Want to Talk About Moochers Vs. Makers? 10 Welfare-Case Companies Revisited

By Minyanville Staff  SEP 20, 2012 5:00 PM

Lost in the current debate about who is accepting hand-outs and expecting tax-breaks is one monster of a costly habit both Democratic and Republican politicians have supported.


MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Mitt Romney's attempt to out Obama as a believer in redistribution has fallen flat. As Ezra Klein reported in yesterday's Wonkbook entry:

Mitt Romney, like pretty much every other American politician, believes in redistribution. Specifically, the "issues" section of his website says he believes in a progressive tax code, the Medicare program, the Medicaid program, the food stamp program, the Social Security program, and pretty much every other feature of the federal government that’s involved in redistributing income."

As a fringe benefit  to the uproar caused by both the 47% viral video and Romney's counterattack attempt to label Obama as anti-capitalist, however, the public has learned more about exactly what redistribution means and how the US tax policy works.

Several journalists and experts have rushed in to explain the many reasons why a large portion of the population is not obligated to pay taxes. About half the members of the group Romney referred to in his speech do not pay  taxes because they do not meet the taxable income threshold; simply put, they don't earn enough to be taxed. Others are either the elderly or families receiving refundable tax credits as an income supplement or to help support young children. It's hard to call these people "takers."

On the other hand, the 53% who do pay taxes, we're now learning, also benefit from the greatest number of tax breaks

Meanwhile, less discussed in these feverish debates is another form of welfare that free market believers call the dirtiest and that Democratic voters often find misguided: Corporate welfare. The CATO Institute, a Libertarian think tank, says it costs the US $100 billion per year.  

In his convention speech earlier this month, President Obama made an ambitious proclamation, saying:  “I will not let oil companies write this country’s energy plan, or endanger our coastlines, or collect another $4 billion in corporate welfare from our taxpayers.” His supporters cheered, but critics from the other camp gleefully reminded America that Obama's promise came on the one-year anniversary of the day Solyndra declared bankruptcy. Solyndra, as if anyone could forget, is the solar energy company that had received $535 million in taxpayer money before collapsing.

In practice, both Democratic and Republican politicians have made the most of corporate welfare initiatives. Looking at  Virginia alone, A. Barton-Hinkle, a writer for Richmond Times-Dispatch and columnist for Reason magazine, recently found his conservative Republican governor guilty of multiple hand-outs:

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, for instance, has doled out cash and assistance to a host of businesses big and small: Backcountry.com, an online retailer, received $300,000 last year. General Electric got the same amount to recruit and train workers for an IT center in Henrico. Virginia spent millions to bring a Microsoft data center to Mecklenberg, and doled out millions more to help billionaire filmmaker Steven Spielberg film a Lincoln biopic.

Two years ago, Minyanville produced the following series on corporate welfare. In light of recent events and the supposed outrage over the country's "moochers," we thought it was a topic worth revisiting. Click on a headline below to start reading.

Soft Drinks
  • Photo by SMC
Coke, Pepsi, and the Soda Industry
One argument says that allowing people to buy sugary soda with food stamps creates an industry subsidy.
By Matthew Mallon
Ocean Drill
  • Photo by Match Zimmerman
BP and Big Oil
Oil production is one of America's most heavily subsidized industries, and even this spring's disastrous spill may not change that.
By Diane Bullock
  • © Tesla Motors Inc.
Tesla and Electric Car Makers
Before holding its high-profile IPO, the electric car maker received a jolt of government funding.
By Diane Bullock
  • Photo by Fletcher6
Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Big Banks
Have the big banks become addicted to the taxpayer-backed funding known as TLGP?
By Minyanville Staff
Home Products International
  • © Home Products International
HPI, America's Last Ironing Board Maker
Without tariffs on its Chinese competition, America's last ironing board manufacturer wouldn't survive.
By Diane Bullock
Coal Mining
  • © PRNewsFoto
Peabody, Rio Tinto, and Big Coal
Providing tax breaks for "clean coal" -- an oxymoronic concept -- is just another way to subsidize a dirty industry.
By Matthew Mallon
Nuclear Power
  • © PRNewsFoto/IBM
Southern Power Company and Nuclear Energy
Think nuclear power is risky? That point is indisputable -- if you're talking about the economics.
By Justin Rohrlich
  • © The Boeing Company
Boeing and Airplane Manufacturers
The airplane maker dares to complain about the competition's use of government handouts.
By Lisa LaMotta
  • © Archer Daniels Midland
ADM and Big Agriculture
More than 40% of the company's annual profits come from products that are either heavily subsidized or protected through trade tariffs.
By Justin Rohrlich
IBM Corporation
The company makes $100 billion in annual revenues, but it's not above accepting millions in taxpayer-funded incentives when cities bid to win Big Blue business.
By Diane Bullock


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