Introduction: Eliminate Corporate Subsidies (04:15)
Moderator John Donvan introduces Bob Rosenkranz who frames the debate about corporate subsidies.
Debate "Housekeeping" (05:49)
Donvan introduces the panelists and explains the debate format. Audience members record their preliminary vote.
For the Motion: Jack Abramoff (07:18)
Former lobbyist and television program host, Abramoff states that conversations about subsidies should center on the amount of money corporations in the U.S. receive through tax breaks. We cannot ethically, economically, constitutionally, socially, or politically afford subsidies.
Against the Motion: Michael Lind (06:59)
Author and New America Economic Growth Program Co-Founder and Policy Director, Lind states that there are two types of corporate subsidies; some can meet public objectives. Three tests indicate whether a subsidy is good or bad.
For the Motion: Zephyr Teachout (07:36)
Fordham Law School Associate Law Professor and author, Teachout states corporate subsidies are a significant driver of corruption. She explains how subsidies are used, their impact on small business economy, and how they change Americans on a fundamental level; subsides are a result of bad rules.
Against the Motion: Kate Gordon (07:33)
Paulson Institute Climate and Sustainable Urbanization Vice Chair and Center on Global Energy Policy Non-Resident Fellow, Gordon explains the three main reasons subsidies occur. Since 2000, energy companies received the biggest subsidies. Subsidies are not inherently corrupt; we should deal with corruption and inefficiency.
Inevitability of Corruption (06:26)
Donvan summarizes the panelists' opening statements. Lind states that you have to judge subsidies by results. Abramoff says a "little corruption" is not acceptable because there is no such thing.
Corruption: Agencies vs. Government (05:08)
Gordon states that corruption is most endemic with a weak government. Teachout argues that we currently have a corruption crisis and it is time for structural reform. Lind cites campaign finance corruption. Abramoff argues that corruption does not end with campaign finance; you cannot regulate away corruption.
Removing Corruption (02:50)
Gordon cites ways of holding transactions accountable, but some public issues cannot wait for regulation. Teachout questions Gordon about eliminating fossil fuel subsidies. Gordon would not eliminate them, but sunsetting is necessary.
Renewable Energy Subsidies (04:03)
Abramoff is not certain government should provide subsidies for an area the private sector is divided on. Teachout states we need better rules. Gordon states that eliminating energy subsidies would send renewable development to other countries.
Subsidies and the Constitution (01:20)
Lind discusses the export-import bank. Abramoff believes it is dangerous to view the government as "our partner;" some subsidies are beyond the Constitution. Lind cites Alexander Hamilton's position on federal subsidies.
QA: Government Identification of Subsidies (06:05)
Gordon states that in general, the government has a good track record on choosing energy subsidies. Teachout believes the area of government that chooses between companies is the worst area of government in terms of competence.
QA: Optimal Return on Corruption (02:36)
Lind states the U.S. is a relatively high trust society and far less corrupt than in the past; he cites examples. Teachout counters that the U.S. is currently in a phase of high corruption.
QA: Sunset Subsidies (01:55)
Gordon cites examples of sunset subsidies. Lind states that subsidies that sunset every few years would create a business for lobbyists.
QA: Savings from Subsidies (03:34)
Lind cites examples where benefits from subsidies have been passed on. Zephyr supports some government intervention but generally believes it is a corrosive transaction.
QA: Technology-Based Subsidies vs. Competition-Based Subsidies (04:03)
Lind explains why individual firms have to "jump through hoops" to qualify for grants. Teachout argues that the corporate subsidy culture harms small businesses. Gordon states that some subsides are shifting to a competition-based model.
QA: International Competition (02:35)
Lind argues that corporate subsidies are necessary to compete internationally; Lind and Gordon cite examples. Abramoff argues that China is an example of "vis-a-vis" corruption. Teachout states we need a new 21st century trade approach.
QA: Affording Subsidies (02:01)
Abramoff states we have to get control of government expenditure. Lind discusses the debt to GDP ratio and discretionary non-defense spending.
Subsidies Selection (02:15)
Panelists express whether or not they believe the government should be involved in choosing companies or industries as recipients.
Concluding Statement For: Zephyr Teachout (02:41)
Teachout references a Langston Hughes poem. America is currently in a crisis of corruption; big companies are governing us.
Concluding Statement Against: Michael Lind (01:47)
The 2009 stimulus act provided incentives to health care providers to switch to electronic health records; a successful federal policy.
Concluding Statement For: Jack Abramoff (02:10)
Abramoff recalls seeking a tax advantage for a company that met all the criteria for a subsidy. Government has immense power and the subsidy system is corrosive.
Concluding Statement Against: Kate Gordon (01:14)
The motion is absolute. If you think any subsidy mentioned during the debate is good, you must vote against the motion.
Time to Vote (04:17)
Donvan instructs the audience to vote, thanks panelists and supporters, and introduces the next Intelligence Squared Debate.
Audience Vote Results (01:03)
Pre-Debate - For: 34% - Against: 15% - Undecided: 51%
Post-Debate - For: 36% - Against: 53% - Undecided: 11%
Credits: Eliminate Corporate Subsidies: A Debate (00:49)
Credits: Eliminate Corporate Subsidies: A Debate
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