not liable for the debt. Only the parents are ( We The People). Until his credit card is taken away. He will continue on a spending spree. He is a USED CAR SALESMAN. He talks a good line of BS. He makes the sale. Then he leaves the american people paying for a lemon.

  33. Carl Justus says:

    There is a big difference between payroll taxes and income taxes!! All companies have to pay payroll taxes just as the worker pays half and the company pays half.
    The companies like to use the amount of payroll taxes trying to convince you how much taxes they pay–yes it is a tax, but when talk about taxes we usually talk about INCOME TAXES OR CORPORATE TAXES WHICH IS PAID ON INCOME!!

  34. Ken West says:

    Bravo, Mr. Cohen. So glad you have set the record straight. Keep up your good work.

  35. NORBERT FLYNN says:

    I echo the thanks for correcting the facts, but suggest one further step… Since xom has been pulled into this game then lets play. Mr Tillerson should be on ever Sunday talk show this week. It is time real business people with true business ethics started educating the American voters rather than leaving it to the misinformed talking heads who think they are journalists.

  36. bill hill says:

    Ken I like XOM’s willingness to voice their opinions…please keep it up. Afterall most Americans own a piece of XOM in their pensions or mutual funds, even the “environmentalists”.