Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is taking her new crusade against “crony capitalism” to General Electric, whose chief executive attended President Obama’s jobs address before Congress as a guest of the White House last week.
General Electric “is now the poster child of corporate welfare and crony capitalism,” Palin wrote on her Facebook page, pointing out that the company “pays virtually no corporate income taxes despite earning worldwide profits of $14.2 billion last year.”
Continuing, Palin wrote that “they claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion, meaning they received more of our hard earned tax dollars than they contributed. How is that possible? It’s because not only do they shelter their money from taxes, but they also get many tax credits, loans, government grants, and other benefits from the federal government that our smaller businesses couldn’t even imagine being able to profit from.”
Palin summed it up, writing: “This crony capitalism and government waste is at the heart of our economic problems. It will destroy us if we don’t root it out. It’s not just a Democrat problem or a Republican problem. It’s a problem of our permanent political class. This won’t stop until ‘we the people’ say enough is enough, and we retire the permanent political class that votes for this.”
She prefaced her comments by saying she grew up with “great respect for GE thanks to stories my grandfather shared with us about his days working for the company and even meeting GE spokesman-at-the-time Ronald Reagan during a company event, I am saddened at GE’s leadership evolution.”
In a statement to The Daily Caller, a spokesman for GE acknowledged that, “People on both ends of the political spectrum are using GE as a political football, but the reality is that just 4 percent of GE revenues come from work for the government, and three-quarters of that is in supporting the military.”
“GE had a low tax rate last year because it lost billions in the financial crisis, not because it received special treatment,” said Andrew Williams, GE’s director of media relations. “GE favors tax reform, and would like nothing better than to spend more time selling our products and less time complying with the Byzantine tax code as written by Washington.”
Palin isn’t the only Republican using this sort of language. Several GOP presidential candidates, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, are “part of a small but growing trend toward free-market populism in Republican rhetoric, if not action,” the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney notes in a Thursday column.
“When Gingrich called out General Electric by name for profiting from special tax breaks and green subsidies,” Carney wrote, “he was expressing a growing conservative distaste for GE, which has visibly embraced President Obama’s subsidize-and-regulate economic policy.
“On everything from climate change and windmills to health care and embryonic stem cells,” Carney continued, “CEO Jeffrey Immelt has positioned GE to profit from big government, often lending the company’s unmatched lobbying clout to the administration’s efforts.”