President Obama has gone to conspicuous lengths to try and dispel the notion that he’s a raging anti-capitalist. Most recently, he brought Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric (GE), on board to add business savvy to his administration. But as Timothy Carney points out in the Examiner, Immelt is one of the most notorious rent-seekers in the country: “Subsidies are GE’s lifeblood, and Immelt’s own words make that clear. In his op-ed announcing his appointment, Immelt called for a ‘coordinated commitment among business, labor and government,’ and wrote that, ‘government should incentivize … investment in innovation.’ He also advocated ‘partnership between business and government on education and innovation in areas where America can lead, such as clean energy, are essential to sustainable growth.’”
Carney points out that GE spent $66 million lobbying the “we don’t believe in lobbying” Obama administration. Here are a few examples of what they got for their money:
• $86.5 million long-term loan to GE transportation for the sale of diesel-electric locomotives to MRS Logistica in Brazil, March 24, 2009.
• $104.8 million loan guarantee to GE Energy, Houston, for the sale of power generating equipment to Turkey, April 15, 2009.
• $912.8 million loan for the sale of 23 gas turbine generator sets to Saudi Arabia, May 15, 2009.
• $230 million direct loan for the sale of gas and steam turbines in Bahrain, August 28, 2009.
• $20 million loan guarantee for the sale of turbine to Slovakia, February 26, 2010.
• $400 million for a gas and steam turbine to India, November 8, 2010.
Regardless of what the president says in the State of the Union address, his actions suggest that his administration is focused on crony capitalism, and not the real thing.
Image by Mykl Roventine.