Let’s talk about America’s real welfare queens.
Republicans on Capitol Hill love to argue that welfare programs are costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year, and that welfare recipients are able to live lavish lifestyles thanks to the government.
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But in reality, all of the welfare that the U.S. government provides to real, live human beings is just a drop in the ocean, compared to the billions and billions that the government hands out to corporations and big-business.
Each year, the average American family forks over $6,000 to corporations in the form of taxpayer subsidies.
Of that $6,000, $870 goes to direct subsidies for corporations, including the Big Oil corporations that are polluting our planet and fueling climate change.
Oil Change International estimates that the U.S. government hands over as much as $52 billion in corporate welfare each year to Big Oil.
That’s $52 billion that’s allowing oil, gas, and coal companies to continue polluting our skies, and to destroy our environment.
And under current law, this massive lifeline to Big Oil is expected to cost taxpayers more than $100 billion over the next decade.
Fortunately, Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Keith Ellison are trying to dry up Big Oil’s bottomless well.
The two lawmakers have introduced a bill, The End Polluter Welfare Act of 2013, that would end the tax loopholes and corporate subsidies that are supporting Big Oil and that are costing American taxpayers billions each year.
As Senator Sanders put it, “At a time when fossil fuel companies are racking up record profits, it is time to end the absurdity of American taxpayers providing massive subsidies to these hugely profitable fossil fuel corporations.”
While the billions we hand out to Big Oil corporations each year are an outrage, corporate welfare doesn’t stop there.
There are many indirect but just as costly forms of corporate welfare too.
Take Wal-Mart for example.
America’s largest retailer makes nearly $35,000 in profit every minute, and as of 2012, the corporation’s annual sales were around $405 billion.
But those huge profits don’t trickle down to Wal-Mart employees, who on average make just $9 per hour.
Those extremely low wages, combined with very poor benefits, force many Wal-Mart employees to reach out to the government for assistance with healthcare, food and housing costs.
A report released earlier this year by congressional Democrats found that Wal-Mart’s low wages and poor benefits cost American taxpayers between $900,000 and $1.75 million per store.
While that doesn’t fall into the category of an official corporate subsidy or tax break, it’s still millions in corporate welfare that American taxpayers are being forced to hand over.
And then there’s the case of Boeing.
Earlier this month, in an attempt to keep Boeing in Washington State and to secure thousands of jobs, the Washington state legislature approved a record state corporate tax break of almost $9 billion for the airplane manufacturer.
That’s $9 billion that doesn’t go to fund that state’s infrastructure, education programs, or essential social services.
Each year, corporate tax breaks like the one handed out to Boeing take billions of dollars away American taxpayers, and from the government programs, resources, and systems that they rely on.
From billion-dollar tax breaks for Boeing to massive subsidies for Big Oil, it’s pretty clear who the real welfare queens are in America.
Republicans on Capitol Hill argue that we can’t afford to keep funding the welfare programs that provide a lifeline to the poorest and most vulnerable Americans.
But what we really can’t afford is doling out billions each year to corporations that don’t need another penny.
If we’re serious about ending welfare, let’s begin with corporate welfare, and use those billions of dollars for things that really matter, like education, healthcare, transportation, and helping out the most vulnerable Americans.
Call your members of Congress, and tell them to support The End Polluter Welfare Act of 2013, and to cut off the taxpayer-funded lifeline to corporate America once and for all.