You may think of Comcast, Disney, and Time Warner Cable as masters of belt-tightening, stock buybacks, and financial engineering. But the Progressive Policy Institute, the think tank that started off as former President Bill Clinton’s “idea mill,” says that last year they were also among the top investors in U.S. jobs and economic growth. They joined telecom and tech firms including AT&T, Verizon, Google, and Apple in the organization’s list of 25 non-financial U.S. companies that allocated the most money in 2011 to domestic capital spending. “In many cases this required detailed calculations and assumptions, since companies often report global capital spending without breaking it down by country,” says the report entitled Investment Heroes: Who’s Betting on America’s Future?

Comcast led the media pack (at No. 8 with $5.3B), followed by Disney (No. 17, $3.0B), and Time Warner Cable (No. 19, $2.9B). Comcast, which controls NBCUniversal, and Disney were credited for their theme park upgrades. “Such investment in property and technology upgrades will not only enhance productivity and create jobs — the type of jobs that could benefit the youth labor force — but it also gives consumers another reason to go out and spend locally,” the report says. The telecom companies topped the list with AT&T at No. 1 ($20.1B), Verizon at No. 2 ($16.2B) followed by Sprint Nextel at No. 16 ($3.1B). The tech giants had the final two slots with Google at No. 24 ($2.2B) and Apple at No. 25 ($2.0B).