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Hullabaloo


Friday, March 11, 2016

 

Short Attention Span Theater

by Tom Sullivan

After several years of delays, Short Attention Span Theater will again resume production on Repatriation Tax Holiday 2.

Robert Reich flagged District Studios' announcement yesterday on Facebook:

I’ve spent the last day in Washington, where Democrats are quietly gearing up to negotiate a “tax amnesty” for American-based global corporations that have parked some $2.1 trillion in untaxed profits abroad (mostly in tax havens) to avoid paying their U.S. taxes. The U.S. corporate tax rate is 35 percent, but Obama is ready to offer 14 percent if they’ll bring the profits home; Republicans want 10 percent; some Democratic senators are willing to go even lower (Barbara Boxer is teaming up with Rand Paul to offer 6.5 percent). Corporate lobbyists are swarming over Capitol Hill, suggesting if they don’t get a great deal they might not just keep the profits abroad but even move their corporations abroad (like Pfizer is doing).

It's corporate extortion on a giant scale. The best way to deal with extortionists is not give in to them at all. If America’s global corporations knew there’d never ever be a tax amnesty, they’d stop waiting for it. They’d bring home the profits they need to invest in their American businesses. As to those threatening to move abroad – let them. If they’re unwilling to pay taxes for the benefits of being American (including protection of their global assets and intellectual property), then sayonara.
William Greider agrees:
If the big corporations wish to leave America, I say good riddance—call their bluff. On their way to the door, though, Congress should present them with their unpaid due bills. It should cover not only the taxes they have dodged for years but also the much larger debt they owe the country for all the free services and subsidies they received from taxpayers as they developed their profit-making machinery. If accounts were settled fairly, Congress would have plenty of money to spend. If lawmakers found the courage to cut off the corporate free riders, that would be a political revolution.
Remind me again, why is it "amnesty" (bad) to allow undocumented persons to stay in this country, but okay to lavish billions in giveaways to corporate persons who flee it to dodge taxes?

This is, after all, the sequel to George W. Bush's 2004 feature, the American Jobs Creation Act — which didn't, you recall. Carly Fiorina would too. Her Hewlett-Packard used the windfall for stock buybacks:
Never mind that the bill prohibited such buybacks.

And all that talk about putting more Americans to work did not stop the corporations from cutting as many as 100,000 American jobs in the name of even greater profits.

Hewlett-Packard saved more than $4.3 billion and put more than $4 billion into stock buybacks. It laid off 14,500 workers.
Billed as a one-time-only tax giveaway, the 2004 Bush vanity project was a sloppy, wet kiss to studio investors that let them repatriate hundreds of billions at a steep discount, the way those letters of transit let Victor and Ilsa escape Casablanca for America. Just without the dead Nazis.

Like the quotable Casablanca, the Bush bill at least gave us this memorable one about repatriation's stimulus effect (emphasis mine):
"There will be some stimulative effect because it pumps money into the economy," said Phillip L. Swagel, a former chief of staff on President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, which had opposed the tax holiday. "But you might as well have taken a helicopter over 90210 [Beverly Hills] and pushed the money out the door. That would have stimulated the economy as well."
Pretty pathetic, actually, that Democrats in 2016 are trying to revive this stinker from the trickle-down school of lawmaking. The last failed revival involved Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Kay Hagan (D-NC). Is it any wonder people argue there's no difference between the parties when rival studio executives climb into bed with each other to produce a mockbuster of American Hustle?