Over the years, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D) has issued a lot of press releases made a lot of headlines railing on corporate tax loopholes and the "tax gap" - the gap between what taxes are owed and what taxes are paid. In fact, just last month, the Financial Times reported that Baucus held a hearing specifically to rail on tax loopholes that let companies hide their profits in Caribbean tax havens. "If American companies are setting up shop at the beach just to avoid their tax obligations, we can't keep our heads in the sand," Baucus thundered. This posture has allowed Baucus to sugarcoat his generally lobbyist-friendly agenda with something that seems populist.
Cut to this week's debate over the farm bill. Bloomberg News reports that House Democrats paid for part of the bill by closing tax loopholes so as to "make it harder for overseas companies to use Caribbean tax havens to avoid taxes on US profits." Sounds like something Baucus would pick up and champion when the bill comes through his committee, right? Wrong.
Here's CongressDaily from Thursday:
"When House Democrats last week put a tax provision affecting foreign-based firms into the farm bill without committee debate, Republicans rushed to condemn it as a tax increase on firms like Switzerland-based Nestle that bring jobs to the United States...It is one of several companies cited frequently by opponents of [the] language that would see no tax penalty under the change...The Senate is likely to turn a more skeptical eye to the offset. Finance Chairman Baucus said Wednesday that the provision will not be a part of the Senate farm bill. 'We're not going to do anything that is similar to what the House did,' Baucus told CongressDaily."
So, to sum up, Baucus was against precisely the kind of tax loopholes he is apparently now for - even in the face of evidence that all the Republican arguments against the Democrats' bill are actually substantively false.
I wonder...which particular lobbyists got to Baucus this time?
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