Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump decried the federal government as “rigged” for the benefit of insiders and special interests. For many Americans, the message resonated.
Our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report: Federal Funding of Fortune 100 Companies quantifies all federal monies received between fiscal years 2014 and 2017. This is a study of the federal contracts and grants doled out to our most connected and successful corporations.
In total, the Fortune 100 received $399 billion in federal funding over this four-year period. A vast majority of the funds came through contracts. However, a substantial $3.2 billion flowed on federal grants – public giveaways and subsidies – to these top corporations.
These powerful companies helped themselves by spending large on lobbying expenditures. We found that Fortune 100 companies spent $2 billion flexing their political muscles and promoting their self-interests. For example, AT&T spent $63.7 million to lobby on 434 bills including legislation affecting telecom regulations, data sharing guidelines, drone regulations, and more.
During this period, the top 10 companies in the Fortune 100, ranked by total payout, received $338 billion from federal agencies. Case study examples in our report include Lockheed Martin, Boeing Corp, General Electric, and more.
This report continues our oversight of the federal funding of private corporations. Previously, we quantified $1.2 trillion in federal funding flowed to the Fortune 100 between 2000 and 2012. With these updated figures, we estimate $1.8 trillion over the last eighteen years in taxpayer money funded contracts, grants, loans, direct payments and farm subsidies to these elite corporations.
This report raises additional questions about corporate welfare:
Is government spending contributing to corporate fortune?
Should the government use the latest technology to “reverse auction” government contracts to pre-qualified bidders?
Do Fortune 100 companies need massive contracts with the government to survive?