But the Market Demands It!

I got nothing:

Last week, the New York Times reported that, despite making $14.2 billion in profits, General Electric, the largest corporation in the United States, paid zero U.S. taxes in 2010 and actually received tax credits of $3.2 billion dollars. The article noted that GE’s tax avoidance team is comprised of “former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress.”

After not paying any taxes and making huge profits, ThinkProgress has learned that General Electric is expected to ask its nearly 15,000 unionized employees in the United States to make major concessions.

This year, 14 unions representing more than 15,000 workers will negotiate a new master contract with General Electric. Among the major concessions GE has signaled that it will ask of union workers is the elimination of a defined contribution benefit pension for new employees, a move the company has already implemented for its non-union salaried employees. Likewise, GE is signaling to the union that it will ask for the elimination of current health insurance plans in favor of lower quality health saving accounts, a move the company has already implemented for non-union salaried employees as well.

In addition, General Electric may ask some workers for a wage freeze. Since the recession began in 2007, GE threatened to close plants in Schenectady, NY and Louisville, KY unless workers took wage concessions and adopted two-tier wage structure.

$14 billion in profits, $3 billion in tax credits, and instead of celebrating, they are instead trying to screw their workers. And it goes without saying that GE’s Immelt is in charge of “competitiveness” for the Obama administration.

Surely someone knows where the Reason video explaining all this is, so I too can understand this.






101 replies
  1. 1
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    This wins the week’s Claude Rains Memorial Gambling Awareness Award on sooooooo many levels.

  2. 2
    James Hare says:

    GE doesn’t count because their subsidies aren’t gained through principled donations to a single political party. They’re more than happy to donate to both.

  3. 3
    Lolis says:

    But Republicans say our economy will be fixed if we just lower corporate tax rates.

  4. 4
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    I’m still amazed that people think health savings accounts, on their own, will enable people to afford health insurance. If I’m an overpaid, lazy WI teacher making 51K a year, how long will it take for me to “save” for that gall bladder surgery I need? Or to repair my spleen from that pesky unforseen auto accident?

    Or is GE simply offering up a shitty HMO plan and expect folks to put away 5K a year in the hopes that in 20 years, they can afford surgery.

    HSAs are a nice adjunct to decent health insurance, not a substitute for it. No wonder our Galtian Overlords like it.

  5. 5
    Linnaeus says:

    Among the major concessions GE has signaled that it will ask of union workers is the elimination of a defined contribution benefit pension for new employees, a move the company has already implemented for its non-union salaried employees.

    This is interesting, in light of the fact that we’ve heard for so long that defined contribution plans were the way to go because defined benefit plans were too expensive. Now, even defined contribution plans have to go. Can’t say I’m surprised.

  6. 6
    Corner Stone says:

    And it goes without saying that GE’s Immelt is in charge of “competitiveness” for the Obama administration.

    No, it does not go without saying.

  7. 7
    Brachiator says:

    The current edition of 60 Minutes has a great piece on corporate tax havens. Essentially, some companies are saying that even if they pay no tax, the existence of high corporate tax rates keeps them from plowing profits back into the US and hiring more workers.

    Corporate spin doctors are masters at their craft. High tax rates are bad whether or not a corporation actually ever pays taxes. This definitely puts the “trick” in trickle down.

  8. 8
    FlipYrWhig says:

    GE’s Immelt is in charge of “competitiveness” for the Obama administration.

    I think that’s massively overselling his role. He’s on a blue-ribbon panel. Here’s the list of members. That council includes some labor people and academics too. Does it make policy? Does it do anything? He shouldn’t be anywhere near the levers of power, no, but it’s an overstatement to say that he’s “in charge” of anything. You keep doing this. Stop.

  9. 9
    ExGEdrone says:

    I look at GE now much like I look at Walmart…

    Walmart initially was a company that tried to make things less expensive. They put together and I.T. infrastructure that was beyond any other company, cut costs, and were able to deliver products at a cheaper price than their competitors. Combine that with their “Made in America” slogan, and everybody was happy. Then Sam Walton died. Walmart became “make it cheaper – even if it means polluting overseas”, “cut costs by screwing the employees”, and “let’s keep using ‘Made in America’ even though 80% of our crap is made overseas!”.

    GE under Jack Welch became “we have to streamline if we are to survive”, and streamline he did. He instituted program after program to cut out unnecessary work and lower employment levels. Of course, then he started shipping work overseas, screwing employees, etc. Now Immelt is going twelve steps beyond Welch.

    Screw’em. I don’t care if I did work for them for 10 years – no more GE for me.

  10. 10
    gex says:

    And no one should forget that GE gets gubmint money all over the place. First as a defense contractor, but also during the meltdown as a financial institution.

  11. 11
    MikeJ says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Why let facts get in the way of a good story?

  12. 12
    gex says:

    And needless to say this goes nicely hand in hand with the article on the rise of unpaid jobs available to the unemployed.

    ETA: These fuckers make the Guilded Age seem generous. I doubt today’s capitalists would house, clothe, and feed you like they did in the company towns. They’ll just make you work for no pay and tell you it’s your own damn lazy fault you have nothing.

  13. 13

    This deal sure does stink.

  14. 14
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @gex: Right. Let’s talk about the many levels of bullshit GE perpetuates and gets away with, including from the Obama administration, without hyping it up with phrases like “in charge.”

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Look, putting Simpson and Bowles on a commission ended Social Security back in December, so I am pretty sure that, if we want to have jobs in the future, we should panic about this right now.

  16. 16
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @MikeJ: I heard Jeffrey Immelt took Bradley Manning’s underpants.

  17. 17
    KG says:

    It’s really simple…

    What is good for GE is good for America.

    And what’s good for GE is huge profits, negative tax liabilities, low costs, and huge dividends to its shareholders.

    ETA: and low capital gains tax rates on its shareholder dividends.

  18. 18
    gex says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Don’t drag me into this…

  19. 19
    James Hare says:

    I, for one, welcome our new corporate overlords. They’ll need help finding those of us who aren’t loyal and folks with technical expertise will be important!

  20. 20
    The Dangerman says:

    …instead of celebrating, they are instead trying to screw their workers.

    Because they can; the essence of capitalism is to not pay one cent more than you have to for any factor of production (other than capital, of course). If the economy is shitty or transfer costs are high for workers, the time is ripe to fuck ’em over. Also, since the corporations DO overpay for capital, they must also fight for capital gains tax relief.

    Motherfuckers.

  21. 21
    New Yorker says:

    @Lolis:

    But Republicans say our economy will be fixed if we just lower corporate tax rates.

    It funny that the mention Schenectady, NY in the above article because wingnuts in New York have been repeating ad nauseum for years that nobody wants to do business in New York because the taxes are too high.

    So I guess taxes being too high are why GE is squeezing people in Schenectady.

    Wingnuttery can never fail. It can only be failed.

  22. 22
    OzoneR says:

    @gex:

    They’ll just make you work for no pay and tell you it’s your own damn lazy fault you have nothing.

    and half the country will agree

  23. 23
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Commissions are usually the way important things get done in Washington. Councils, too. Trailblazing institutions, every last one of them. For example, Valerie Jarrett is in charge of “girls” for the Obama administration, and Patty Stonesifer is in charge of “community” for the Obama administration.

    ETA: You know who’s on that “community” council? Jon Bon Jovi. The rot runs deep!

  24. 24
    JGabriel says:

    John Cole @ Top:

    $14 billion in profits, $3 billion in tax credits, and instead of celebrating, they are instead trying to screw their workers.

    That is how capitalists celebrate, John — by screwing their workers.

    And then they wonder why workers laugh hollowly at promises from companies to share the wealth when they make more profits.

    .

  25. 25
    GregB says:

    Just a little more boot pressure on the collective necks of American workers and they should have wages for everything but media pundits and Wall Streeters down to about $8.00 without any benefits.

    Then it will be a big win for Capitalism.

  26. 26

    Going back to the original NY Times piece THIS is what really sticks out:

    “In a rational system, a corporation’s tax department would be there to make sure a company complied with the law,” said Len Burman, a former Treasury official who now is a scholar at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. “But in our system, there are corporations that view their tax departments as a profit center, and the effects on public policy can be negative.”

    The shelters are so crucial to G.E.’s bottom line that when Congress threatened to let the most lucrative one expire in 2008, the company came out in full force. G.E. officials worked with dozens of financial companies to send letters to Congress and hired a bevy of outside lobbyists.

    The head of its tax team, Mr. Samuels, met with Representative Charles B. Rangel, then chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which would decide the fate of the tax break. As he sat with the committee’s staff members outside Mr. Rangel’s office, Mr. Samuels dropped to his knee and pretended to beg for the provision to be extended — a flourish made in jest, he said through a spokeswoman.

    That day, Mr. Rangel reversed his opposition to the tax break, according to other Democrats on the committee.

    The following month, Mr. Rangel and Mr. Immelt stood together at St. Nicholas Park in Harlem as G.E. announced that its foundation had awarded $30 million to New York City schools, including $11 million to benefit various schools in Mr. Rangel’s district. Joel I. Klein, then the schools chancellor, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who presided, said it was the largest gift ever to the city’s schools.

    G.E. officials say the donation was granted solely on the merit of the project. “The foundation goes to great lengths to ensure grant decisions are not influenced by company government relations or lobbying priorities,” Ms. Eisele said.

    Mr. Rangel, who was censured by Congress last year for soliciting donations from corporations and executives with business before his committee, said this month that the donation was unrelated to his official actions.

    Rangel was one of the so-called “good guys”.

  27. 27
    Mr. Long Form says:

    I, for one, welcome our new corporate overlords.

    New?

  28. 28

    How can this be, when the United States has the Highest Corporate Tax Rate in the World?

  29. 29
    kdaug says:

    @Corner Stone:

    No, it does not go without saying.

    I’m there. Don’t quit saying it, don’t quit pushing it. It’s an intertrons world. Move the meme.

  30. 30
    JGabriel says:

    @gex:

    And no one should forget that GE gets gubmint money all over the place. First as a defense contractor, but also during the meltdown as a financial institution.

    I think we need a law that says if a company with gov’t contracts pays no taxes in a given year, then it will not be eligible for gov’t contracts for 5 years following.

    .

  31. 31
    PurpleGirl says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage: LOL. Brilliant, just brilliant.

  32. 32
    BombIranForChrist says:

    Now, now, you are all being very unserious.

    Let’s all sit back in our chairs and make a little “I am thinking” steeple with our hands.

    Got it? Good. Now let’s focus on the real problem here. How we can get even more money into GE’s hands.

    Eat your spinach, DFH’s!

  33. 33
    Mark S. says:

    I eagerly await more lectures from our pundits about shared sacrifice.

  34. 34
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @kdaug: Yes, please. Everyone benefits from polemical overstatement! How about “Jeffrey Immelt is in charge of death panels!”

  35. 35
    cleek says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    he’s the chair of that panel, not just a “member”.

  36. 36
    Morbo says:

    Don’t suppose you saw 60 Minutes last night? Indeed many of them threaten to pick up their ball and -go home- move to Switzerland. I am unconvinced by their arguments.

  37. 37
    PurpleGirl says:

    @FlipYrWhig: For me it’s the PR value. Immelt doesn’t care about American workers. I don’t believe he’s going to help workers in any way and he won’t help this study group come with ideas that aren’t part of a race to third world status for US workers.

  38. 38
    Guster says:

    @FlipYrWhig: He’s not just on the panel. In 2009, Immelt was appointed as a member to the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, but then:

    On January 21, 2011, President Obama announced Immelt’s appointment as chairman of his outside panel of economic advisers, succeeding former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker. Immelt will retain his post at G.E. while becoming “chairman of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, a newly named panel that President Obama is creating by executive order.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01.....2&hpw

  39. 39
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @cleek: True, but there are a lot of “White House Council on” panels, and most of them are not treated as being “in charge of” their area “for the administration.” I have no love for Jeffrey Immelt or GE, but it’s skewing the truth to say that he is “in charge of” anything. Let the criticism be that a cheating, thieving bastard shouldn’t be being honored or listened to at all by the Obama administration, not even ceremonially. That would be a real criticism with some bite. And it wouldn’t stretch the truth.

  40. 40

    NOTHING TO SELL!

    I HAVE NOTHING TO SELL!

  41. 41
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Guster: Right, but he’s the chair of a panel, he’s not running policy. He has too much influence. There’s already a strong case for that. He’s not “in charge.”

  42. 42
    Gus says:

    @cleek: Stop it you firebagger!

  43. 43
    gex says:

    @joe from Lowell: Let’s make a deal with them. We’ll drop the corporate rate by 10% and close all loopholes. Should be a heckuva deal for them, right?

  44. 44
    jpe says:

    @Brachiator: That’s not a crazy argument. The taxable event for US tax is bringing the income back into the states (when it’s “repatriated”). So a company will defer that event as long as possible if the income is currently in a low-tax jurisdiction.

  45. 45
    taylormattd says:

    The battle is lost. I have allegedly “liberal” friends who bitch and moan about “unions”, “union benefits”, etc, etc.

    Honestly, this will NEVER change with the current state of the media. Everybody is fucking brainwashed, and it will never change with the non-stop harping about the evils of government, unions, and moderate public benefits.

  46. 46
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    For me it’s the PR value. Immelt doesn’t care about American workers. I don’t believe he’s going to help workers in any way and he won’t help this study group come with ideas that aren’t part of a race to third world status for US workers.

    Agreed on all counts. And that didn’t require anyone to pretend like he was the chief of staff or something.

  47. 47
    Wisdom says:

    You people want your cake and eat it too. You want all these greenie subsidies for new trains to nowhere and bird-killing wind “farms” and then whine like cry babies when GE takes advantage of it.

  48. 48
    Guster says:

    @FlipYrWhig: He’s in charge of “competitiveness,” scare quotes and all.

    I don’t think that’s a big stretch, though maybe “in charge” of “competitiveness” would be better?

  49. 49
    Earl Butz says:

    I’d sure like it if we could have a return to the good ol’ days of slavery, where at least I wouldn’t have to worry about having a roof over my head, or wonder where my next meal is coming from.

  50. 50
    FlipYrWhig says:

    “I don’t want this loathsome figure advising the president on anything, and he doesn’t belong on any White House council, much less chairing one. He’s repellent and so is his company.”

  51. 51
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Let the criticism be that a cheating, thieving bastard shouldn’t be being honored or listened to at all by the Obama administration, not even ceremonially. That would be a real criticism with some bite. And it wouldn’t stretch the truth.

    That is what the criticism is about.

  52. 52
    Gus says:

    @Wisdom: Where are all those new trains, anyway?

  53. 53
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Morbo:
    I wonder why the pols are so solicitous to those corps which dodge taxes, fuck over their employees, and generally treat America the way Taggart treated Rock Ridge. Fuck ’em. If they want to leave then good riddance; I still have enough hopeless optimism to believe that Americans are resourceful enough to come up with other, better, things to take their places.

    That goes double for the financial sector; if they want to move to London, or Dubai, or West Bumfuckistan I’ll even help them pack.

  54. 54
    Earl Butz says:

    goddamn

  55. 55
    Bob Loblaw says:

    GE is simply winning the future, my good chum.

    The model corporate citizen of the twenty first century. Imagination at work.

  56. 56
    Guster says:

    @Wisdom: But we laugh when the birds die. Fucking birds, flying around. We hate them for their freedom.

  57. 57
    Earl Butz says:

    one moar

  58. 58
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Guster: He’s not in charge of anything except an advisory council. You can say he doesn’t belong there, because it’s bad PR and who needs his fucking advice, he’s a thief. And you would be right. But like I said earlier, Valerie Jarrett (apparently) is chair of the Council on Women and Girls, and no one seems to think that she’s “in charge of” women and girls. She’s in charge of the panel in some sense or she wouldn’t be the chair.

    Look, I know I’m being nitpicky, but this is being deliberately imprecise to take a lazier shot, which is particularly aggravating because being _precise_ would allow you to take _almost the same shot_. This is the kind of thing John Aravosis does habitually.

  59. 59
    jcricket says:

    Look, surely GE’s profits rise exponentially with every concession the worker bees make. If the workers agreed to work for what they really deserve (which is nothing, since they’re not “capital”) then GE would have infinite profits.

    Well, infinite profits minus the pound of flesh the jackbooted thugs from the EPA rob from the baby Jesus (aka GE’s pollution-spewing factories).

    But still. Workers should start learning to say “yes sir, may I have another” – it’s the American way.

  60. 60
    jcricket says:

    @Morbo: Go ahead. Switzerland, with its universal healthcare, generous gov’t pensions and massive subsidies for transit (especially trains). I’m sure it’s a Libertarian paradise.

    Fucking fuckers.

  61. 61
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone: You can make that criticism without the lazy, sloppy suggestion that being the chair of a council is the same thing as being “in charge of” what that council is about “for the administration.” Doing it that way is just a Beckian “czar” argument.

  62. 62
    cleek says:

    @Wisdom:
    sadly, deductions and credits for renewable energy don’t account for all of GE’s favorable tax situation. a lot of what it gets is from acting as a money lender. and then two years ago, we bailed that money lender out, with taxpayer dollars. $139,000,000,000 worth of bailout, to be exact.

  63. 63
    Guster says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Okay, okay. You’re probably right. (You’re definitely right that you’re being nitpicky!) I guess I just think that a little linguistic imprecision is not only permissible, but oftentimes effective.

    We can either say “this crapsack thief is on the White House advisory council, wtf?” Or we can say, “this crapsack thief is in charge of ‘competitiveness.'” The former is true while the latter is merely defensible (I think), but frankly the latter is stronger. Nobody cares if the government recommends optional consultations about end-of-life issues. But ‘death panels’ moves policy. And this isn’t even in the same state as the same ballpark as that.

  64. 64
    Fuck U6: A More Accurate Measure of the Total Amount of Duck-Fuckery in the Economy says:

    Fucking snark, how does it work?

  65. 65
    Vibrant Pantload, fka Studly Pantload says:

    I think we all need to pay heed to “Wisdom” – with an anonymous screen handle like that, you just know s/he speaks the truth.

  66. 66
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @cleek: When corporations spun off these capital firms, that was seriously skeevy. I’m pretty sure I remember reading that during the boom times Honda was making more money on the financing side of their operation than they were on manufacturing vehicles. That just ain’t right.

  67. 67
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    You can make that criticism without the lazy, sloppy suggestion that being the chair of a council is the same thing as being “in charge of” what that council is about “for the administration.” Doing it that way is just a Beckian “czar” argument.

    No, it is not. Stating clearly that he is the Chairman is accurate as that is his actual title and further, informs people he has value to the administration.
    Frank Sinatra was Chairman of The Board, also too. I wonder why he was called “Chairman” if he actually wasn’t in charge of anything?
    Probably because it served a purpose to do so.
    Just like appointing Immelt to be the Chairman of the “Jobs and Competitiveness Council” sends its own signal.
    You’re not being nitpicky, you’re just being missed by the point.

  68. 68
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Guster: How about, “Who thought it would be a good idea to make the CEO of a notorious tax cheat the chair of a council on ‘jobs’ and ‘competitiveness’? That’s like making Charlie Sheen chair of the council on drug policy and low self-esteeem.”

    IMHO “in charge of” suggests way more active involvement than the guy actually has.

    And any active involvement is too much.

  69. 69
    Martin says:

    Well, a legitimate problem right now is that corporate profits aren’t flowing back to the US. We can talk about the reasons and the problems with the tax credits (and they are indeed serious problems) but corporations that have taken foreign profits can’t spend that money unless they repatriate it – and they’re not going to do that if they need to pay 35% on it. Sure, GE got all of those tax credits, and those are supposed to offset the cost of repatriating that money, but GE won’t see it that way – they got the credits no matter what.

    It’s estimated there’s between 1T and 1.5T in profits by US corporations sitting offshore, which sounds about right to me. That’s a 1T to 1.5T stimulus plan right there, but we need to find a way past this problem. Multinationals will only spend as much in the US as the need to, and if there’s up to a 35% tax (it’s really just the difference between the foreign rate and the US rate) on doing it, then they’ll avoid it to the greatest extent possible.

    And that’s probably why GE is putting the squeeze on the US workers – they don’t want to repatriate the money to balance their US books. The recession has had this compounding effect that as domestic sales fell off a cliff, the profits wound up outside of the US and many companies US operations, that had been profitable stopped being so. So in order to justify continuing those US operations, they need to further justify paying the cost of repatriating the money. It’s complicated, but the corporations are simply going along with the incentives that the US tax code has provided. Change those incentives, and you’ll change their behavior.

    In a lot of ways, the Democrats and Republicans are talking past either other. The more responsible Republicans are saying that the top marginal rate is too high because the effective rate is much lower – that we should reduce the cost of bringing those last profits back to the US, where a lot of Democrats are saying that marginal rates shouldn’t go down, while ignoring what’s happening with the effective rate and repatriation of profits. And I would say that in that narrow context the Republicans are right – there are a lot of stupid arguments being offered on the left. But on the other side of things, Democrats are screaming about political favors and excessive tax breaks and credits, which the GOP seems more than happy to ignore. And on that, there are a lot of stupid arguments being offered on the right.

    Somehow we need to get past all of this and get this tax code ironed out so it reflect the fact that US corporations do a lot of their sales overseas. It’s not 1975 any longer. And it’s not just the feds that are being hurt. Cali’s largest corporations have in excess of $100B sitting overseas. Even a few percent tax on that money that would be repatriated would go a long way to balancing the state budget.

  70. 70
    joes527 says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Evidently, in DC, if you aren’t at least a Czar, you are just spinning your wheels in some so-shu-lust make work program.

    I’d note the irony … if irony weren’t dead.

  71. 71
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Just like appointing Immelt to be the Chairman of the “Jobs and Competitiveness Council” sends its own signal.

    Correct.

    It does not, however, give him the role of setting policy, which is what “in charge of” means. Because he’s the chair, you could say he’s “in charge of” _the panel_. He’s not in charge of “competitiveness,” he’s in charge of the council on competitiveness. Just say that.

  72. 72
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Stating clearly that he is the Chairman is accurate as that is his actual title and further, informs people he has value to the administration.

    Agreed. Only here’s what John wrote:

    it goes without saying that GE’s Immelt is in charge of “competitiveness” for the Obama administration.

    Fail.

    ETA:

    it goes without saying that GE’s Immelt chairs a council on “competitiveness” for the Obama administration.

    I never would have said a peep about that.

  73. 73
    Wisdom says:

    “Gus” – somewhere between Hope and Woodstock.

    “Cweek” – maybe you should have thought harder about that when voting. Somehow I do not think taxing bailouts is a profitable model for government, but I am sure you have some theory about that.

  74. 74
    joes527 says:

    @Martin:

    t’s estimated there’s between 1T and 1.5T in profits by US corporations sitting offshore, which sounds about right to me. That’s a 1T to 1.5T stimulus plan right there, but we need to find a way past this problem.

    We could pay the CEOs a bonus if they would accept a 0% tax rate. If we threw in a blowjob, some might accept.

    Of course we are going to need some serious “shared sacrifice” to pay for this solution. But that’s a feature, not a bug. Right?

  75. 75
    Guster says:

    @FlipYrWhig: That’s more honest and mature, but I’m not a huge fan of honest and mature. I’d prefer, “GE’s Immelt is in charge of ‘maximizing corporate profits at the expense of patriotic working Americans’ for the Obama administration” and “Obama’s executive order specifically tasked Immelt with finding ways to socialize risk and privatize profits.”

  76. 76
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Guster: Well, OK. I’m not in love with overstatement when neutral-statement provides plenty of potential firepower as it is. Same reason I’m lukewarm on Matt Taibbi.

  77. 77
    Judas Escargot (aka "your liberal-interventionist pal, who's fun to be with") says:

    @Martin:

    It’s estimated there’s between 1T and 1.5T in profits by US corporations sitting offshore, which sounds about right to me. That’s a 1T to 1.5T stimulus plan right there, but we need to find a way past this problem.

    Chomsky has pointed this out: A huge company like IBM can transfer literally billions of dollars across international borders at will, unhindered.

    He’s suggested some sort of transaction tax on those transfers, but that would be too anarcho-syndical for 90% of Americans, so the idea never got any traction.

    A transaction tax on Wall St. was an idea that was floating around a year or two ago (which would have the added benefit of curbing the rampant abuses of high-frequency traders), but that, too, is just another evil Commie idea.

  78. 78
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ Judas (hmm, reply linky no worky):

    That transaction tax was one of my favorite policy ideas the last time I heard about it. And it could be incredibly small percentage-wise and yield tons of money, and be defensible too because it’s the government that’s creating a climate wherein currency transfers can be safely conducted.

  79. 79
    Maude says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    And yet, big business hates Obama.
    The Tres. Sec. has proposed that the corporate tax be a flat rate in the upper 20%. He isn’t getting anywhere.
    Obama twice proposed the reversal of the offshore taxes before the Nov. elections. Repubs stuck their tongues out.

  80. 80
    blondie says:

    I have a couple of thousand dollars of GE shares – not because I had any foresight (or greed), but because I worked for GE almost 30 years ago and the company gave me two (2) shares that I did nothing with. Now they’ve grown to 100 shares, more or less, simply through stock splits and passive dividend reinvestment.

    So I read this and am furious, but trying to figure out what I should do: Sell them? Since I’m otherwise pretty middle-income tax bracket and don’t play a lot of games on taxes, I won’t realize enough to cover a mortgage payment.

    Keep them and go make a stink at the annual shareholders meeting? The thought petrifies me (though I suppose I could take some liquid courage with me …)

    Start a Facebook campaign with other disaffected shareholders? Is this something that would get much attention?

    Continue my current strategy of just forgetting about them? The easiest, but least soul-satisfying.

    Suggestions? Get creative, please – I could use some ideas.

  81. 81
    Judas Escargot (aka "your liberal-interventionist pal, who's fun to be with") says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    It wouldn’t even have to be a percentage: $0.02 per transaction, in today’s market, would do wonders to simultaneously raise revenue and reign in the HFT fraudsters somewhat.

    Kind of aside, but I love how Joe Citizen has to pay $2-5 to use an ATM, yet the smallest transaction charge on Wall-Streeters is evil soshalizm.

    One of hundreds of little factoids that show that America’s “Free Market” system is neither Free, nor even properly a Market.

  82. 82
    kdaug says:

    @Guster: Loves me some birds. Preferably with barbeque sauce.

  83. 83
    Martin says:

    @joes527: Well, I don’t think it’s a shared sacrifice solution. The problem is that we’re giving these corporations their rewards for paying foreign taxes rather than US taxes without first demanding that they repatriate their profits and pay the US taxes. So they take credits in countries with high taxation and camp all their money out in countries with low taxation. Why should we credit the one situation before demanding that they repatriate in the other situation?

  84. 84
    Judas Escargot (aka "your liberal-interventionist pal, who's fun to be with") says:

    @blondie:

    Suggestions? Get creative!

    The best way to hurt GE would be to short their stock, en masse, with enough volume that it affects the stock price itself. Unfortunately, only a Goldman Sachs has the ability to short a stock (for profit) at will in this manner.

    Even if you could get a few million of the ‘little people’ to coordinate their stock sales, we don’t have access to the same trading channels as the big boys: They can do hundreds of thousands of trades per second. You or I (generally) are stuck with whatever ‘waiting period’ our brokerage forces upon us.

    Again: Our ‘free market’ is neither free, nor a market.

  85. 85
    Maude says:

    @blondie:
    Hang onto the stock. You may be glad you did.
    Wait until you know what to do.

  86. 86
    Martin says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I’ve always been an advocate of the transaction tax, but it must be quite small. It’s sole purpose is to knock down the investment churn. It’d never be effective as a revenue generator against corporate profits.

  87. 87
    Martin says:

    @blondie:

    So I read this and am furious, but trying to figure out what I should do: Sell them? Since I’m otherwise pretty middle-income tax bracket and don’t play a lot of games on taxes, I won’t realize enough to cover a mortgage payment.

    Hold onto them. If the game is going to be rigged against you, don’t give up your few opportunities to go along for the ride. Selling your shares isn’t a protest against the company – they’ll never notice nor care. But as an investor, you do get a bit of a voice – so use it. It’s a privilege of owning part of GE.

  88. 88
    Brachiator says:

    @jpe:

    That’s not a crazy argument. The taxable event for US tax is bringing the income back into the states (when it’s “repatriated”). So a company will defer that event as long as possible if the income is currently in a low-tax jurisdiction.

    Yeah, it’s still a crazy argument, especially when a company has no rational connection to the lower tax country except a mailbox and maybe an office.

  89. 89
    blondie says:

    @Martin: (also to Maude and Judas) – thanks! Although I am thinking it’s wiser to consider it as a responsibility of owning part of GE, rather than a “privilege.”

  90. 90
    RSA says:

    After not paying any taxes and making huge profits, ThinkProgress has learned that General Electric is expected to ask its nearly 15,000 unionized employees in the United States to make major concessions.

    ThinkProgress is making huge profits? They should hire some copy editors.

  91. 91

    […] also hard to pull out of for Empires.   LikeBe the first to like this […]

  92. 92
    Cermet says:

    @FlipYrWhig: yes, making money hands over-fist charging a far smaller interest rate than the banks ever did or would do AND you got a better car that held its value longer – if only more corperations riped us off like that!

  93. 93
    Church Lady says:

    @Brachiator: I’d guess that, given the scope and bredth of GE’s worldwide holdings, they have a rational connection to wherever they park their money.

  94. 94
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Cermet: I used Honda Finance once and have few complaints about how I was actually served. But there’s something hinky about a manufacturing company getting into the banking business, as GE also did, among others. It’s a degree of mixing that strikes me as, well, not kosher.

    ETA: Maybe from a regulatory perspective? I’m not sure I’m using the lingo properly. The way Glass-Steagall had set up a distinction between kinds of banking, and repealing it led to interpenetration between those functions. I feel like something like that should apply to manufacturing companies setting up banks. I can’t quite articulate why in any detail. It just has an Ick factor to me. YMMV.

  95. 95
    kc says:

    GE’s Immelt is in charge of “competitiveness” for the Obama administration.

    I still look forward to you and ABL telling me to shut the fuck up and vote for Obama anyway.

    No, really, I DO!

  96. 96

    How about we unplug all those High-Frequency Trading computers that are plugged into the stock exchange main frames and make them put traders back on the floors? Fuck ’em. As for corps that won’t repatriate, how about we tax them regardless of where the money is made. Again, fuck ’em.

    Ban naked shorts, CDOs and all the other shenanigans and if they don’t like it, we’ll repatriate their u.s. assets and redistribute them.

    Yeah, I’d go all marxist on their asses at this point.

  97. 97
    gex says:

    @84 (reply link not working, oddly)

    Not only that, but GS built a giant data center near the NYSE. It detects trends in trading and, via proximity, moves in to get their trades in earlier. Not on their own market skill. Just by sniffing the wire and jumping into the front of the line.

  98. 98
    Tulpa says:

    The swipe at market libertarians in general and Reason in particular is totally uncalled for. They hate “targeted tax credits” for politically-favored corporations as much as anyone.

    Big business and big government are not the enemies you perceive them to be. Ask Mattel.

  99. 99
    My Truth Hurts says:

    How is my tax bill, on a net income of about $34k, almost $4k and these motherfuckers don’t pay a dime?

    Seriously, how the fuck is that supposed to work?

    Where’s my gun?

  100. 100
  101. 101
    bobo says:

    Where’s the Reason video? Maybe it’s in Charlie Rangel’s Ipod. Or maybe Jeff Immelt put it in a suppository and slowly eased it up Obama’s arse. I think that’s what the Market demanded.

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