ThinkProgress filed this report from the Wild Irish Breakfast in Nashua, NH.
One of the top priorities for Republicans this year has been to preserve and extend corporate tax breaks. This includes GOPers like former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) who have eagerly defended corporations like Bank of America, ExxonMobil, and GE which have avoided paying a dime in corporate income taxes in recent years, but rake in huge annual profits.
Another one of those companies making millions in profits but failing to pay any corporate income tax is Arch Coal. In 2009, for instance, the corporation netted over $42 million, yet was able to use tax loopholes and gimmicks to avoid contributing anything in corporate income taxes.
ThinkProgress asked Gingrich about these corporate tax-dodgers this week at a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in Nashua, New Hampshire. Gingrich defended Arch Coal and other corporations who avoided paying income taxes because “they don’t owe that” to the U.S. government. Striking an anti-populist note, the former House Speaker also praised the fact that even though many corporations were avoiding taxes, their employees would still be forced to contribute to the government’s coffers.
Gingrich concluded by enthusiastically championing corporate tax loopholes, telling ThinkProgress that corporations were using “an incentive…not a loophole.” “We should celebrate that as a good thing,” Gingrich added:
KEYES: There have been a lot of complains from the left and right about corporations not paying their fair share in taxes. For instance, Arch Coal in 2009 made $42 million but paid nothing in corporate income tax. What are your thoughts on that?
GINGRICH: My thoughts are I’m opposed to tax increases. I want to create more jobs in America, not fewer.
KEYES: But they’re not paying anything right now in corporate income tax.
GINGRICH: But you don’t know why they’re not paying anything. Did they buy new equipment? Did they do things that actually create jobs? I can’t give you an answer for any one company.
KEYES: But in general, corporations who are making millions and millions in profit but then not contributing anything to the United States government. Do you think that’s fair?
GINGRICH: First of all, if they make millions and millions in profit, they probably employ thousands and thousands of people and those thousands and thousands of people are contributing a lot to America. I am for the maximum job creation in the United States and I think that means lower taxes, not higher taxes. It means less regulations, not more regulation.
KEYES: But you don’t think we should try to be forcing them to pay what they owe?
GINGRICH: First of all, they don’t owe that. If what they did was legal, and if it was designed to create more jobs. For example, if we gave you 100 percent write-off for new equipment so you could compete with China, and you use that 100 percent write-off, you actually did what we wanted you to do. [...] You have to go ask Arch [Coal] “what is it they did right in order to lower their tax liability and did it create jobs in America?”
KEYES: Would you like to see those corporate tax loopholes closed though? [crosstalk]
GINGRICH: I just want to say this because it’s an important difference in how we approach this. If we give you an incentive to do something right that creates more jobs, that is not a loophole. That’s an incentive. If you then intelligently follow that incentive and create more jobs, we should celebrate that as a good thing.
Last year, Arch Coal made a direct $100,000 corporate donation to Gingrich’s political committee American Solutions for Winning the Future.