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Corporate Extortion: States Are Giving Billions to Corporations That Don’t Create Jobs

Bidding war for Boeing showcases upside-down priorities.

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The nation’s political elite doesn’t want to hear that coddling corporations is a ripoff—and the public’s money could and should be more wisely spent elsewhere. In Congress, supporting for legitimate public needs has become an unforgiveable sin in the eyes of rightwing Republicans in both chambers. Meanwhile, pro-corporate Democrats also support unneeded corporate largesse, as seen by the pathetic offers to companies like Boeing coordinated by governors such as Washington’s Jay Inslee, a Democrat.      

The corporate subsidies study commisioned by New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo was apparently not what the governor wanted to hear, Johnston reported. It was not merely shelved, but Cuomo’s response to the corporate subsidy report was to appoint a new tax reform commission, “and made no mention of eliminating the tax credits so thoroughly dissected by Rubin and Boyd,” he wrote. “The implication being that not having gotten what he wanted, Cuomo is trying again for a report made as instructed—although only time will tell.”

Meanwhile, across the country, there is little evidence that government is slowing the movement of taxpayer resources toward the top. The newest federal budget deal doesn’t raise taxes on the wealthiest people or institutions. Instead, it cuts services for the middle-class, poor and eats away at federal workforce pay and benefits, according to an early analysis by the Washington-based Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

At the state level, GOP governors—some of whom have blocked Obamacare and denied access to proactive care for their poor by refusing federal funds to expand Medicaid, such Alabama and North Carolina—were “putting together bids [for Boeing]… bragging about their respective environments of can-do optimism,” The New York Times reported.         

This schism—Congress curtailing spending while states bend over backwards to offer the latest corporate giant everything it wants—shows the power and reach of government. If only that “can-do” attitude was put to work to cultivate economic security for millions of struggling American households, instead of for a wealthy corporation that’s evaded taxes and reported billions in profits for years.   

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America's retirement crisis, the low-wage economy, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of "Count My Vote: A Citizen's Guide to Voting" (AlterNet Books, 2008).