By Lauren | January 10, 2013
In a display of unwarranted optimism, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced last week that further tax increases are off the table in ongoing discussions between Congress and the President to address the nation’s finances. Apparently Senator McConnell is willing to talk about spending cuts, entitlement reforms, changes to the nation’s debt ceiling, but not tax increases. For all we know, trillion dollar coins minted specifically to pay off the national debt – one of the silliest ideas I’ve encountered in a while – may be up for negotiation, but tax increases are taboo.
It seems to me that, for all our talk about tax rates paid by the wealthiest 2% of individuals, we’re missing the mastodon in the room if we don’t at least mention the tax rates paid by American corporations. Our tax code is so full of corporate-friendly loopholes that major corporations like General Electric and Citibank not only pay embarrassingly low tax rates, some of them get tax rebates even as they shift their operations overseas. The United States is losing billions in possible revenues and a whole lot of jobs, and corporate investors are chuckling all the way to the bank.
It sometimes seems like reporters can only focus on one think at a time, which is probably why we’ve heard a whole lot about the lifestyle of the top 2% and so little about corporate tax rates. Before the financial battles in Washington come to a close, however, I hope someone will take a serious look at how little corporations are paying right now. We’ve heard from the Supreme Court that corporations enjoy the same First Amendment rights in this country as real people do. With those rights should come a responsibility to contribute their fair share to the common good.