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John McCain's Tax Lie

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Forgive me for getting a little Rahm Emanuel here, but Sunday's lead story on The Huffington Post is worthy of a middle finger salute and some righteous indignation.

"McCain Slams Stimulus -- Joins GOP Leaders to Attack Stimulus Package". Well, okay. I'm all for healthy debate, even if it is with a party that turned itself inside-out during the last decade to become the unaccountable, freedom-snatching, bloat-ridden, free-spending, debt-driven, war-mongering party it is now. It would be unfair to hold every Republican responsible for the failure of the Bush administration even if, like McCain, their Senate votes supported Bush 90% of the time.

Putting aside the fact that the majority of Americans voted against furthering the Republican agenda, elected representatives from the Republican party still represent millions of Americans. Their voices need to be heard, and their ideas deserve serious consideration.

However, when an idea is not just flawed, but based on a pervasive lie, it needs to be called out until facts overcome propaganda and truth rings from the rafters. In McCain's case, the lie is that businesses are overwhelmed by taxes, and that a business tax cut is necessary to stimulate the economy.

"We need to make tax cuts permanent, and we need to make a commitment that there'll be no new taxes," Mr. McCain said. "We need to cut payroll taxes. We need to cut business taxes."

While McCain was hawking lower business taxes during his run for President, many of us had already learned the ugly truth. I wrote a post about it in October 2008.

In a stunning report released by the United States Government Accountability Office in July 2008, Americans learned that many corporations, including those with assets over $250M, reported no tax liabilities. In fact, from 1998-2005, 72% of foreign-controlled domestic corporations (FCDC's), and 55% of US-controlled corporations (USCC's), reported zero tax liability for at least one of those years. In total, two-thirds of the corporations doing business in the U.S. paid no taxes from 1998-2005, while collectively reporting $2.5 trillion dollars in sales.

In that article, I pointed out that the cuts McCain wanted were something of a manufactured myth, not just because so many corporations paid no taxes at all, but because the majority of those who did pay, paid nowhere near the 35% McCain claimed.

McCain and other Republicans continue pushing the mirage of high corporate taxes despite the nuts and bolts of facts as presented by the government's own accounting office. At a time when they should be demanding an end to the loopholes and special breaks that allowed so many corporations to exist tax-free, they are instead pushing for more corporate tax breaks.

One has to wonder what America's bottom-line might look like if all the corporations in question paid taxes at even 10% during the last decade. My guess is that it might have been enough to fund the $700B+ business bailout that the Senate voted for, despite the the fact that the majority of Americans disapproved. We're tired of paying the price for corporate negligence and greed, a point that is driven home every time we hear about multi-million dollar bonuses, million dollar office makeovers, or lavish parties.

There are small businesses -- those without teams of attorneys and accountants at their disposal -- that might benefit from tax breaks and other incentives. If the corporations that paid no taxes at all paid their share, we might be able to give relief to those small businesses that are struggling due to the economy, and not due to their own bad business practices.

With our country in crisis, this is not the time for smokescreens, mirages, and propaganda. It is time to face the truth, hold businesses and people accountable, and give relief where it is needed -- and not just where it's politically expedient or advantageous to do so.

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