In one of his first acts as Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan oversaw doling out $17 million in corporate welfare to Wall Street banks. How did he manage this? The usual sneaky way– by tacking this onto an unrelated piece of “must pass” legislation. (You’ll remember that’s how Republican lawmakers weakened Wall Street regulation last year.)
Yesterday, 354 members of the House of Representatives– all but two Republicans and 70 Democrats– voted to continue the ongoing bank welfare and which was attached a multi-million-dollar highway bill. (They also reauthorized the charter for the “controversial” Export Import Bank in the highway bill.) The primary holdouts were members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, co-chaired by Southern Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva.
Ironically, the GOP didn’t want to add a long-term funding mechanism to pay for highway construction and repair. (I guess funding provisions are “must-haves” only when legislation focuses on food stamps, school lunches, college loans, unemployment, healthcare, public education, and Social Security.) Historically highways have been funded by the users through gas taxes, but the Republicans successfully block any crazy talk about raising gas taxes.
Personally, I think we are enabling big corporations to be lazy by allowing them to live “on the dole”. When corporate taxes are low and corporate welfare is high, there is a disincentive to innovate and invest. The Congress and many state legislatures have told the poor that it is for their own good to have their “entitlements” cut– less they become slothful. It’s time to cut corporate “entitlements”. After all, it’s for their own good because forcing to pay their own way will promote hard work and self-reliance, rather than indolence and dependence.