CHW

The takers: State and local governments subsidize corporations

 

In his campaign for President, Mitt Romney famously charged that 47% of the American population paid no federal income tax and “are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”  A new investigation by the New York Times identifies another category of taker: the corporations who take more than $80 billion in subsidies each year from state and local governments. According to the Times, these governments award $9.1 million in corporate subsidies every hour. More than 5,000 companies have been awarded a total of more than $1 million each in local subsidies.   Using the database of state and local government subsidies to corporations created by the New York Times, the table below shows 25 selected companies frequently mentioned in Corporations and Health Watch that received more than $1 million in subsidies.  The largest recipient of local government subsidies was the automobile industry.  The top three US car companies alone received $4.75 billion in local subsidies in the period reviewed by the New York Times.  Most troubling, the Times investigation noted:

 

A portrait arises of mayors and governors who are desperate to create jobs, outmatched by multinational corporations and short on tools to fact-check what companies tell them. Many of the officials said they feared that companies would move jobs overseas if they did not get subsidies in the United States.   Over the years, corporations have increasingly exploited that fear, creating a high-stakes bazaar where they pit local officials against one another to get the most lucrative packages. States compete with other states, cities compete with surrounding suburbs, and even small towns have entered the race with the goal of defeating their neighbors.

 

The Times further observed that for many communities, “the payouts add up to a substantial chunk of their overall spending… Oklahoma and West Virginia give up amounts equal to about one-third of their budgets, and Maine allocates nearly a fifth.”  As national, state and local officials debate about how best to balance revenues and expenses, corporate subsidies deserve further scrutiny.  CHW readers can visit the Times searchable database to examine their states’ record or the subsidies received by corporations they are tracking. 

 


Name of Company

Total Subsidy

Number of Grants

Number of States

 

General Motors

$1.77 billion

208

16

 

Ford

$1.58 billion

119

8

 

Chrysler

$1.4 billion

14

3

 

Orca Bay Seafood

$296 million

4

1

 

Fresh Direct

$131 million

9

1

 

Archer Daniels Midland

$110 million

23

6

 

Daimler

$101 million

24

8

 

Toyota Motor Company

$96.5 million

16

5

 

Pfizer

$92.9 million

44

9

 

Walmart Stores

$80.5 million

176

23

 

Merck and Company

$60.7 million

18

5

 

Coca Cola Bottling

$49 million

61

16

 

Diageo

$40 million

7

2

 

Abbott Laboratories

$14.7 million

21

9

 

Pepsi Cola(various franchises)

$13.3 million

23

9

 

Jim Beam Brands

$10.8 million

7

1

 

Philip Morris USA

$8.06 million

5

2

 

Remington Arms Company

$8.32 million

13

3

 

Millercoors

$7.46

7

4

 

Smith & Wesson

$6.16 million

9

1

 

Lorillard Tobacco Company

$5.5 million

2

1

 

Anheuser-Busch

$4.62 million

2

2

 

Cargill

$4.4 million

9

5

 

Reynolds Tobacco Company

$3.09 million

1

1

 

Pernod Ricard

$1 million

1

1