Subsidymagination: GE CEO advises Obama to just ‘give me the money’?

It has paid General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt very well to snuggle up to President Obama and his plan to socialize America and to do away with free markets and free enterprise.

General Electric will receive $40 million in federal stimulus money and another $15 million in New York State grant money to build a $100 million locomotive-battery plant near Albany, NY, according to the Wall Street Journal. The plant will eventually employ 350 people and could generate as much as $500 million per year in revenue by 2015, according to GE.

A few points to ponder:

  • The feds and NY state will be spending a total of $55 million to create 350 factory jobs. That works out to government spending of about $157,000 per factory job created. The median household income in Albany County for 2007 was about $70,000 per year. The factory jobs would not commence until mid-2011.
  • If it only takes a $100 million capital investment to build a plant that will be generating $500 million in revenue in six years and $1 billion within ten years, shouldn’t GE — a company with almost $180 billion in annual revenue, $19 billion in cash flow and $18 billion in operating profits — be able to afford the plant without nursing off taxpayers?
  • Since taxpayers will front 55 percent of the plant’s construction costs, what exactly will taxpayers receive in return? Will GE repay taxpayers with profits from the factory?
  • Hybrid locomotives are not some slam-dunk technology. A recent effort to market a hybrid locomotive designed for limited railyard use just failed.
  • Keeping in mind that GE’s hybrid locomotive has yet to be commercialized, it’s featured benefit is only a 10 percent fuel savings at best, plus the attendant reduction in air emissions — hardly something to get excited about.
  • Is GE getting this sweetheart stimulus deal because CEO Jeff Immelt sits on President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board? Exactly what advice does Immelt provide to Obama — ‘give me the money’? Isn’t this a conflict-of-interest?
  • Immelt is also a big supporter of Obama’s plans for greenhouse gas regulation (called “Ecomagination”) and nationalizing health care (called “Healthymagination”) since GE would benefit immensely from such legislation.
  • GE has already received a $140 billion bailout from taxpayers.

Ask Gary Sheffer, GE’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs, whether GE should just collapse its rent-seeking efforts under the single rubric of Subsidymagination. E-mail him at gary.sheffer@ge.com or phone him at 203-373-3476. Feel free to share his response with the rest of us.

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