In the U.S., it is rather commonplace to see welfare recipients demonized, people on food stamps ostracized, and anyone on any form of public assistance made to feel guilty that they need help. They are called lazy and incompetent, with little regard for circumstance or economic hardship. Sure, there are some people who take advantage of the system. But there are millions that desperately need help, and social welfare programs are the only thing standing between them and poverty.
That demonization seems to shift, however, when it comes to giving assistance to big business. According to The Cato Institute, corporate welfare handouts shot all the way up to $92 billion as of 2002. Most of those subsidies were secured by companies in industries like energy — which are some of the most profitable entities in the history of the world. As one writer at Forbes points out, cutting these huge subsidies would be a great way to help balance the national budget, but it is never put into action, and much less even considered.
More recently, subsidy tracking group Good Jobs First released a 2014 report detailing where exactly taxpayer dollars are being funneled, and which states are the most likely to divvy up handouts. There are some surprises in the report, but many details won’t come as much of a shock at all. New York and Washington were the top two states for handing out corporate subsidies, with New York alone topping more than $20 billion across nearly 69,000 individual handouts. The data also shows that roughly 75% of disclosed subsidy dollars have gone to 965 big companies. The total known value of subsidies across the country came out at an estimated $110 billion, although it’s likely more.
From its data, Good Jobs First was able to identify the top 100 recipients of corporate subsidies, dominated by transportation and natural resource companies. Here are the top eight companies from that list, and the total known amount in subsidies they are receiving.