No Auto Bailout, but Johnson Controls Got Big Government Subsidies

On Feb. 4, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton talked about the federal government bailing out Johnson Controls, an automotive parts company that makes car batteries. Clinton was critical of the company moving its headquarters from (high tax) Wisconsin to (low tax) Ireland as part of a merger with Tyco International.

The company responded with a clarification regarding its government subsidies. It came in the form of an op-ed the Detroit Free Press published from Johnson Controls Chairman Alex Molinaroli.

Molinari wrote of Clinton's assertion that the company received a bailout: "That is simply not true. Johnson Controls did not request and did not receive aid from the government during the financial crisis. Nor did the company declare bankruptcy. In fact, Johnson Controls did not even request an appearance before Congress on this subject. Rather, we were asked by customers and the Senate Banking Committee to testify in 2008 on behalf of automotive suppliers on proposed government support to U.S. automakers, who were struggling due to the financial crisis. Johnson Controls was not in financial distress and did not request aid from the government."

ForTheRecord says: In the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown, Presidents Bush and Obama both led Washington on a spending spree. The federal bailout bill signed by President Bush authorized $700 billion in spending under the name of the “Troubled Asset Relief Program.” TARP, as it was also known, included $80 billion for the auto industry and billions more in energy-related subsidies.

A few months later, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (better known was the federal stimulus) was signed into law by President Obama in 2009. That law authorized another $831 billion in federal spending, including huge subsidies for electric car battery plants — and a large Johnson Controls project.

Johnson Controls didn’t receive money from the auto bailout. But it did receive $299 million in taxpayer dollars from the federal stimulus for a battery plant in Michigan.