Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
On Sunday, Los Angeles Times added the name Michele Bachmann (R-MN) to a very long list of wealthy hypocrites who scream "socialism" all the way to the bank.
Bachmann, like most members of the Plutocrat (aka Republican) Party, rails against what she describes as "entitlements" (Social Security, Medicare and just about any other program designed to promote the general welfare of the American people – in her case even going so far as to label the 9/11 Responders bill as a "new entitlement program"). Yet, as the Times revealed, Bachmann not only voted against ending such "corporate entitlements" as subsidies for the oil and gas industry, but personally benefited from some $260,000 in federal taxpayer subsidies paid to her family farm and another $30,000 state subsidy to her husband's counseling clinic, part of which included monies from the federal government.
While Bachmann denied directly benefiting from either subsidy --- she went so far as to say "my husband and I have never gotten a penny of money from the farm" --- her financial disclosure form reveals that she received income from the farm during the same period the farm received federal subsidies. Her claim that the clinic's public subsidies went to train its employees rather than her pocketbook provides a typical form of plutocratic denial that fails to acknowledge that the use of public funds to educate private sector employees eliminates the need for private employers to expend their own funds for training.
But the Bachmanns are but bit players in the great American corporate welfare scheme...
Farm subsidies as corporate welfare
When originally proposed in 1933, the idea of paying farmers federal subsidies to destroy or refrain from harvesting crops was intended to stabilize prices and prevent family farmers from going under during the Great Depression.
As revealed by Jim Hightower, the former TX Agricultural Commissioner, in Thieves in High Places, at present the farm subsidy program "delivers zero money to 69% of America's real farmers, awarding some of the biggest payments to such corporate giants as DuPont and Chevron."
Hightower furnished the classic example of the corporate perversion of the FDR program that was intended to save the family farm: government subsidies paid out to Charles Schwab, the NY stockbroker, whose $4.7 billion fortune places him 67th on the list of wealthiest Americans.
Schwab, according to Hightower, is the proud owner of Casa de Patos, 1,500 acres of CA wetlands. Schwab has no intent to harvest the rice he grows on Casa de Patos. He needs it to attract ducks so that he, his friends and selected clients can go on duck hunts. But that doesn't stop the greedy billionaire from accepting a $500,000 annual federal subsidy not to harvest the rice.
Hightower laments:"Sadly, it’s legal, and it’s a fine upstanding example of what George [W. Bush] and his base call 'entrepreneurship.'"
Sadly, it is the same program that, as MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell notes (video below), Bachmann took advantage of, even as she rails against "entitlements."
The 'jobs' scam
As Greg LeRoy underscored in The Great American Jobs Scam, the $30,000 subsidy received by the Bachmann's clinic is but the tip of the iceberg of a $50 billion/year corporate swindle in which large corporations entice local, state and regional governments into competing with one another for the "privilege" of private sector jobs. New "jobs" are not "created." They are simply moved from one region of the country to another --- at least until the jobs are shipped to an Asian sweatshop where employees slave away for $2/day.
Routinely, according to LeRoy, corporations receive $100,000 in taxpayer-funded subsidies for each private sector job that is then located within a state or region. But, LeRoy points to one example in which former FL Gov. Jeb Bush (R) combined $369 million in federal monies intended to address his state’s budget shortfall with a $667 million Palm Beach County subsidy to "create" 575 Scripps Research Institute jobs. That works out to $1.9 million in public monies for each "private" job "created" at Scripps.
Greatest corporate welfare: Military-industrial complex/U.S. foreign policy
While a treatise could be written on the subject, for the purpose of this article, suffice to state that even LeRoy's annual estimate of $50 billion in corporate jobs scam subsidies, coupled with farm, oil and gas subsidies, pales in comparison to the trillions in corporate welfare squandered on the military-industrial complex, perpetual war and the maintenance of the global system of U.S. military bases designed to support and continue the hegemony of the corporate global Empire.
As Hightower astutely observed in Thieves in High Places:
Something to keep in mind as Michele Bachmann and the other representatives of the billionaire class rail against every program that is designed to protect the health, safety, and economic well being of the vast majority of Americans who make up the working class.
Lawrence O’Donnell addresses Michele Bachmann’s hypocrisy in this segment of MSNBC's The Last Word…
Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968).