"During vigorous expansion or deep recession, oil and natural gas investments outperformed other public pension holdings by more than two times," said Kyle Isakower, API vice president of regulatory and economic policy. in a statement. "The oil and natural gas industry supports millions of jobs and a significant portion of our economy, and the retirement benefits of America's teachers, firefighters, and thousands of others with a pension of 401k."
The pension argument is just one case big oil is making to justify their opposition to the bill introduced earlier this week by Senate Democrats to repeal $2 billion in annual tax breaks. The Democrats do not appear to have the votes to get the bill passed currently.
Another key argument: Big oil pays a very big tax bill already. Early this morning, Chevron CEO John Watson told the committee just that, saying the worldwide effective tax for the industry was $158 billion per year. About $86 million of that went to the U.S., Watson said.
That tax number, however, didn't appear to impress members of the finance committee. Committee members have pointed to studies showing companies such as Exxon Mobil pay an average effective corporate tax rate of about 17.6%, rather than the 35% rate many other large corporations currently pay.
Mr. Watson also argued that costs to extract oil are rising, making the tax breaks more necessary. Senators on the finance committee largely rejected that argument, pointing to the recent run-up in oil prices as evidence that top line growth was sufficient to cover any increased costs. Crude oil prices are up nearly 30% in the past year.
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CNBC.com with wires.