from Garry, Patrick M.. The False Promise of Big Government: How Washington Helps the Rich and Hurts the Poor (Kindle Locations 336-343). Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Kindle Edition.
In 2015 the Capital Research Center reported that GE had spent more than $300 million on lobbying since 1998. Its CEO visited the White House dozens of times. The progressive group Americans for Tax Fairness states that GE paid no federal income taxes from 2008 to 2012 and received $3.1 billion in refunds, despite earning $27.5 billion in profits during the same period. Even if this estimate is exaggerated, GE paid nowhere near the statutory rate of 35 percent in income taxes.
General Electric also reaped benefits from the Obama administration’s “green economy” spending. GE received more than $2 billion in federal loan guarantees for wind and solar projects. Moreover, it invested heavily in a company that made lithium-ion batteries for electric cars; that company received $132 million in federal stimulus funds—and then went bankrupt. All these government benefits occurred because GE has the resources to lobby federal officials and work the corporate tax code to its benefit, while smaller rivals do not.
GE is the most disappointing stock on the Dow 30. Its price has plummeted 40% while the rest of the market is daily hitting new highs, up over 30% since the Trump inauguration. It has recently cut its dividend in half.
GE under Jeff Immelt was heralded as one of the most progressive corporations. Perhaps there is a lesson that rent seeking behavior has limits. It can never replace the power of serving customers and investors with sound business practices.