At the White House last night, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va) balked at President Barack Obama’s plans on debt talks. President Obama wants to include new revenues--likely through closing corporate tax loopholes and letting the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans expire--and Cantor says any sort of taxes are off the table.
It shouldn’t be any surprise that members of Congress are wary of closing tax loopholes because many of these benefit some of their top campaign donors. Rep. Cantor is no exception. The question is whether Cantor will risk default, sending our economy into a tailspin, to protect these donors.
Public Campaign Action Fund research of data from the Center for Responsive Politics shows that in the 2010 election cycle, Cantor received at least $254,000 from the political action committees (PACs) of ten of the country’s most egregious tax-dodging corporations. Through the first six months of 2011, Cantor received at least $32,400 from the PACs of these tax dodgers. Roughly 65 percent of these contributions are from Wall Street banks.
Cantor received $103,150 in Goldman Sachs-related contributions in the 2010 cycle. Goldman Sachs, according to a report from Public Campaign earlier this year, made $2.3 billion in profits in 2008 and paid just 1.1% of its income in taxes. Goldman Sachs, of course, received $800 billion in loans from the U.S. government to weather the financial crisis.
Cantor also received $26,000 from Citigroup donors in 2010. The bank took $45 billion in bailout funds, made a $4 billion profit in 2010, and actually got a tax refund of $1.9 billion last year.
Executives from Boeing, currently fighting a lawsuit that it retaliated against a union by moving its plant to another state, provided $21,565 in campaign cash to Cantor in the 2010 cycle. Boeing has received billions in government contracts, made $124 million in profits in 2010, but paid nothing in taxes.
The list goes on--but you get the point. When members of Congress say they aren’t going to close corporate tax loopholes or, like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), call requiring millionaires to pay their fair share “pathetic,” they are talking about their big campaign donors.
It’s not just Cantor or Sessions, of course. Members of Congress serve two bosses, their constituents and their big campaign donors. Restoring tax rates on millionaires and closing corporate tax loopholes are wildly popular, except among those who have to call millionaires and corporate CEOs and ask them for campaign donations.