The Hightower Report

Billion Dollar Tax Loophole; and Oil Spill Blame Game

Billion Dollar Tax Loophole

I look at GE, and I think, "Gee, how does it get away with that?"

Then I remember: Oh yeah – it has a horde of Washington lobbyists, and it hands out bales of campaign cash to key Congress critters. That's how General Electric and other multinational conglomerates get our tax laws rigged so that the rates they pay are a fraction of what you and I have to pay.

Actually GE paid less than a fraction. Even though the corporation had income totaling more than $10 billion, it paid nothing into our national treasury on April 15. Indeed, it paid less than zero, for it is getting a billion-dollar tax rebate!

This is due to a loophole called "transfer pricing" – a bit of accounting hocus pocus that transfers corporate profits to subsidiaries in low-tax countries abroad, while ascribing GE's expenses to operations here. Incredibly, one General Electric subsidiary posted a $6.5 billion loss in the U.S. last year but showed a $4.3 billion profit overseas. Overall, GE has $84 billion parked indefinitely in offshore accounts, thus dodging its fair share of taxes needed for the upkeep of our nation.

President Obama is calling for repeal of this overseas tax dodge, and of course the tax dodgers are howling. One corporate-funded front group, the Tax Foundation, even claims that, "The average Joe should be in favor of lower corporate taxes." Why? Because, says a spokesman, by avoiding taxes, outfits like GE can raise wages and lower consumer prices.

Is he stupid enough to think we're that stupid? Corporate chieftains are slashing wages, moving our jobs to cheap-labor countries, and raising consumer prices as fast as they can – while pocketing outrageous salaries and fat profits. Let's at least make them pay their tax bills like the rest of us Americans do.

Oil Spill Blame Game

Luckily, with yet another ecological catastrophe hitting our country, we have national analysts with the expertise, insight, and calm reasoning to pull our nation together and guide us to rational long-term solutions. For example, Rush Limbaugh.

Yes, as BP's disastrous deepwater well in the Gulf of Mexico began spewing a gusher of crude that has spread across an area bigger than Delaware, Limbaugh rushed out with a one-word analysis that went right to the core of the problem: "environmentalists." The ecological and economic nightmare gushing from BP's well was not a product of technological failure, corporate greed, or regulatory laxness but – in Limbaugh's twisted mind – the result of sabotage by maniacal greens. "What better way to head off more oil drilling than by blowing up a rig?" asked the Sherlock of right-wing radio.

Meanwhile, some of the noisiest and oiliest politicians who were demanding deregulation of offshore drilling only two years ago – chanting "Drill, baby, drill" – are now deflecting criticism of that policy by saying that there's only one culprit to blame for BP's oozing mess: God. Among the finger-pointers is right-wing slick Rick Perry, governor of Texas. "From time to time," Perry recently explained, "there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented."

Hmmm. So Perry is saying that God exploded BP's rig, killed 11 of the workers, shut down the livelihoods of countless Gulf fishing families, and spread a deadly oil slick across the shores of at least four states. Wow, that's one angry god!

Of course, if Perry is right, this god-awful disaster could be a message from on high, saying to oil giants and other politicians, "Get the hell out of my waters with your money-sucking, creation-destroying rigs."

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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General Electric, British Petroleum, Rush Limbaugh, Rick Perry

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