This report is based on recently completed work on the Subsidy Tracker database, connecting data for parent and subsidiary companies. This revealed that 965 parent firms received that $110 billion, some 3/4 of the total amounts disclosed in the database. It also turns out that some firms you might not associate with a lot of subsidies actually receive them through subsidiaries with completely different names.
One example of this is Berkshire Hathaway, which in 310 separate subsidy deals has received over $1.06 billion. The subsidiaries receiving incentive packages, include the following: "Geico, NetJets, Nebraska Furniture Mart, General Re Corporation, Lubrizol Advanced Materials, and Webb Wheel Products."
16 other firms, led of course by Boeing, have also received more than $1 billion in total. Boeing's $13 billion total is followed by Alcoa at $5.6 billion, Intel with $3.9 billion, General Motors receiving $3.5 billion, and Ford totaling $2.5 billion(all figures in nominal dollars). An amazing 182 companies have received cumulative subsidies of over $100 million.
The 965 parent companies have, on average, 26 deals and a cumulative subsidy average of $102 million.
David Cay Johnston points out that Alcoa's subsidies account for 189 years' worth of profits based on the company's results for the last four years.This reinforces something I argued in Investment Incentives and the Global Competition for Capital, that while subsidies may only represent a small portion of a company's costs, they can make up a large portion of its profits (my example was Advanced Micro Devices, now Global Foundries).
Johnston concludes appropriately:
Taxpayers who want to understand the full dimension of their burdens should demand that Congress require and pay for detailed annual statistical reports showing every federal, state and local subsidy received by corporations, including the value of indirect subsidies like those perpetual rights of way to pipelines and other legal monopolies.Transparency remains the name of the game. As citizens become more aware of the huge costs that subsidies impose on us, the bigger a political issue it will become. This new report is another feather in the cap for Good Jobs First's promotion of transparency.