USA Today finally breaks the national media silence about the one-third of Fred Thompson's life that he spent as a high-paid corporate lobbyist in Washington, D.C. Thompson's campaign, which is being run by his fellow K Street lobbyists, responded by saying only that being a K Street lobbyist "is an honorable endeavor that goes back to the beginnings of this republic." I love this pathetic attempt to liken corporate lobbying right up there on the "honorable" scale with George Washington heroically crossing the Delaware. What's funny is that you could say a lot of things "go back to the beginning of this republic." Prostitution, as just one example, "goes back to the beginning of this republic." But that doesn't mean you want a prostitute - sexual or corporate - running the nation.
Not surprisingly, the National Association of Manufacturers has a post on its blog trumpeting Thompson's first major policy declaration: His decision to make enacting new corporate tax breaks the centerpiece of his campaign.
Here's what he declared on CNBC:
"We have, you know--if you include state taxes--the highest corporate tax rate in the world. That makes us less competitive. All those things have to be looked at. And all those--especially as far as the corporate tax rate is concerned, need to be clearly reduced."
The claim that America has "the highest corporate tax rate in the world," of course, is a lie handed to Thompson from corporate-backed front groups like the Cato Institute. Here's what I documented in Hostile Takeover:
"Groups like the Cato Institute and Americans for Tax Reform, which are funded by some of America's wealthiest corporations, have for years pushed to eliminate all corporate taxes. They claim 'the federal government takes 35 percent' of corporate income for taxes, that such a rate is the fourth highest in the industrialized world, and therefore oppresses U.S. companies and hurts the economy. Yes, it is true, the official corporate tax rate in America is 35 percent. It is also true, however, that because of lax enforcement, loopholes and evasion, most corporations never come close to paying that rate. As the Government Accountability Office reported in 2004, 94 percent of corporations pay less than 5 percent of their income in taxes, and corporate tax payments are at their second lowest level in 60 years - lower than in every other industrialized country other than Iceland."
But then, why should we expect a lifelong corporate lobbyist like Thompson to push anything other than more corporate tax breaks? That's what he's been getting paid a nice fat paycheck to do most of his life. And no record-setting deficit or lack of funds for protective equipment for our soldiers in harm's way is going to stop him from pushing to get his corporate cronies as many giveaways as possible.