ThinkProgress filed this report from the Tea Party Tax Day rally in Orlando, FL.
One of the central goals of this Main Street Movement is to denounce corporate tax dodgers like General Electric which paid nothing in corporate income tax, despite making more than $14 billion in profits last year. In fact, the corporation actually received a tax benefit of $3.2 billion. GE is not alone in its refusal to pay corporate income taxes; Bank of America, Exxon-Mobil, and others have avoided paying corporate income taxes as well.
However, at last Friday’s Tax Day Tea Party rally in Orlando, Florida, none of the speakers chastised corporations for avoiding their taxes. (Corporate tax avoidance imposes a higher tax burden on individual Americans.) In fact, the keynote speaker, Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain, even called for lowering the corporate tax rate by 10 percentage points.
ThinkProgress spoke with the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza CEO to get his further thoughts about corporate tax dodgers. Cain defended the situation, accusing those who protest corporate tax dodging of “not looking at the big picture.” Cain then went on to declare that he “would like to see no taxes on corporations”:
KEYES: You mentioned about the, here on tax day, the corporate tax rate, that you’d like to see it reduced from 35 percent to 25 percent. But a lot of these corporations like GE are paying nothing in taxes currently.
CAIN: You’re mixing the issues, young man. Let me tell you something. People who pick out a company that spends zero, they’re not looking at the big picture. They’re not looking at the big picture. [Crosstalk] Secondly, taxes paid by corporations get passed on to consumers.
KEYES: So would you like to see no taxes on corporations?
CAIN: I would like to see no taxes on corporations. That’s why I favor the Fair Tax. That would be fair to consumers. That’s why I would like to see that.
KEYES: Do you think it’s fair though that they’re taking advantage of some of these loopholes?
CAIN: Now, let me tell you. They didn’t write these loopholes. So the fact that they’re using these “loopholes,” as you’re calling it, they’re just doing what the loopholes are. Change the loopholes by eliminating the tax code and replacing it with the Fair Tax and there would be no loopholes.
Cain’s proposal to eliminate all corporate income taxes is troubling enough. But his assertion that corporations “didn’t write these loopholes” shows a significant lack of understanding regarding how tax loopholes are created. Congress rarely passes tax expenditures out of the goodness of its heart. Rather, corporations spend billions on lobbyists whose job it is to help rewrite the tax code and pave the way for corporate tax dodging.
Still, Cain is not the only Republican arguing for lower corporate taxes. In the Tea Party-dominant GOP, calling for lower tax rates on corporations and millionaires, and tax hikes for the middle class, has become Republican orthodoxy.