Honeywell CEO David Cote said yesterday – when his goons weren’t yanking the microphone away from a labor reporter asking a question – that the ideal corporate tax rate should be zero percent:
SORKIN: David, I have a tax question for you. What do you think the ultimate effective tax rate should be on corporations?
COTE: The problem is from a fairness perspective, nobody would be able to stand it. But at the the end of the day, jobs come from companies and if we wanted to create the most effective foreign direct investment pipeline you’ve ever seen, we would have the lowest rate possible.
So the only barrier to a 0% corporate tax rate, in Cote’s mind, is that the plebeians might have a problem with it. Otherwise, it’s race race race to the bottom.
Right-wing corporate titan, fish gotta swim, no matter, right? Except that Cote sat on the Bowles-Simpson catfood commission designed to reduce deficits. And his instinct is to completely relieve the tax burden from corporations which are experiencing a record in profits as a percentage of GDP. Barack Obama appointed Cote to that position on the catfood commission. And the President is actually speaking at a Honeywell facility in Minnesota today (just over the border from Wisconsin, by the way, on the eve of the biggest election outside of November happening in just a few days).
Honeywell has been laying off entire plants of union workers and driving down wages and benefits for their employees, while its CEO took home $37 million last year. And as an additional reward for this, David Cote gets plum spots on Presidential commissions where he gets a platform to call for the elimination of corporate taxes, which considering that we already have one of the lowest corporate tax rates in effective terms in the world, and job growth is still basically a disaster, is bad policy in addition to being nakedly aggrandizing.
But this is where we are in our New Gilded Age. Presidents and political parties are basically conduits to serve corporate titans. You can’t even have a decent bout of outrage against private equity firms that use favorable tax laws to strip value out of the companies they buy; over the past two days the Democratic Governor of Massachusetts and a former Democratic President both went out of their way to praise private equity in general and Bain Capital in particular, at odds with the Obama campaign’s strategy. Both of them have cozy ties with the financial elite (Deval Patrick was Ameriquest’s lawyer), and don’t want to rock the boat too much.
Corporate capture of government is a systemic issue that knows no single party.