The recent shocking, shocking revelation that American businesses are sheltering their overseas profits far away from our second highest corporate tax rate in the world comes as a "surprise" to no one but those feigning surprise for political gain. Of course, they keep their profits away from our corrupted tax code and the sweaty outreached hands of both members of Congress and Washington tax lobbyists.
In some parts of the world the bribe to gain government favor is both a common and illegal transaction. Here in the United States, it is has been codified and made not only legal but the basis of a thriving business inside Washington's beltway. More than half of the two and half billion dollars spent annually on lobbying in Washington is spent in pursuit of "favors" in the income tax code. Hey, it's the cost of doing business in the USA.
With a wink and a nod "contributions" are made to political campaigns and even to hometown foundations and causes that members of Congress favor or in which they have an interest. Lucrative fees are paid to the richest and most powerful lobbyists in Washington, tax lobbyists, to broker sweetheart deals for businesses and individuals.
These lobbyists commonly come from Capitol Hill after staff or elected careers that provide them currency with and access to tax writing committees. The hallway outside the House Ways and Means Committee is even called, "Gucci Gulch" in deference to the shoes these lobbyists wear that cost more than most American's monthly house payment.
"Closing business loopholes" really means that some past favors are being rescinded and a new feeding frenzy of lobby activity for new favors is about to begin. It's all part of the corrupted tax code that makes members of Congress from both parties very powerful, lobbyists very wealthy and which does real damage to the American economy. Unfortunately, this is one activity that sees true bi-partisan cooperation among the power elite in Washington.
Closing loopholes also means that workers will continue to see wages and benefits depressed and that consumers are about to pay higher prices for goods and services--because that is how business pays business taxes. Teacher retirement funds and other investors can take cold comfort, as well, that returns will be lower or dividends trimmed, so that business can "pay its fair share".
Pitting Americans against each other to achieve "fairness" in the corrupted tax code has been raised to a fine art in Washington. Taken together with the lucrative industry that has grown up around the tax writing committees, it is little wonder that Washington so vehemently resists the FairTax. The fact that the corporate tax and all the current complicated and unevenly applied taxes on earnings could be replaced with a no-exception consumption tax simply does not compute to most in Congress.
Elimination of corporate taxes under the FairTax is predicted to bring, not just American business profits, but $10-15 trillion of investment back to our shores. That means very little to those who profit so mightily from the income tax system. Elimination of $300 billion a year in tax preparation costs as individual returns become history? Not worth it, according to most of Congress. How about making the cost of the federal government visible instead of hiding taxes through payroll withholding? Unthinkable to those who spend our dollars freely (and our children's future earnings) to win our votes today.
But outside Washington, the FairTax grassroots movement continues to grow. Advocates know all about the self-interested resistance that exists on Capitol Hill. They still come to rallies, they still form local chapters and they still sign petitions. Why? They still believe that American citizens have not only the right but the power to create public policy that actually benefits the public. Unthinkable.
Commentary by Ken Hoagland,
National Director of Americans for Fair Taxation,
This op ed piece is not necessarily the opinion of anyone on the Joplin Independent staff