Companies: Pay Up, or We'll Open Somewhere Else
Taxpayers foot the bill to lure big business
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2012 4:15 PM CST
Updated Dec 1, 2012 4:45 PM CST
State and local officials offer sizable incentives for corporations to open up shop in their areas.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Want a big business like GM or Shell Oil to open up shop in your area? So do state and local officials, who try to lure corporations with incentives like free buildings, tax breaks, and outright cash payments—to the tune of $80 billion a year—but it's hard to prove that the money actually creates jobs, the New York Times reports. And if the business decides to liquidate, it doesn't refill government coffers. "It just gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach," says an official in Kansas. "It sounds like I’m talking myself out of a job, but there ought to be a law against what I’m doing."

Big businesses do, of course, boost local economies and raise tax revenues, sometimes for generations. But they also play hardball with local officials, at times threatening to move jobs overseas—although it's often not true—and even milking cash-strapped states for big bucks. Michigan attorney Doug Winters has sued GM twice for closing factories despite government support, but neither lawsuit has gone anywhere. "They’ve done a lot of damage to a lot of people and a lot of communities, and they’ve basically been given a clean slate," he says. "It’s a 'get out of jail free' card." For more, see the Times' state-by-state database of incentive spending.

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Showing 3 of 52 comments
cornelison
Dec 3, 2012 5:54 PM CST
Where is this money coming from? Taxpayers? If so, those states will have to cut something - like the fire department? Teachers? Public schools? Law enforcement? Let's teach those damned liberals a lesson, right? Conservative voters don't mind losing their homes & jobs. They just recycle their "bootstraps," correct? While we're at it, let's make sure that the workers in those companies are earning less than their counterparts elsewhere. Let's make sure that those bribes from politicians go directly to bonuses for management.
ppacimr9ball
Dec 3, 2012 8:46 AM CST
Ha Ha Ha - you all wanted obama back, well hear he is, see how everything changed after the election, see how the republinazis started voting for obamas bills, I'm sure the so called answer will be to raise the debt ceiling, you bunch of dopes, I've already lost everything I own and I hope everyone else does too, Yes i'm very bitter, 15 months and no job still will do that to you, looks like the final count will be 5 years and 3 months without a job, I'm starting to eye up the big refrigerator boxs in the neighborhood for my next home, and thats not a joke
cantsufferfools
Dec 2, 2012 1:58 PM CST
Ah, free market capitalism at its finest.