Most of us are aware that the government gives mountains of cash to powerful corporations in the form of tax breaks, grants, loans and subsidies--what some have called "corporate welfare." However, little has been revealed about exactly how much money Washington is forking over to mega businesses.
A new venture called Open the Books, based in Illinois, was founded with a mission to bring transparency to how the federal budget is spent. And what they found is shocking: between 2000 and 2012, the top Fortune 100 companies received $1.2 trillion from the government. That doesn't include all the billions of dollars doled out to housing, auto and banking enterprises in 2008-2009, nor does it include ethanol subsidies to agribusiness or tax breaks for wind turbine makers.
What Open the Book's forthcoming report does reveal is that the most valuable contracts between the government and private firms were for military procrument deals, including Lockheed Martin ($392 billion), General Dynamics ($170 billion), and United Technologies ($73 billion).
After military contractors, $21.8 billion was granted out to corporate recipients in the form of direct subsidies; literally transfers of cash from the pockets of Americans to major corporations. The biggest winners were General Electric (GE) ($380 million), followed by General Motors (GM) ($370 million), Boeing (BA) ($264 million), ADM ($174 million) and United Technologies ($160 million).
$8.5 billion in federally subsidized loans were also doled out to giant oil companies Chevron and Exxon Mobile, and $1 billion went directly to massive agri-business Archer Daniels Midland.
Of course, the banks also got their piece of the pie: $10 billion in federal insurance went to Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, not including any of the 2008 bailout money. Walmart enjoyed its share of federal insurance backing as well.
Thanks to Open the Books, the curtain has been lifted and the whole country can now witness the great suckling of corporate America. As Open the Books founder Adam Andrzejewski put it: "Mitt Romney had it wrong: When it comes to the Fortune 100, it's 99%, not 47%, on some form of the government's gravy train."