‘Good corporate citizen’ is a contradiction in terms
Let’s play, “Scamming the System!” It’s the exciting and richly rewarding game that allows every American to use offshore income shelters and a labyrinth of loopholes to dodge their taxes. To get in the game, all you need is a few dozen tax lawyers, a flock of lobbyists, and an office in the Cayman Islands.
What? You don’t have any of those things? Well now—that’s your fault, isn’t it?
But them that’s got ’em—including Boeing, eBay, GE, Verizon, and at least a couple of dozen other brand-name players—are in the game big time. A new report by the Institute for Policy Studies reveals that these multibillion-dollar giants pay far more to their CEOs than they pay in taxes to help fund our nation’s crucial needs.
In fact, IPS reports that these top executives got their fat paychecks precisely because they were so focused on tax dodging. The corporations analyzed in the report averaged $1.9 billion in profits last year, yet paid zero in federal income taxes—instead, manipulating the system to get an average of $400 million each in refunds from the IRS! For being such skilled scammers, the chieftains of these corporations raked in an average of $16 million in personal pay last year—way above the average pay for CEOs of other big businesses.
Meanwhile, corporations are lobbying Washington to be given a tax cut. They wail that the U.S. corporate tax rate of 35 percent is higher than any other industrial nation except Japan and that this “burden” is hobbling their global competitiveness. B.S., these scammers aren’t paying anywhere near 35 percent—if anything.
Wow, these greedheads really put the “sin” in cynical. To help stop them from gaming us, check out the Institute’s reform recommendations: www.ips-dc.org
In the infamous Enron scandals of a decade ago, unregulated energy hucksters created an array of dummy financial funds so they could evade public scrutiny and perpetrate fraud. To disguise the scams, the funds were given such names as Chewco and JEDI.
While Enron’s house of cards collapsed, “Enron accounting” not only continues in Corporate America today, it is also infesting an endeavor that should never be tainted with such financial gimmickry: America’s democracy. Corporate hucksters, intent on political profiteering, are setting up dummy funds with such star-spangled names as Make Us Great Again and Restore Our Future.
These are Super PACs, created to amass millions of dollars in unrestricted corporate cash to back the candidacies of particular presidential wannabes. These groups can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money—something the candidates themselves are barred from doing. Already, the dummy funds are becoming larger than the candidate’s own campaigns, allowing a few big money interests to pervert our democratic process into their plutocratic plaything. How few? As of August, more than 80 percent of the money in Super PACs backing Republican candidates has come from only 35 people writing six- and seven-figure checks.
Technically, these dummy groups must not coordinate their actions with the candidates they back, but this “ban” is a fraud. For example, Rick Perry’s Make Us Great Again PAC is headed by a corporate lobbyist who had been Perry’s chief of staff and is now both a major fund raiser and political advisor for Perry. Hello—the front group, the lobbyist, the fund raiser, and the advisor don’t have to “coordinate”—they’re all the same person!
What these Super PACs represent is the Enronization of our politics—a legalized corruption that’s tantamount to a corporate takeover.