Dave is founder and principal author at Seeing the Forest, and a blogger at Speak Out California. He is a frequent public speaker, talk-radio personality and a leading participant in the progressive blogging community.
Before starting Seeing the Forest, Dave had over 20 years of technology industry experience. Recently he helped co-found Carbon Tracing, Inc., the company developing the desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US. He previously held senior industry positions including CEO and VP of Sales and Marketing. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic, and he was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. Send e-mail to Dave. Twitter: http://twitter.com/dcjohnson
Corporate conservatives have taken notice of the Bernie Sanders campaign, and have started accusing him of "buying votes" by "promising" "free stuff." Is it true?
Here are some examples of what the corporate/billionaire-funded right is saying:
● American Thinker, "Surprise: Bernie Sanders's free stuff will be very expensive for...
Many say we should "run government like a business" and "save money" by "cutting spending" and "making government smaller." Does this work? Do We the People really save money by doing these things?
Have you heard the phrase "penny-wise and pound-foolish"? How about "a stitch in time saves nine"? Maybe...
Secretary Hillary Clinton has accepted millions in "speaking fees" and campaign contributions from interest groups - most notably Wall Street firms - that she will be in a position to help or hurt as president. She promises that the money will not influence her if she takes office, but voters...
As the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) "free-trade" agreement was signed in New Zealand by representatives of the 12 participating countries, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders strongly voiced his opposition and committed to doing what he can to kill the deal if he is elected president.
Rival Hillary Clinton has also stated opposition to the TPP, but will she also vow to kill it if elected?
Sanders Vows To Kill TPP
Saying that TPP follows in the footsteps of failed trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA, and Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with China, Sanders promised to "fundamentally rewrite our trade policies to benefit working families, not just the CEOs of large, multinational corporations."
He said that supporters of these agreements have sold them as creating jobs, but over and over again, they have been proven dead wrong.
President Bill Clinton sold NAFTA in 1993, saying it would create a million American jobs over a five-year period. Instead, NAFTA led to the loss of close to 700,000 jobs.
The conservative Cato Institute said that the trade deal with China would create far more export opportunities for America than the Chinese. Instead, the trade deal with China has led to the loss of 3.2 million jobs, and enormous, humongous and continuing trade deficits with that country.
Since 2001, nearly 60,000 manufacturing plants in this country have been shut down and we have lost over 4.7 million manufacturing jobs. If the workers find new jobs at all, they are usually lower-paying.
Sanders said at the press conference, "Trade is a good thing. But trade has got to be fair. And the TPP is anything but fair."
Senders vowed to kill TPP if elected, saying, "As your president, not only will I make sure that the TPP does not get implemented, I will not send any trade deal to Congress that will make it easier for corporations to outsource American jobs overseas."
Clinton Said She Opposes TPP, But Won't Lobby To Stop It
Secretary Clinton voiced her opposition to the TPP in October, saying, "I appreciate the hard work that President Obama and his team put into this process and recognize the strides they made. But the bar here is very high and, based on what I have seen, I don't believe this agreement has met it."
However, Clinton also stated that she will not lobby against TPP, leaving many to wonder if her statement of opposition, coming just before the first debate, was serious or only for election purposes because of the unpopularity of the agreement. Then Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue said in a recent Bloomberg TV interview that he believes Clinton will switch to supporting TPP after the election. Inside Trade (paywall) reported that Donohue said that Clinton has publicly opposed the deal chiefly because Sen. Bernie Sanders opposes it.
So the question is, will Clinton join Sanders in vowing to kill TPP if elected? Or will she change sides and implement it? From December's post," Does Clinton Really Oppose TPP? There Is a Test For That":
Millions of voters, betrayed and cynical, have simply given up on the system. They haven't gotten anything from the system in a long time. They don't vote and they don't believe the things politicians tell them.
Candidate Hillary Clinton might not need those voters to win the nomination and maybe not even to win the election. But if she wants "coattails" to bring in a Democratic House and Senate, be it in 2016 or 2018, she is going to have to earn their trust.
Democratic voters are skeptical of promises. They want to see proof. They want to see action. They want to see changes. Or they will just stay home. And the terrible mess we are in will continue and worsen.
So the gauntlet has been thrown down. Sanders has vowed to kill the TPP if elected. Clinton says she is opposed but has said she will not ask others to vote against it. But the TPP will be terribly destructive of jobs and wages. It will worsen the terrible inequality that is killing the middle class. Will Clinton vow to kill the TPP if elected?
George McGovern was the Democratic nominee against incumbent Richard Nixon in the 1972 election. He lost in a landslide. Just as the events of the 1980s shaped the current economic environment, the 1970s "Nixonian" politics of division shaped the current political environment. Did Democrats learn the right lessons from...
The Supreme Court has once again decided to reconsider "settled law." This time it is a case involving the rights of public-employee unions to charge employees a fee for the services the unions are required by law to provide to all employees -- even those who are not members of...
Everyone understands that our (and the world's) economy is underperforming. While U.S. unemployment is down, people are finding jobs that underpay and/or don't provide enough hours. Regular people just don't have enough to get by -- never mind enough to drive consumer economies. The lack of pay causes a drop...
It might not seem so in the middle of a day's news cycle, especially with that news always being about Donald Trump, but 2015 marked a year of change in a progressive direction. And the country is solidly behind this move.
Progressive Victories In 2015
The country is moving in...
In a country with a Constitution beginning with the words, "We the People," should our economy work for all of us instead of just a few of us? You would think it should work for We the People, but example after example shows how it is actually rigged to work...
"The United States has two separate banking systems today -- one serving the well-to-do and another exploiting everyone else," -- Prof. Mehrsa Baradaran, author of How the Other Half Banks.
"Car title loan for $1200.00. $300 a month interest. They are killing me and no way to pay back the...
The "omnibus" budget for the next year is out. Here are some of the winners and losers.
With a Republican Congress, every budget battle is about ratcheting down the things our government does to make our lives better. Every budget battle is a defensive action, with Democrats fighting to keep...
Many people have come to believe politicians say what they need to say to win, and then turn on them. If Hillary Clinton wants to win the Democratic nomination and inspire people to vote for her in the general election, she must find ways to overcome this voter skepticism.
In the recent post, "How The Clinton and Sanders Infrastructure Plans Measure Up," I mistakenly wrote that candidate Bernie Sanders does not yet have a corporate tax proposal:
Clinton's infrastructure plan says only that it will be paid for through "business tax reform." It does not detail the...
"Investing in infrastructure makes our economy more productive and competitive across the board." -- Hillary Clinton
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has announced a plan for infrastructure investment. How does her plan stack up against that of her chief competitor, Bernie Sanders?
Also, how will Clinton and Sanders pay...
"It's not that taxes are far too high for giant corporations, as the lobbyists claim. No, the problem is that the revenue generated from corporate taxes is far too low."
- Senator Elizabeth Warren
Senator Elizabeth Warren gave a "Change Is In The Air" speech Wednesday, talking about corporate tax reform. If there was ever an Elizabeth Warren speech to see, it is this one.
Warren began by describing how lobbyists and corporate CEOs are swarming Congress and saturating the media with a pitch that says corporations are paying too much in taxes, that this is forcing corporations to flee abroad and the solution is to slash corporate tax rates. This story of overtaxation is told and retold.
Warren says there is just one problem with this: "It's not true."
Actually, on average corporations only pay 20 percent of their income in taxes. Some pay zero. Boeing, GE, and Verizon paid nothing in 5 years while reporting $80 billion in combined profits.
"So what's the problem with our corporate tax code? It's not that taxes are far too high for giant corporations, as the lobbyists claim. No, the problem is that the revenue generated from corporate taxes is far too low.
This trend line is unmistakable. Over the past 60 years corporations contributed a smaller and smaller share of costs of running government. Back in the 1950s, corporations contributed about $3 out of every $10 in federal revenue. Today corporations contribute just $1 out of every $10."
The Amount Is Staggering
Warren said the amount of money the giant corporations have stashed outside the country in tax havens - and the tax bill they would owe - is staggering. They have $2.1 trillion in untaxed profits sitting offshore. This is the same as the combined total earnings of all U.S. corporations in 2013. (This amount of profits in tax havens means these companies owe our government around $620 billion, and this amount is growing by about $90 billion each year now.)
The tax bonus is not shared evenly; it is rigged for the really big guys. "Out of the millions of businesses in the U.S., just 50 corporations hold 75 percent of the $2.1 trillion in untaxed offshore profits. And even in that rarefied air, there's a Tax Dodger Hall of Fame. Just 10 American companies hold more than a third of all those offshore profits," Warren said.
This rigs the game against families and smaller businesses that have to pick up the slack. Families and small U.S. companies pay 17.5 percent. The biggest corporations pay less, even zero.
"They get all the benefits but leave it to families and small businesses to pick up the tax bill," Warren said.
How To Fix Taxes
Warren laid out three principles for tax reform that benefits middle-class families and small businesses, not just wealthy multinational corporation:
1) Increase the share of revenue that corporations pay. The tax code now is so tilted toward the big corporations that any "revenue neutral" plan leaves the country with too little money to fund basic services.
2) Level the playing field between small and big businesses. The business tax code is rigged against small businesses, making it harder for them to compete.
3) Promote investment and jobs in the U.S. Lower tax rates and loopholes for hiding profits overseas encourages more outsourcing of jobs and investment. "Our tax code should protect jobs and investment here at home, period," Warren said.
Instead Congress Is Considering Giving Tax-Dodging Corporations "A Big Wet Kiss"
But instead of changing the tax code to benefit families and smaller businesses, Congress is acting under the influence of CEOs and corporate lobbyists.
"Congress talks to CEOs and their armies of lawyers and lobbyists who are pushing some genuinely terrible ideas," Warren explained. She went on to detail three tax proposals that are getting the most attention:
First, "deemed repatriation." Warren called this "a giant wet kiss for the tax dodgers who have already parked $2.1 trillion overseas. Deemed repatriation says bring home the money, but pay only half of what you owe on it. Or, if the kiss isn't wet enough, some are suggesting the repayment rate should be even less than half, maybe around 14 percent.
"Think about what this means. All the small business owners who have been paying their taxes in full can keep right on paying in full. But the tax dodgers will get a special deal.
"And what's the total price tag for this juicy smooch? Estimates are in the range of $300 to $400 billion paid by U.S. taxpayers."
The second idea in front of Congress is to have a lower offshore tax rate. Maybe 35 percent here, 19 percent there.
"It's like holding up a giant sign that says 'Higher taxes if you invest in the U.S., lower taxes if you invest abroad.' The result would be that every small business and family in America would be subsidizing foreign investments of multinational corporations -- which is a great deal for those multinationals and our foreign competitors, but a terrible deal for us."
The third idea is something corporate tax lobbyists are calling an "innovation box." Companies that say they are "innovating" can pay a lower tax rate. "For big pharmaceutical companies and giant tech companies, a provision like this just makes paying taxes -- or a chunk of taxes -- optional. I strongly support a robust innovation policy - like investing in the NSF (National Science Foundation) and the NIH (National Institutes of Health), funding basic research, and encouraging companies to invest in research -- but the innovation box doesn't do a single thing to encourage new innovation."
The Same Rigged Game
Warren warned that lobbyists are excited about the coming tax reform. "But when I look at the details, I see the same rigged game - a game where Congress hands out billions in benefits to big, well-connected corporations, while people who really could use a break - the millions of middle-class families and small businesses that have been squeezed for decades - are left holding the bag."
And this is where Warren makes the big point:
"And that's what this tax battle is really about: Who does this country work for? Is it just for the rich and the powerful, those who can hire those armies of lobbyists and lawyers? Or can we make this country work for millions of hard-working people?
"This isn't a fair fight. The corporate giants are lined up to make sure tax changes tilt their way. America's working families don't have a zillion-dollar PR team to counter the false claim that corporate taxes are too high. Small businesses don't have a zillion-dollar lobbying organization to fight back against tax giveaways for giant corporations."
Warren ends by saying she hopes people will pay close attention.
Also, in the Q&A Warren gives the best outline of what has led to the rigged game and the terrible inequality we have today. It is a must-watch.
Americans for Tax Fairness has produced a booklet of 16 charts and data tables that use publicly available data to disprove some of the claims made in support of the arguments for these huge corporate tax breaks.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been completed. The agreement is a big deal. It is said it writes the rules for doing business in the 21st century and covers 40 percent of the world's economy. The agreement will determine whether the giant corporations will increase their domination or if regular...
Thursday's bad news: Third-quarter GDP lands with thud: just 1.5 percent growth. That is down from 3.9 percent growth the previous quarter. The economy appears to be slowing, partly because of the drag effect of our trade deficit and partly because of the drag on the economy...
Exxon and other fossil fuel companies may have committed a crime of enormous proportions, and more and more elected officials and others are demanding an investigation.
The charge is that Exxon scientists and management knew since the late 1970s that the company's product was helping cause our planet to...
With corporate-conservative calls for full or partial privatization of the United States Postal Service (USPS) escalating, groups are sounding the alarm about new nominees to the USPS Board of Governors.
The Senate is scheduled soon to consider the nominations of Mickey D. Barnett, James C. Miller III and two...
Should we run our country for the benefit of We the People, or so that a few people can profit off of We the People? This is a question that is rising to the surface in a battle between those who want the United States Postal Service (USPS) maintained and...