ThinkProgress filed this report from the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
An unlikely scene emerged at a Republican conference Thursday afternoon: a tea party congressman deplored corporate tax-dodging, and the conservative audience responded with cheers.
Freshman Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) spoke to the GOP crowd yesterday at the Western Republican Leadership Conference. Though the majority of his speech echoed standard Tea Party rhetoric, Labrador deviated from a discussion of Republican tax philosophy to condemn corporate tax cheats. Labrador said, “I believe that it is fundamentally unfair that companies like GE are making huge profits and not paying taxes.” The Republican audience applauded Labrador’s criticism:
LABRADOR: When people scream about Republicans being unwilling to raise taxes on the rich, they’re actually partly right. We don’t want to raise taxes on anyone. Not just the poor, not just the middle class, not just the rich. We don’t want to raise taxes on anyone. But we do believe that everyone should pay the taxes that are assessed to them and not find ways to avoid them through accounting tricks. I believe that it is fundamentally unfair that companies like GE are making huge profits and not paying taxes. (Applause)
Thursday’s scene displayed just how fed up Americans of all ideologies are with corporate tax cheats. With polls showing more than three in five Americans supporting increasing taxes on corporations and millionaires (including two-thirds of Republicans), perhaps outcries like these — even among conservative audiences — will become more commonplace.
Labrador aside, most Republican politicians have dismissed or even encouraged corporate tax dodging. In the presidential race, Newt Gingrich told ThinkProgress we should “celebrate” corporate tax dodgers and let them pay whatever rate they please, while Herman Cain said he “would like to see no taxes on corporations.” In the Senate, Ron Johnson’s (R-WI) reaction to corporate tax dodging was to call for a corporate tax cut, John Barrasso (R-WY) dismissed the issue because, in his view, “we don’t need more revenue,” and Pat Toomey (R-PA) said corporate taxes are already too high.
Finally, in the House of Representatives, Rob Woodall’s (R-GA) response to corporate tax dodging was to push for “the lowest corporate tax rate we can get,” Jeff Duncan (R-SC) argued that companies like GE are actually paying their fair share, and Louie Gohmert (R-TX) called for completely eliminating the corporate income tax.