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Eliminate Corporate Subsidies

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  • Renewable Energy Needs Government Subsidies

    Clip: The argument against corporate subsidies gets challenged when the issue of renewable energy technologies comes up and whether they can compete with traditional industry without subsidies.

  • Does America Need Subsidies to Compete Globally?

    Clip: Debaters discuss whether American industry can compete with other countries, like China, that have state owned enterprises in a free market without government subsidizing some costs.

  • Volley Round: Should the Government Pick Winners and Losers?

    Clip: Both sides of the debate answer the question "Should the government be in the business of picking winners and loser?"

  • 2-Minute Debate: Eliminate Corporate Subsidies

    Should we eliminate corporate subsidies? This debate short is part of a series co-produced by Intelligence Squared U.S. and Newsy.

Debate Details

The auto industry, agriculture, the energy sector. What do they have in common? These industries benefit from government subsidies in the form of loans, tax breaks, regulation, and other preferences. Critics from the left and right say that not only do these subsidies transfer wealth from taxpayers to corporations, they distort the markets and our economy. Proponents say that government has an important role to play in launching innovation via strategic investment, and its support helps American companies thrive. Do we need subsidies, or is this corporate welfare?

The Debaters

For the motion

Jack Abramoff

Former Lobbyist & Author, Capitol Punishment

Jack Abramoff is arguably one of the world'€s most famous lobbyists and former Washington power players. Dubbed on the cover of Time as the '€Man... Read More

Zephyr Teachout

Assoc. Professor, Fordham Law & Fmr. Nat’l Dir., Sunlight Foundation

Zephyr Teachout is an associate law professor at Fordham Law School. She writes about political law, with a focus on corruption: her book Corruption... Read More

Against the motion

Kate Gordon

Vice Chair of Climate & Sustainable Urbanization, Paulson Institute

Kate Gordon is a nationally recognized expert on the intersection of clean energy and economic development. Currently she serves as Vice Chair of... Read More

Michael Lind

Co-Founder, New America Foundation

Michael Lind is a co-founder of the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., where he is the policy director of its Economic Growth Program and... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • By subsidizing corporations and industries, the U.S. government is distorting markets and the economy.
  • We've created a corrupt system where industry groups and large corporations lobby the government, and the government in turn rewards them with subsidies.
  • According to Good Jobs First, the federal government has given away some $68 billion in subsidies over the last 15 years, two-thirds of which has gone to corporations that don't need it—giving big businesses an unfair advantage.
Against The Motion
  • Government subsidies have backed important R&D programs that have played a critical role in launching new technology, like the Internet and fracking.
  • Government support is crucial to helping nascent industries break into entrenched industries like the energy sector.
  • Subsidies are critical to helping U.S. companies compete in a global marketplace where countries like Germany and China are heavily subsidizing industries.

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The Research

The Research

I Know the Congressional Culture of Corruption

July 24, 2012

Congressmen accept donations and solemnly recite their oath of office: My vote is not for sale for a mere contribution. They are wrong.

Jack Abramoff on Political Corruption

December 6, 2011

Abramoff talks with Lessig about lobbying.

Jack Abramoff Talks Corruption, Lobbying & Washington Reform

September 16, 2015

Abramoff discusses Washington lobbying, corruption, and his quest to help reform politics after his prison sentence for conspiracy to bribe politicians, tax fraud, and more.

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