Oil companies top Fortune 500 list

Exxon Mobil Corp. topped this year’s Fortune 500 list of the country’s largest corporations, with two other oil companies rounding out the top five.

The oil giant reclaimed the top spot on the list from Wal-Mart, which was ranked No. 1 by Fortune magazine last year.

ExxonMobil made $41.1 billion in profits in 2011, up nearly 35 percent from 2010, according to Fortune. Revenues increased 28 percent to $452.9 percent in 2011.

Two other major oil companies, Chevron and ConocoPhillips, were ranked third and fourth, respectively.

The list gives President Obama and liberal Democrats more political ammunition in their long-time fight to kill tax breaks for the largest oil companies.

Democrats have long argued that oil companies don’t need tax breaks, citing their massive profits. The Fortune 500 list, published Monday, is a fresh reminder of profits.

But efforts by Democrats to eliminate billions in oil industry tax breaks have failed to gain traction in Congress.

The Senate rejected in March a Democrat-backed bill to cut $24 billion in tax breaks for the largest oil companies over the next decade. The legislation, authored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), would have only applied to the “big five” oil companies — Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell and ConocoPhillips.

All but two Republicans voted against the measure. Four centrist Democrats also opposed the bill.

The latest oil tax breaks vote came amid growing concern among Democrats, including President Obama, that high gasoline prices could cast a pall on their reelection campaigns.

Republicans hammered Obama and Democrats in Congress over gasoline prices, arguing that they are standing in the way of expanded domestic oil-and-gas development.

GOP lawmakers largely opposed the bill to repeal the tax breaks, asserting it will do little to lower gasoline prices.

Republicans highlighted a March 2011 Congressional Research Service report that says a wide-ranging repeal of oil industry tax breaks could raise oil prices “on what would likely be a small scale.”

But a separate May 2011 Congressional Research Service report that analyzed legislation similar to the Menendez bill found that the repeal of five key oil-industry tax breaks would have little to no impact on gasoline prices.



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