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We're already subsidizing some automakers

The Senate has rejected, for at least the time being, a $14 billion loan to General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. A subsidy watchdog group has calculated that state and local governments have given foreign-owned automobile plants some $3.6 billion in grants, tax breaks and other assorted financial assistance since 1980.

In reality, the number is probably a lot higher, especially when inflation is taken into account, but Good Jobs First compiled the numbers as a way of saying government has long been in the auto-subsidy business.

Do not read this as an endorsement on my part of any auto bailout. I just find the information interesting.

I mean, it's not like the Big Three haven't benefited from all sorts of subsidies as well. Locally there's been big hydropower discounts, state grants, etc.

Two years ago, when I did my Power Failure series, I calculated hyrdopower savings at $7.1 million annually for the GM plant in the Town of Tonawanda and $2.6 million for the Ford plant in Hamburg. Delphi Automotive in Lockport, long a GM property as Harrison Radiator, was saving $7.8 million.

Here's the list complied by Good Jobs First, which includes property and sales tax exemptions, income tax credits, infrastructure aid, land discounts and training grants. The list is drawn from press accounts, which probably overlooked some deals.

  • Volkswagen, Chattanooga, TN, 2008, $577 million
  • Kia, West Point, GA, 2006, $400 million
  • Toyota, Blue Springs, MS, 2007, $300 million
  • Nissan, Canton, MS, 2000, $295 million
  • Hyundai, Montgomery, AL, 2002, $252 million
  • Honda, Lincoln, AL, 1999, $248 million
  • Nissan, Smyrna, TN, 1980, $233 million
  • Nissan, Decherd, TN, 1995, $200 million
  • BMW, Spartanburg, SC, 1992$, $150 million
  • Toyota, Georgetown, KY, 1985, $147 million
  • Honda, Greensburg, IN, 2006, $141 million
  • Toyota, San Antonio, TX, 2003, $133 million
  • Subaru, Lafayette, IN, 1986, $94 million
  • Honda, Marysville OH, 1980, $27 million*
  • Toyota, Princeton, IN, 1995, $30 million
  • Toyota, Huntsville, AL, 2001, $30 million
  • Honda, Anna, OH, 1985, $27 million*
  • Honda, East Liberty, OH, 1987, $27 million*
  • Toyota, Buffalo, WV, 1996, more than $15 million
  • Mercedes-Benz, Vance, AL, 1993, $258 million

I find it interesting that the three richest deals are the most recent, starting with the more than half-billion dollars going to Volkswagen in Chattanooga. That and the Kia deal in Georgia come to nearly $1 billion.


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