Just days after General Electric got some bad press over how the company made huge profits, but didn't pay anything in income taxes, Congress was told the Obama Administration gave the company money to help preserve health benefits for GE retirees.
"I understand you gave General Electric $36 million to help their early retirees," Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) said at a House hearing.
"Do you think it was absolutely necessary to fund early retirees for General Electric? Is that your position today?" Stearns asked.
Stearns didn't get much of an answer from Steven Larsen, the Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, which has been at the center of handing out waivers to selected parts of the health reform law.
"They haven't paid any taxes this past year," Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) said of GE. "They posted enormous profit and you're providing them $36 million?"
Democrats sternly defended this part of the Obama health law, which funnels money to companies so they won't drop health coverage for their retirees.
If those retirees had their coverage dropped, "I think they would have great difficulty finding coverage," said Larsen, in response to questions from Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The committee dustup over General Electric came in the wake of news stories that said the company made $14 billion in profits, but paid nothing in income taxes in 2010.
GE isn't the only well known company that received money in the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, as Republicans ticked off companies like AT&T, which received $140 million to help maintain insurance for its retirees.
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