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What if you were in Vegas, and a friend told you there was a slot machine in the corner that was giving out $59 for every $1 that was put in? You’d think the machine was broken, and that it was rigged.
What if an investment advisor told you that he could get you $59 back for every $1 you gave him? That’s a 5800% rate of return. Even Bernie Madoff only promised 10.5%. Obviously a scam, right?
Clearly this is a scam, but if you’re the oil, gas and coal industry, it’s legal and business as usual in Washington. For every $1 the industry spends on campaign contributions and lobbying in DC, it gets back $59 in subsidies.
Here’s how it works:
Amount the fossil fuel industry spent during the 111th Congress (2009 & 2010) on contributions to Congress’ campaigns: $25,794,747
Oil and Gas lobbying total 2009: $175,454,820
Oil and Gas lobbying total 2010 : $146,032,543
TOTAL amount spent by Big Fossil in 111th Congress: $347,282,110
2009 amount given to fossils in federal subsidies: $8,910,440,000
2010 amount given to fossils in federal subsidies: $11,578,900,000
TOTAL amount given to fossils during 111th Congress: $20,489,340,000
Divide total subsidies by total money spent by the industry and you get 59.
$1 in. $59 out. That’s a 5800% return on political investment. Not bad.
(Note that an earlier post touched on this topic of return on political investment but did not include the lobbying figures and included conservative estimates of subsidies).