By Hans Bader
“The top corporate tax rate in the United States is 35 percent, one of the highest in the world,” but General Electric, whose CEO was recently tapped to lead President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, pays no taxes at all, reported the New York Times.
The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.
This negative tax rate is the product of lobbying aimed mostly at liberal lawmakers. “G.E. has spent tens of millions of dollars to push for changes in tax law,” such as “‘green energy’ credits for its wind turbines.” “Since 2002, the company has eliminated a fifth of its work force in the United States while increasing overseas employment.”
In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for even more spending on forms of energy that benefit GE. Government energy spending and tax credits disproportionately benefit GE, which recently spent $65.7 million on lobbying to get government subsidies.
As the Washington Post noted earlier, GE, the “world’s largest industrial company,” received massive taxpayer bailouts on special, preferential terms not available to other companies; it became the “biggest beneficiary” of a bailout program intended “for banks,” even though it “did not initially qualify for the program,” after the government “loosened the eligibility requirements” in response to “behind-the-scenes appeals from GE.”
The “clean energy” spending Obama wants includes “initiatives aimed at building the renewable-energy sector — which received billions of dollars in stimulus funding.”
Obama’s call for more such spending is a bad omen, because such programs in the stimulus package wiped out thousands of American jobs. The stimulus package used “green-jobs” subsidies to send American jobs overseas. Seventy-nine percent of those subsidies went to foreign firms, such as an Australian firm that imported Japanese wind turbines, effectively outsourcing American jobs. Moreover, some “green jobs” funding pushed by corporate lobbyists actually harms the environment, like ethanol subsidies and mandates.