Romney: “Corporations Are People, My Friend” — Albeit Ones That Don’t Require Clean Air or a Livable Climate

GOP Presidential front runner Mitt Romney offered his view of why corporations should not pay higher taxes at a damaging campaign stop in Iowa.  His remarks open a window into his corporatist, pollutocrat worldview.  As Think Progress Justice noted:

Audience members responded angrily to his plans, and Romney frequently responded belligerently to their anger. In one of the most contentious exchanges, Romney defended his belief that we “should consider a higher retirement age” for Social Security and Medicare to preserve tax breaks for corporations:

ROMNEY: There’s various ways of [preserving Social Security and Medicare’s solvency]. One is we could raise taxes on people. That’s not the way . . .

AUDIENCE: Corporations! Corporations!

ROMNEY: Corporations are people, my friend.

AUDIENCE: No they’re not.

ROMNEY: Of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. Where do you think it goes?

AUDIENCE: It goes into your pocket!

ROMNEY: Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets. Human beings, my friend.

Given the rapidly growing disparity between the wages of CEOs and those of  workers, and the rapidly growing wealth of  the richest 1% versus the rest of us, the fact is that an increasing share of what corporations earn goes to a small number of very rich people.

It  is also true that corporations spend money lobbying and spreading disinformation on climate science and the EPA, to preserve their ability to  poison the planet and destroy a livable climate.

And  that goes to the heart of the fatal flaw in Romney’s worldview.  Yes, conservative  politicians,  conservative pundits, and conservative Supreme Court justices believe corporations deserve to have the same rights as people, including virtually no limits on campaign donations.

The problem is that corporations don’t require clean air, clean water, and a livable climate.  Indeed,  in the short run, they can profit by destroying those things —  if the real people let them.

Treating corporations as the same as people is the road to ruin for any modern society, as America is witnessing.


Below are old comments from the earlier Facebook commenting system:

This is easy. The appropriate answer is, if corporations are people, then they should be paying the the same tax rate as individuals.

7 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 10:43pm

Thomas G. Allen

Matt – were you conservative in college? I have this weird recollection that you were.

Like · Reply · August 11 at 11:00pm

Matthew Parker · Catholic University of America

Yes, but then I grew up. :)

3 · Like · Reply · August 11 at 11:01pm

Thomas G. Allen

Weird. It usually works the other way around – although I used to be pretty socially conservative and now am pretty liberal.

Like · Reply · August 11 at 11:03pm

View 5 more

Gary Herstein · Top Commenter

The correct term, of course, is “persons” not “people.” The latter is a collective term for human beings, while the former is the one with specifically moral and legal standing.

The biggest problem is precisely that corporations are NOT treated like persons, since the latter can and are held responsible for their behavior. Corporations want unfettered *license* — as in “licensiousness” — not “rights,” since “rights” only exist in the context of responsibilities.

6 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 7:45pm

Thomas Jamison · Top Commenter

In the Dred Scott decision, the Supreme Court ruled that people are property. In the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court ruled that property (corporations) are people.

We need to come up with some way to stop these extremely wrong, misguided, extremely damaging court decisions. They are destroying our democracy.

5 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 7:49pm

Timothy Hanes · Top Commenter

Ooooo, that’s a good one. I’ll cite you when I use it later.

Like · Reply · August 12 at 9:34am

catman306 (signed in using Yahoo)

Mitt, corporations are legally like people, except that the owners, the real people who receive the earnings of the corporations are in no way (financially, morally, or legally) responsible for the activities of the corporation. The coporation’s officers might be responsible in some situations but they always have their corporation staff lawyers to help them. Corporatocracy is a cop out for the owners, a way for them to safely ignore responsibility for the social and ecological actions of their powerful money.

Real people are responsible for their actions.

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 7:28pm

Joan Savage · Top Commenter · SUNY-ESF

To state the obvious, corporations pay tax on profits, not gross income. Were an individual person able to deduct all expenses, and pay a tax only on what’s left over, that would diminish tax revenues to a trickle. I wonder if individuals should demand that we be taxed like corporations, based on equal protection under the law? It would be ruinous if it were implemented, but it would be an interesting test of the notion of corporations as individuals. Alternately one could demand that corporations be taxed on gross income, as individuals are, and get deductions for only a few expenses.
I’m just raising the equal protection issue in a different way.

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 12 at 9:07am

John Tucker · Top Commenter · Tulane University

The country was founded on the concept of individual civil liberties. When you count abstractions like corporations as individuals you also create a kind of super citizen in the head of the corporate structure, i.e. the CEO, that benefits dis-proportionally from relationships with purely financially centered, liberty endowed corporations.

“But the reasonable freeman sees through the magic of a title, and examines the man before he approves him. To him the honors of the worthless serve to write their masters’ vices in capitals, and their stars shine to no other end than to read them by.” – Thomas Paine, Reflections on Titles, May 1775.

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 6:39pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

@PaulBegala Paul Begala.
@MittRomney says “Corporations are people, my friend.” @GovernorPerry asks, “Does that mean I get to execute one?”!/PaulBegala/status/101745617843396608

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 7:34pm

  • Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

The pronunciation here is “my friend”

Like · Reply · August 11 at 7:45pm

Peter S. Mizla · Top Commenter · Vernon, Connecticut

Romney and the GOP can sell their shoddy message to many uninformed people.

Today we can see the results of over 30 years of ‘laissez Faire Plantation Style’ Policy.

What is worse we have a Democratic President that has basically followed the same road. Pathetic.

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 6:12pm

Wesley Rolley · Top Commenter · Northwestern University

If corporations are the same as people, then they should go to jail for doing bad things. Of course, they don’t and so they aren’t.

So what are we going to do about it? I find that only Move to Amend is making this a significant issue. All the rest just talk around the subject. You can find more of what Move to Amend is doing here:

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 6:22pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Stunning illusions

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 6:02pm

sasparillafizz (signed in using Yahoo)

I would think this sort of statement won’t sit well with most of the conservative voters in Iowa either (might with the company board set but not the general population).

Be interesting to see how much damage this does to him. Out of the GOP choices, he’d probably do the least amount of damage in office, course he’d probably have the best chance of unseating the current administration as well.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 11:40pm

Joan Savage · Top Commenter · SUNY-ESF

G. William Domhoff’s summary of “Who Rules America” updated July 2011.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 12 at 9:33am

Eric Stacy · Thurman, Ohio

Corporations are people? But I thought Soylent Green was people….

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 8:45am

kacevedo (signed in using Yahoo)

If corporations are people, its about time that we start sending them to jail for the crimes they commit including all the “people” who work there.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 3:34pm

Pete Mason

Typo? “his view of why corporations should pay higher taxes” — “should ** NOT ** pay higher taxes”, presumably… (opening line)

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 8:59pm

Environmental Citizenship


Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 12 at 8:48am

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