07/16/2014 10:43 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Walgreens and Inversion, Where the Tea Party and Liberals Unite

Kevork Djansezian via Getty Images

"Look what's happening out in the streets
Got a revolution
Got to revolution"
-Jefferson Airplane

Like many revolutions, it started with a simple step.

I wrote a column on Sunday suggesting that Americans boycott the corporate giant Walgreens for looking at the possibility of buying a small company in Switzerland, reincorporating in Switzerland and paying a much lower tax rate because of it.

It's a concept called "inversion" and a huge tax break for big corporations. Walgreens is a perfect example for why Americans have reached the point of outrage. Unlike the other large corporations that have already implemented the idea, Walgreens is a well-known company with stores in cities across the United States. Even more important, it takes in about $16 billion dollars in Medicare and Medicaid money. That amount is only going to go up as the ACA moves forward and more people enter the health care system.

Walgreens has been a profitable company. They ought to remain so, but the taxes on those profits should stay in the United States and not be shipped off to Switzerland.


Other than a piece by Andrew Ross Sorkin in the New York Times, the story has largely gone unnoticed, but an underground revolution is catching on. My column ran late Sunday night for a short while on the front page of The Huffington Post and for a longer while the next day on the front section of the business page.

Even though it is dropped off the front page, the story is being shared on social media at an exponential rate. Nothing else is driving it but the anger of people on both sides of the political aisle about a tax loophole that is unfair to all Americans. At last look, it had 2,800 Facebook "likes" and was increasing by the minute.

The bipartisan anger is best noted in a radio interview I did this morning with conservative talk show host Leland Conway. Although I've been on Leland's show several times, we rarely agree on anything. In fact, we did a mini version of Crossfire for a local television station where I took the liberal position and he took the conservative.

Both Leland and I agree that the American tax system is unfair and that the Walgreens deal, and inversions in general, is the most blatant example of its unfairness. Leland and I differ in our solutions, but both agree on the primary point: The battle is not Republican versus Democrat. It is Wall Street versus Main Street, with Washington coming "all in" for Wall Street.

This could be the moment where the same liberals who, like me, would like to see Elizabeth Warren as president can unite with those Tea Party conservatives who want Rand Paul as their next president.


As I noted in my 2010 book, Wealth Without Wall Street, it's not about liberal versus conservative or Republican versus Democrat; it's about fairness. The American people know the tax system is unfair and want something done about it.

The ideal way to implement change is to wait for Congress to change the laws. The most efficient way for an American citizen to make their anger felt is by boycotting Walgreens.

Like the boycott of the bus system that Martin Luther King organized in Montgomery, Alabama, many years ago, a boycott brings the outage from the back halls of Congress and on the front burner of the media.

The people in Montgomery put their lives and safety on the line, but the result was monumental change. Finding another place to buy your medicine is not in the same league of commitment, but the idea is the same. The American people need to be heard and a wrong needs to be righted.

The idea of special tax breaks for big corporations is wrong. The idea that an American company who gets a big chunk of their revenue from Medicaid and Medicare is moving to another country is even worse.

People in all parties from all points of view agree.

Boycotting Walgreens is one time when Main Street can be heard in Washington.

Don McNay is the founder of McNay Consulting, a former syndicated columnist and a best selling author. You can download a Kindle copy of his book, Wealth Without Wall Street today for free on Amazon.