Patriotism is love of country, devotion to the welfare of one’s fellow citizens, and the virtuous passion which inspires one to serve one’s country. Economics is the science that studies the processes governing the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services in an exchange economy. The idea of economic patriotism, although a curious concept, is a principle President Obama hopes will encourage Republicans to stop “hollowing out a tax base” meant to starve government and show patriotism to America instead of the group they love, are profoundly devoted to, and are passionate to serve above all others
It is no secret Republicans and their corporate masters detest paying taxes, and to eliminate any possibility of ever paying taxes on their record profits, many corporations are moving their corporate addresses foreign countries. The tactic is called “inversion” and Republicans support the corporate maneuver to, as Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said, “avoid paying their fair share of taxes” that is costing America billions upon billions of dollars. Secretary Lew sent a letter to Congress urging them to stop the “hollowing out of the U.S.’s corporate income tax base,” and said Republicans “should not be providing support for corporations seeking to shift their profit overseas to avoid paying taxes.”
Republicans naturally demurred to the corporate position that unless America changes its tax policy and stops taxing income earned abroad, or “reforms” the tax code to eliminate the government’s ability to tax corporate income earned at home, they will block any attempt to stop inversions. The bottom line is Republicans, like their corporate funding mechanism, do not believe and will not support any legislation that taxes corporate profits; either abroad or at home.
Republicans and corporations falsely claim America’s corporate tax rate is the highest in the world at 35%. But that, like everything Republicans say, is a bald-faced lie. It is true the “official” corporate tax rate is 35%, but according to the Government Accountability Office, the effective, or real, rate corporations pay is 12.6%; clearly one of the lowest in the world. The 12.6% figure does not take into account corporations that claim no income or profit, or the inordinately large number of the richest corporations that pay nothing in taxes and get a refund from other taxpayers; 12.6% is the effective rate for corporations that do pay taxes. Republicans want to “reform” the tax code to guarantee that all American corporations pay nothing in taxes and get refunds (direct payment) from American taxpayers.
According to Citizens For Tax Justice, 26 of America’s wealthiest Fortune 500 corporations pay absolutely zero in taxes on huge profits. This is in addition to corporations that profited, and took outrageous tax write-offs, for closing and moving their operations, and American jobs, out of country to avoid paying taxes and take advantage of slave-wages in poor countries. Driven by their devotion to unlimited corporate profits, Republicans have even blocked attempts to pass legislation giving corporations tax breaks to bring operations and Americans’ jobs back home because their patriotism is to corporations; not America, its economic health, or American workers.
In 2012, President Obama began pressing Congress to pass the “Bring American Jobs Home Act” that eliminates corporations’ ability to deduct the cost of moving American jobs overseas from their taxes, and instead gives them an equivalent tax write-off for “re-shoring jobs from abroad to America.” Because it is an election year, Senate Republicans will finally allow limited debate on the bill (S. 2569), but they will not allow it to come up for a vote; doing so is committing treason against corporations.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed Republicans will filibuster, and block, a vote on the bill complaining that “It’s a bill that’s designed for campaign rhetoric and failure, not to create jobs here in the U.S., everyone knows that the Democrats aren’t being serious here.” Of course, McConnell is a liar; Democrats did attempt to pass the same bill in 2012, but Republicans obstructed their efforts because they “chose job-exporting corporations over American workers.” Their successful obstruction inspired Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) to say, “It’s outrageous that workers are paying to ship their own jobs overseas through the tax code. We should be rewarding companies that are bringing jobs home. This is about jobs. I hope that all of our colleagues, regardless of party, will join our fight to give every American worker a fair shot to get ahead.” Republicans will never join a fight to give American workers any shot, even if the workers pay corporations to move jobs back to America because the only thing Republicans hate more than American workers is the idea of corporations paying taxes here at home.
On Tuesday Stabenow rhetorically asked why Republicans are against eliminating subsidies to corporations sending Americans jobs overseas and wondered aloud; “Why would someone vote against this? You really think that American workers should pay the cost of the move when their jobs are being shipped overseas? Really?” Yes really. In fact, Republicans think that Americans should pay corporations directly for being American corporations, and it is why if corporations do not get the tax reform (zero tax rate) that allows them to operate tax-free in America, Republicans will block legislation stopping them from incorporating in foreign countries to avoid paying taxes.
The President calling on Republicans to demonstrate economic patriotism is as futile as expecting them to demonstrate patriotism to their country or the welfare of their fellow citizens. Their patriotism is to corporations, and in their minds asking them to pay their fair share in taxes is tantamount to treason. There is also the motivation to starve the government of revenue to fulfill Grover Norquist’s goal of “shrinking the government to a size they can drown in a bathtub.” Republicans cannot tolerate the idea of government having enough revenue to rebuild roads, bridges, hospitals, and schools, but they do support taxing other Americans and using the revenue to enrich corporations with more tax breaks and subsidies to move American jobs offshore. It is their idea of tax reform.
Republicans can no longer claim giving tax cuts to corporations is to inspire them to be the storied “job creators” they have claimed for the past thirty years, because part and parcel of those cuts are specifically to send American jobs overseas and reduce rates so low they will effectively be zero. Congressional Republicans claim they are open to stopping corporate inversions, but only after Democrats agree to cut corporate tax rates to get them closer to zero. If the official rate is 35% and corporations are only paying 12.6%, the 15% reduction Republicans demand will bring the effective rate to zero. Republicans also oppose incentivizing corporations to “re-source” American jobs because they enjoy killing jobs; not creating them. After four years of imposing cuts that kill jobs, obstructing job programs, even for returning war Veterans, they are not about to start helping America workers now because their loyalties, like their patriotism, is with corporations, not Americans.