The Business Roundtable is an association of the CEOs of America’s biggest companies. Their total revenues are more than $7.3 trillion, and they employ nearly 16 million people somewhere in the world. Their big priority, supported by millions from their corporate treasuries, is to cut corporate taxation from 35% to 25%, which is hilarious when you realize that most of their members don’t pay anywhere near either rate. Among the members are GE, Tenet Healthcare, PG&E Corporation, and a host of other tax dodging companies. And lest you think that matters, Carter Wood, Senior Communications Advisor at Business Roundtable, will be happy to tell you that whatever they pay is way too much, and they are all moving off-shore.
Taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilized society, you know, a society that respects the legal and property rights of GE, Tenet Healthcare, PG&E and the rest of the tax haters. A society that builds ports and roads so people and goods can move in commerce or across the ocean. If someone weren’t paying taxes corporations like Carnival Cruise line wouldn’t be able to operate at all. According to David Leonhart in the New York Times, Carnival has paid only 1.1% of its cumulative 5 year earnings in taxes of any kind. Its big benefit is that it is a Panama corporation, not an American company, (ignore that corporate headquarters in Florida) so under 26 USC § 883(a)(1) it doesn’t owe taxes. That provision was inserted by the Tax Reform Act of 1986, one of many spineless caves by the Democrats to Ronald Reagan’s tax cutting mania.
Anyway, as I was saying, 99% of us human Americans are allowed to exist so we can pay the taxes and serve in the Armed Forces that enable Business Roundtable corporations to operate around the world. It’s best if those taxes are paid by poor people, and the two major parties are hell bent on creating as many poor people to pay those taxes as possible. Mammon forbid that any dribble of taxation should fall on the feral rich, their thug corporations or their merely wealthy minions. Taxes are for you and me.
And with the job creators all lined up for reducing the nominal rate, they insist on revenue neutrality, the idea that when we reduce corporate rates, we don’t somehow increase the amount of corporate tax revenue, currently at absurdly low levels. They may be in favor of cutting some tax loopholes, but their good friends in Congress must be vigilant to insure that they don’t increase their share of the burdens of civilization. Problems, problems. Someone in this crowd is going to have to pay more, depending on which loopholes get closed. Maybe Carnival is a good choice, because it has such a crappy image right now. Or maybe we just cut the rates without cutting the loopholes. Leonhart isn’t sure the Business Roundtable supports ending loopholes anyway. They sure haven’t said they do.
So what do they support? Cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Gary Loveman, President and CEO of Caesars Entertainment Corp., a gambling company, and Chair of the Business Roundtable Committee on Health and Retirement, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal explaining that we, presumably including his own gold-plated butt, can’t afford our government, so we should raise the eligibility ages for Medicare and Social Security, increase private sector involvement in Medicare, and cut Medicare and Social Security for anyone who has a pittance of their own until they are reduced to abject poverty and can’t afford to go to Caesar’s anymore. “We” need to cut Social Security and raise taxes by switching to Chained CPI. That ought to be enough to give Caesars a big tax cut. Oh wait. Caesars doesn’t pay taxes. It’s been losing money for years.
I think Loveman deserves a free trip on Carnival, assuming any of its ships is ever fit to sail again.
Chart from the National Priorities Project.