At this time of severe cutbacks in government funding for
Lockheed Martin would seem to be an unlikely recipient of this lavish government handout, at least on the basis of need. Indeed, it is one of the world's largest business enterprises, with sales that reached $47 billion in 2012. It is also America's largest defense contractor, and in fiscal 2012 its
The effort to shovel millions of additional taxpayer dollars to this giant corporation goes back to 2010, when the General Assembly passed a bill that exempted Lockheed Martin's hotel guests from paying the state hotel tax. Then, in 2011, the company asked to be exempted from the 7 percent hotel tax levied by
It should be noted that when Lockheed Martin's employees stay at the hotel, the company can usually pass on the costs to the appropriate federal contract. Thus, in most cases, the federal government already compensates Lockheed Martin for any hotel tax it pays.
In 2012, Montgomery County Executive
Lockheed Martin maintains that its conference hotel is a "private" facility solely devoted to training its employees, and for this reason its guests should not have to pay the tax. And it is true that Lockheed Martin decides who can reside there.
But the 183-room hotel is not, in fact, limited to Lockheed Martin employees. It is available for contractors, vendors and anyone else the company welcomes. For example, the business school of the University of Southern California held a conference there in October, with attendees offered the option of staying at the hotel for $225 per night or finding their own accommodations. Benchmark Hospitality International, which manages the facility, advertises it online as "a private, full-service business-class lodging and conference center" with a sports bar, fitness facility, lounge and other amenities.
Faced with the unwillingness of the County Council to provide a multimillion-dollar giveaway to this giant corporation, Lockheed Martin and its local enthusiasts have turned to the
The Maryland Senate is likely to vote on the amended bill this week. The House of Delegates will consider it thereafter.
Citizen activists, especially from Montgomery County, are outraged by what they are calling the "Corporate Welfare for Lockheed Martin" bill. Peace Action Montgomery coordinator Jean Athey terms it "blatant corporate welfare for one of the wealthiest, most profitable companies in the nation." She asks: "Why, in a time that
It's a question well worth considering.
Lawrence Wittner (http://lawrenceswittner.com) is a professor of history emeritus at SUNY/Albany who writes for PeaceVoice, which distributed this article. His latest book is "Working for Peace and Justice: Memoirs of an Activist Intellectual."