General Electric logo. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Earlier this year, The Nation published a series on Fix the Debt, a DC lobbying group that has, under a banner of reining in government debts, pushed for slashing government programs.
Critics, including writers here, note that the group is led by many of the corporate executives who are in fact largely responsible for government red ink. The CEOs leading Fix the Debt hail from large companies that have lobbied for special tax credits, wasteful subsidies and reductions in rates. In many cases, the Fix the Debt leaders railing against government debt are in charge of companies that have paid virtually no taxes because of their influence over the tax code. Despite their role in creating the debt, Fix the Debt business executives have pressured lawmakers to have retirees, students and other welfare recipients shoulder the burden of austerity.
As The Nation reported, much of Fix the Debt’s campaign has been underwritten by billionaire Pete Peterson. The Committee for a Responsible Budget, the sponsor of Fix the Debt, does not disclose donors.
A new voluntary disclosure reveals that one of the most infamous untaxed corporations is also financing the group. Last year, General Electric provided Fix the Debt, by way of its sponsor, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, with a $1 million donation.
As The New York Times reported, GE, thanks to a complex set of tax credits and federal subsidies, paid no federal income taxes in 2010.
Many point to campaign contributions or registered lobbyists as the reason large companies collect so many advantages from the tax code. I would argue that a more significant advantage for these companies relates to donations like this million-dollar check from GE to Fix the Debt. Corporations have wide leeway in manipulating public discourse through front groups like Fix the Debt, which sponsors everything from television advertisements to grassroots organizing, and face little accountability.
Fix the Debt is not really about the economy, it’s about gutting Medicare, Social Security and other social programs.