At the Tea Party Patriots Policy Summit in Phoenix last Saturday, ThinkProgress spoke to several Republicans about their views behind efforts by US-UnCut to make tax-dodging corporations pay their fair share. As we have reported, Bank of America, CitiGroup, ExxonMobil, GE, Boeing, and other highly profitable American companies have found ways to avoid paying a single dime in corporate income taxes.
One of the lawmakers we spoke to, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), gave a robust defense of corporate tax dodgers. Asked why so many corporations avoid paying any taxes, Gohmert refused to believe the well-documented phenomenon. He later said that some businesses gain favorable tax treatment using political donations. We pressed Gohmert on that point, asking if he would open a congressional inquiry into the subject. He demurred, and repeatedly explained that he would “rather” just “get rid” of corporate income taxes altogether:
FANG: This weekend is actually the start of what some liberals are calling the progressive Tea Party [...] one of their key concerns is that corporations, in this time of austerity, aren’t paying their fair share. What they’re saying is, ExxonMobil, Bank of America, CitiGroup, GE, they aren’t paying any corporate income taxes. They’re using offshore bank accounts. Like for example, Bank of America in 2009 paid nothing in corporate income taxes. What do you think of that?
GOHMERT: Well I think when it comes to corporate income tax, people have been misled into thinking that corporations actually pay those. If you find a corporation paying income tax, they either pass those onto their consumers, whoever buys their service or product. If a corporation doesn’t pass that cost onto people like us, they can’t stay in business. So one of the things I’ve been advocating is completely doing away with the income tax [...]
FANG: ExxonMobil isnt very friendly to Obama, but they paid nothing in corporate income taxes in 2009. Do you think that’s too much?
GOHMERT: Well I think it’d be fair if all corporations didn’t have to pay that. [...] So I haven’t looked at Exxon’s income tax. If they aren’t paying what they’re supposed to, then I’m sure Eric Holder, who doesn’t mind avoiding enforcing the law if it helps his people support him, then he goes after people tooth and nail who don’t, he’d go after them.
FANG: Would you call for inquiry into some of these corporations that are paying nothing, like GE, like Bank of America, like ExxonMobil, using loopholes–
GOHMERT: The Justice Department will do anything they can to help GE–
FANG: Can’t you counter that? Your party is in power in Congress, can’t you force [...] Well at least in the House, can you call for hearings to force these corporations, GE, Bank of America, ExxonMobil, to pay their taxes, to pay their fair share?
GOHMERT: What I’d rather do is get rid of corporate income tax so that we can bring back all those manufacturing, steel, rubber, all these things that have gone to other countries because of a 35% corporate income tax.
Approached with a similar line of questioning by ThinkProgress, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) echoed Gohmert and called for less corporate taxes. However, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), a staunch conservative attending the same event, said that CitiGroup “broke the law” by refusing to pay corporate income taxes.