Where GE Didn’t Go

Much has been made of GE’s decision to relocate its corporate headquarters from Fairfield to Boston, with GOP opportunists denouncing Connecticut as high-tax and anti-business.

GE moved to Massachusetts, which is NOT a low-tax state. Though Massachusetts officials offered $150M in enticements, the main reason GE moved was because Fairfield no longer serves a business purpose for the “new GE.” Two of the “old GE’s” most important businesses were GE Capital and NBC Universal, which benefited from proximity to New York City; the new GE has exited both businesses and is re-inventing itself as a technology company. Thus, GE is relocating to a major city that is an existing tech industry hub and home to top universities (e.g. MIT, Harvard, Boston College).

There are states with lower taxes (business and personal) than Connecticut. Many of them are deep “red states,” with ultra-right-wing administrations, senators and representatives, all claiming to be pro-business.

GE did not move to Kansas, Wisconsin or any other state where the GOP has comprehensively implemented a low-tax, anti-union, de-regulatory program to disastrous effect on local economies, public services and employment rates.

GE did not move to Texas, South Carolina or any other ultra-red state represented by right-wing senators and representatives who voted to de-fund the Export Import Bank, a key source of export credit guarantees on which GE and other exporters rely. The people behind the effort to de-fund the EXIM Bank denounce it as “crony capitalism,” with no apparent understanding of the bank or the meaning of that charge. Never mind the thousands of very well-paying manufacturing jobs are put in jeopardy at GE, Boeing, United Technologies and others because they can’t even bid on international projects without official credit guarantees. Never mind that the EXIM Bank, rather than being a drain on the US Treasury and US taxpayers, actually makes money and returns it to the Treasury. Never let the facts get in the way of an ideological talking-point.

Between 2009 and 2014 the EXIM Bank provided $2.9 billion in export credit guarantees to Connecticut firms. The International Trade Administration estimates that 6,000 jobs are created for every $1 billion in exports, so we are talking 18,000 jobs in the state. (The comparable numbers for the US as a whole are $235 billion and 1.4 million jobs over the same period.) And these jobs tend to be in high-value-added sectors, and thus comparatively well-paying.

Furthermore, GE didn’t move to North Carolina, where the right-wing Republican Governor and legislature recently passed a law that prohibits municipalities in the state from outlawing discrimination against LGBT people. There has been an overwhelming corporate backlash against the law. Smart business leaders realize discrimination is rarely good for business, and Gov. Malloy is encouraging businesses disgusted by this nonsense to re-locate to Connecticut.

So the next time we hear how great Republicans are for business, take a look at the actual actions and records of Republicans governors and legislatures.

The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee supplies this column.