I spent this week moving boxes and getting set up in our new campaign headquarters in Chicago, but something happened in Washington that I want to make sure you know about.
The CEOs from the five major oil companies -- which together booked $36 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2011 alone -- went to the Senate on Thursday to try to justify the $4 billion in tax giveaways they're receiving this year.
It's a head-smackingly obvious example of how broken Washington is that there's even a question about this. These companies don't need and don't deserve taxpayer money -- especially with a budget deficit to close and gas prices at or near record highs.
Even worse is the fact that when the Senate tries to strip these oil company giveaways, it's likely that a minority of senators will block a vote from happening. And even if the Senate manages to pass a bill eliminating the giveaways, there's little chance it will be brought up for a vote in the House.
Here's why: These five companies are expert manipulators of the money-for-influence game in Washington that the President is working to change. It's simple math -- they spent more than $145 million last year on nearly 800 lobbyists whose job is to defeat bills like this one. The $4 billion they'll likely get to keep as a result represents a 2,700% return on their investment.
I'd like to be able to say with certainty that you can do something to help pass this bill, but the fact is that at this stage we may not be able to affect the outcome of next week's vote.
What we can do is build a campaign that will keep a spotlight on issues like this and the fundamental reasons why Washington doesn't work.
Our campaign doesn't take money from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs. This organization will be a living example of doing politics a different way -- from the bottom up; of, by, and for ordinary people.
That example and the results we achieve on Election Day are the biggest blows we can strike against a dysfunctional system and the distorted outcomes it creates.
But we have to start building right now. Add your name to our call for a new kind of politics today:
While the oil industry has been earning billions in profits, gas prices have surpassed $4 a gallon in some parts of the country.
As the President has said, "Instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy sources, we need to invest in tomorrow's."
But on Thursday, one of the CEOs went so far as to say that cutting oil giveaways would be "un-American."
Right now, we're building a grassroots campaign that's led and funded by people like you. We're opening up offices not just in Chicago but all over the place, and putting organizers on the ground in communities across the country.
So if you're frustrated by the way business gets done in Washington, I'm asking you now to channel that feeling into building a massive grassroots organization to change it. Add your name to join our campaign to change Washington: