THE CORPORATE RICH
The Oklahoma humorist-sage, Will Rogers, called Congress the best money can buy
about 60 years ago. The "Buy" is much, much better today for corporate
welfare. In this season of gift exchanges, here is a specific, very limited list
of what some corporations got for their money; compliments of your taxpayer dollars:
- $110 million for the Market Promotion Program (MPP) in FY96, $25 million fore
than FY95. The MPP funds overseas advertising by U.S. companies. Sunkist Growers
received almost $3 million in MPP subsidies in FY94. Sunkist's political action committee
(PAC) made contributions totalling $123,820 during the 1993 - 1994 election cycle.
- $1 billion authorized for the Export Enhancement Program (EEP) in FY96. The EEP
provides bonuses for companies that arrange exports of U.S. agricultural products.
Cargill, Inc. and Continental Grain Company have received almost 34 percent of the
more than $7 billion in bonuses distributed since the EEP's inception in 1985. The
two companies paid $105,497 in PAC contributions during the 1993 - 1994 election
- $40 million for the Advanced Light-Hater Reactor (ALWR) in FY96. General Electric
and Westinghouse received major funding from the ALWR program. The tow companies
paid $804,470 in PAC contributions during the 1993 - 1994 election cycle.
- $742 million for the Export-Import Bank in FY96. The Foreign Operations confidence
report includes funding for the Ex-Im Bank, which provides low- interest loans and
loan guarantees for foreign purchasers of U.S. products. Indonesia obtained over
$125 million in Ex-Im loans in FY94 for purchases of Hughes Aircraft. Hughes' PAC
shelled out $248,800 during the 1993 - 1994 Election Cycle.
- $68 million for subsidies to support credit programs of the Overseas Private
Investment Corporation (OPIC) in FY96. The Foreign Operations conference report includes
funding of OPIC, which provides taxpayer-subsidized financing so U.S. companies can
invest and produce in newly independent and in developing countries. W.S. West, Inc.
received $170 million in OPIC financing in FY94 for projects in Hungary and Russia.
The U.S. West PAC contributed $319,610 to federal candidates during the 1993 - 1994
- Regulatory deforms that ease environmental rules for salvage logging on federal
lands: U.S. taxpayers incurred net loses in excess of $19 million in 1994 from salvage
logging in just 63 national forests. Louisiana Pacific and Weyerhaeuser contributed
$58,982 in PAC money during the 1993 - 1994 election cycle, while the American Forest
and Paper Association and the National Forest Products Association PACs contributed
a total of $80,528.
- $5.5 billion in savings in 1996 on bank insurance premiums. An 83 percent cut
in Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation deposit insurance premiums paid by financial
institutions to the federal government shaved about $4.4 billion from the industry's
annual expenses beginning in 1995; a second drop will save nearly $1 billion more
in 1996. The biggest winner will be Citibank of New York, with $142 billion in deposits.
Citicorp shelled out $333,168 in PAC contributions to federal candidates during the
1993 1994 election cycle, supplemented by almost $2 million from three banking trade
- $3.2 billion for the FY96 Foreign Military Financing Program. The federal government
negotiates foreign arms exports for companies, then provides subsidies to countries
to purchase the military products. In FY94, General Dynamics Corp., and Lockheed
Martin benefited from a total of $1.9 billion in Foreign Military Sales awards. The
two companies' PACs paid more than $1.5 million to federal candidates during the
1993 - 1994 election cycle.
- $1.4 billion in higher prices annually for U.S. sugar suppliers. The House and
Senate extended for seven years the U.S. Sugar Program, which controls supply by
imposing import quotas and restricting U.S. production, causing U.S. sugar prices
to be twice the world price. Flo-Sun, Inc. a major sugar grower, spent $35,038 in
federal PAC contributions during the 1993 - 1994 election cycle, supplementing $485,410
from the American Sugar Cane League and the American Sugar Beet Growers Association.
- $2.2 billion in annual tax benefits by cutting the alternative minimum tax in
half. the alternative minimum tax, established to ensure that profitable corporations
pay at least a minimum amount of taxes, was reduced by 50 percent in the Balanced
Budget Act just passed by the House and Senate. Key beneficiaries of the reduction
in the alternative minimum tax are oil companies. Exxon Corporation, Amoco and Atlantic
Richfield PACs alone spent almost $1.5 million during the 1993 - 1994 election cycle.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority leader, Bob Dole, have been charging
after the poverty welfare budget but leaving handouts for far bigger corporate welfare
intact. I've just sent a letter requesting their opinion about cutting these boondoggles
for the corporate rich. Perhaps you may also wish to send your Senators and Representatives
this list and ask for their reaction too.
by Ralph Nader
Copyright © 1996. The Light Party.