A Political Drama|We’d Like to See

     President Obama should sign an executive order restricting corporate tax inversions.
     Wouldn’t that be great?
     The 279 Republican members of Congress would clutch at their breasts and die.
     Obama doesn’t have the guts to do it, but he should. It would draw some clear lines.
     In a tax inversion, a U.S. corporation ducks its taxes by declaring itself a foreign corporation, and paying its reduced tax bill to a foreign government.
     The U.S. corporation becomes, on paper, a subsidiary of its phony offshore shell, padding its income but ripping off the U.S. taxpayers who built and paid for the most expensive things the corporation needs to succeed: highways, bridges, airports, the electric grid, water, legal protections, police protection, workers, public education …
     Even some Republicans today acknowledge that inversions are an unethical – though legal – tax dodge. But Congress won’t stop it because – well, look at Congress.
     Obama could curb this tax dodge, which costs the U.S. Treasury billions of dollars a year, by executive order.
     The order would say, for example, that a U.S. corporation cannot declare itself a foreign corporation unless it actually conducts more than half of its business in the country where it wants to pay its taxes.
     That would stop the tax dodge cold.
     The surviving remnants of the 279 congressional Republicans would have a tizzy, but so what? Those guys need the exercise.
     Such an order would force Congress, and the country, to look at things honestly, for a change – a thing that hasn’t happened since Eisenhower’s Farewell Address.
     Republicans today claim, falsely, to be furious that Obama has issued any executive orders at all. So what did they do? They sued the president for failing to implement a section of Obamacare – a bill that no Republican voted for, and that they tried to repeal 50 times.
     The House lawsuit is the most transparently phony dodge I’ve seen since … tax inversions.
     Obama, of course, will never sign such an executive order, because of the Two Basic Rules of U.S. Politics.
     These rules are:
     1. Republicans are liars.
     2. Democrats are cowards.
     But doing it would help Obama politically.
     Corporations do not deserve a free tax ride, any more than you or I do.
     In the most prosperous decade in American history, the Eisenhower 1950s, corporations paid one-third of our country’s federal taxes.
     In that decade we built the interstate highway system, enormous parts of our huge hydroelectric grid, hundreds of airports, and U.S. workers, protected by unions, and the corporations they worked for profited like never before.
     Corporations pay about 10 percent of the federal tax bill today.
     Since the Great Recession, our corporations – but not the average U.S. citizen – have made out like bandits.
     U.S. corporations – I quote The Wall Street Journal – have stashed about $2 trillion overseas, because they don’t want to bring that money home – where they earned it – i.e., where we bought their stuff.
     Why should U.S. corporations be allowed to hide their profits offshore, and use our roads and airports and waterways, pollute our air and wield our legal and tax systems like clubs upon us – and pay taxes to Switzerland?

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