The U.S. Senate recently passed the CHIPS+ Act designed to encourage more U.S. companies to produce the semiconductors that power computers, appliances, automobiles, airplanes, and some of the military most advanced weapons. The $280 billion measure includes grants and tax breaks and directs Congress to increase spending on high-tech research programs. This legislation is intended to lower costs for working families, strengthen our supply chain, keep jobs in America, and ensure we can out-compete countries like China. Senator Grassley called the bill “unnecessary corporate welfare” and voted against it.
Apparently, the senator’s definition of corporate welfare depends on the industry. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, from 2000 to 2018, the 35 largest pharmaceutical companies reported a gross profit of $8.6 trillion, all coming from us through insurance premiums or out-of-pocket. Yet, over that period, Senator Grassley repeatedly refused to support legislation requiring that Medicare negotiate lower drug prices like the VA does. Since the senator has accepted more than $1 million from Big Pharma throughout his career, we can understand his reluctance to call these trillions in profits corporate welfare. However, he willingly applies this label to the semiconductor industry whose products are at the center of our modern society, including the smartphone he uses for his frequent tweets about government waste. Should we rely on our largest economic competitor, China, for one of America’s core technologies while many of our fellow citizens can’t afford overpriced drugs? We need real, honest leadership, not catchy, misleading labels.