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The Reason Why

Thursday, April 10th, 2003 · 5 Comments

George McGovern has an excellent commentary in the new issue of The Nation. Here’s a snippet:

    He (Bush) treads carelessly on the Bill of Rights, the United Nations and international law while creating a costly but largely useless new federal bureaucracy loosely called “Homeland Security.” Meanwhile, such fundamental building blocks of national security as full employment and a strong labor movement are of no concern. The nearly $1.5 trillion tax giveaway, largely for the further enrichment of those already rich, will have to be made up by cutting government services and shifting a larger share of the tax burden to workers and the elderly. This President and his advisers know well how to get us involved in imperial crusades abroad while pillaging the ordinary American at home. The same families who are exploited by a rich man’s government find their sons and daughters being called to war, as they were in Vietnam–but not the sons of the rich and well connected.

Sure, Iraqis are cheering in the streets now and Americans who are playing along with the war at home are all smiles now, but what happens next? And how many more people have to die while the rich get richer and people continue to lose jobs at home? There’s still a country to rebuild and govern, and there are still two more axes on the axis of evil still standing. World domination here we come!

I fear the dangerous precedent this war has set.

(Thanks, Dad, via Uncle Michael, for passing along.)

Tags: the world

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jose Luis // Apr 10, 2003 at 2:13 pm

    Are you suggesting that we the taxpayers should bail out the airlines again? Or maybe that instead of having a tax cut we increase should our tax burden? Or maybe that we should let mafias also known as unions rampantly extort the entrepreneurial individuals among us? Or perhaps that we should let terrorist groups operate freely in our country for fear of being labeled “politically incorrect”?

    I agree with you, these are tough times yet I still need to hear a better plan for the future rather than constant whining about the present.

  • 2 gabe // Apr 10, 2003 at 3:28 pm

    who said anything about bailing out the airlines? i think that’s a horrible idea. it shouldn’t have been done the first time around.

    here’s a plan for the future: urge congress to bring the “Corporate Patriot Enforcement Act” (HR 737 / S 384) to the floor for a vote to prevent U.S. corporations (like cheney’s haliburton) and the super-wealthy (like cheney) from AVOIDING TAXES that are costing the U.S. $70 BILLION per year (hey, that could pay for their war!) while poor U.S. soldiers are dying in iraq or coming back to find themselves jobless. that was my point.

    consider this:

    Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2003 18:56:49 -0700 (PDT)
    From: “Wes Boyd, MoveOn.Org”
    To: Gabe A_nderson
    Subject: Fight corporate offshore tax dodges

    Dear MoveOn member,

    We are always told that war demands sacrifice. But while American
    soldiers are risking their lives in Iraq, many of the country’s
    wealthiest corporations are shirking billions of dollars in taxes. As
    the costs of conflict soar, the President refuses to close a tax
    loophole that allows big businesses to avoid shouldering their share
    of the tax burden using off-shore corporate tax dodges — literally
    leaving the country in a time of need.

    The President wants the debate in Congress this week to focus on the
    size of his tax cut for the wealthy. We’re launching a media and
    grassroots campaign to instead focus on the hypocrisy of these
    corporations. Our TV ad juxtaposes the sacrifice of our sons and
    daughters in Iraq with their greedy and immoral pursuit of self-
    interest. I’ve attached a press advisory below. But the campaign
    will be most successful if the media hit is coupled with lots of
    phone calls to Congress. Can you help?

    Please make a call today to your members of Congress to ask that they
    outlaw corporate offshore tax dodges. You can reach them at:

    Senator Feinstein
    DC Phone: 202-224-3841

    Senator Boxer
    DC Phone: 202-224-3553

    Congresswoman Pelosi
    DC Phone: 202-225-4965

    Be sure the staff members know you’re a constituent, then urge them to
    demand a vote on the “Corporate Patriot Enforcement Act” (HR 737 /
    S 384).[1] Ask for their position on corporations and wealthy
    citizens leaving the country to avoid taxes. Ask them to provide it in
    writing. Tell them how you feel about this happening while young
    Americans are being sent to Iraq, and while we^re all facing deficits
    and cutbacks at home.

    One of the biggest obstacles to action on this issue is that House
    Republican Leaders Dennis Hastert (R-IL-14) and Tom Delay (R-TX-22)
    are refusing to allow a vote on it. Please call them too, at:

    House Speaker Dennis Hastert:
    202-225-0600 or 202-225-2976

    House Republican Leader Tom Delay:
    202-225-4000 or 202-225-5951

    Urge them to immediately let the Corporate Patriot Enforcement Act
    (HR 737) come to a vote. Ask for their position in writing as well.

    Please let us know that you’ve made these calls at:

    http://moveon.org/callmade.html?id=1293-1834571-hl7XsbRQFvhGG56E5eoBxA

    Corporate offshore tax dodges are symbolic of the corporate interests
    driving the Bush administration and GOP in their ridiculous economic
    policies. Every year, about $70 billion dollars in revenue are lost
    from American corporations that have moved their corporate headquarters
    or subsidiaries to places like Bermuda, and from wealthy individuals
    moving their assets overseas.[2] To get a sense for the size of this
    theft — this is the size of ALL the state budget deficits that are
    creating such pain around the nation through cutbacks in school
    programs and other essential services.

    It’s not surprising that many of the worst tax-dodge offenders are
    directly linked to the Bush administration and right-wing politicians,
    through corporate patronage of family members, personal connections,
    and lavish political contributions. Vice President Cheney’s company,
    Halliburton, is a leader in this kind of tax evasion, even as Cheney
    himself continues to receive deferred compensation from the company.[3]

    The Republican right’s support of corporate offshore tax dodges is
    inexcusable. Your calls can help bring the issue to light. Once it’s
    out in the open, there’s a good likelihood that Congress can close the
    loophole. There simply is no excuse.

    Of course, offshore tax dodges are only the most egregious example of
    the economic mismanagement we face. For the first time since Herbert
    Hoover presided over the Great Depression, the Bush administration has
    refused to provide any real stimulus to the economy in truly tough
    economic times. Instead, they are calling primarily for tax cuts for
    the wealthy and for corporations. We now face disastrous budget
    deficits as far as the eye can see, without a credible short-term
    stimulus. It’s an amazing example of ideology gone mad.

    “Stimulus” means getting funds to those in the greatest need and to
    those who will spend the money fastest. In a time of economic crisis,
    it’s the only good reason for short-term deficit spending. Typically,
    a good economic steward would:

    – EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS so that those hardest hit by the
    recession could make ends meet. This funding would obviously go
    directly into consumer spending and “raise all boats.”

    – PROVIDE SUPPORT TO STATES AND EDUCATION so that recession-driven
    state deficits don’t lead to the collapse of public education around
    the country.
    – PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR LOCAL SERVICES so that deficits and new unfunded
    “homeland security” mandates don’t devastate local police, fire and
    hospital services.

    These kinds of measures would translate directly into consumer
    spending, providing an effective stimulus to pull us out of a
    recessionary spiral. It is truly terrifying that our national
    government is not playing this traditional role, and is instead
    building deficits for generations to come.

    Call today and let’s begin the process of taking our government back
    from corrupt special interests. There can be no defense for the
    right wing’s support of corporate tax evasion in this era of deep
    economic challenges and true personal sacrifice.

    Thank you,

    -The MoveOn Team
    Carrie, Eli, Joan, Peter, Wes, and Zack
    April 9th, 2003

    P.S.: To see the ad, go to:

    Real Media Format (Recommended):
    http://stream.realimpact.net/rihurl.ram?file=realimpact/moveon/bermuda.rm

    MPEG Format:
    rtsp://207.188.20.213:554/realimpact/moveon/bermuda.mpg

    [1] HR 737, the Corporate Patriot Enforcement Act, is officially
    summarized as: “A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to
    prevent corporate expatriation to avoid United States income taxes.”

    [2] http://www.bayarea.com/mld/bayarea/business/4446810.htm

    [3] http://www.msnbc.com/news/893298.asp#fan

    ____________

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Charles Miller,
    Kawana Lloyd,
    Fenton Communications
    (202) 822-5200

    Corporations Using Offshore Tax Dodges are
    Deserting America in a Time of Trouble, Says The Bermuda Project

    As Americans Prepare to Pay their Taxes, Corporate Fat Cats Abandon
    our Country to Avoid Paying Their Fair Share

    Washington, DC — At a time of soaring budget deficits, proposed cuts
    in veterans’ benefits, and with the war in Iraq costing $75 billion and
    counting, corporations such as Halliburton, Tyco and Accenture, along
    with wealthy individuals, are costing the nation over $70 billion a
    year through offshore tax dodges, reported leaders of the new Bermuda
    Project while announcing the launch of a campaign to crack down on such
    practices.

    “These companies enjoy America^s many freedoms but don^t want to pay
    their fair share to support schools, law enforcement, and homeland
    security. They desert the country for Bermuda^s beaches, even as our
    young men and women are putting their lives on the line in Iraq^s
    deserts,” said author, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of The
    Bermuda Project, Arianna Huffington. “They are cheating America, and
    they are cheating every American taxpayer who plays by the rules.”

    “Across America, teachers, firefighters police officers, and others are
    feeling the squeeze,” said Robert Borosage, co-director of the
    Institute for America^s Future and co-founder of The Bermuda Project.
    “At the same time, Republican leaders in Congress are blocking a vote
    on legislation that could recover billions of dollars a year from
    expatriate tax dodgers. Something is profoundly wrong with this
    picture.”

    A new ad campaign launched by The Bermuda Project graphically contrasts
    the corporate behavior with the sacrifices young men and women are
    making at a time of war. The ad features images of soldiers in Iraq
    juxtaposed with paunchy CEOs in three-piece suits at a tropical resort.
    The voice-over intones: “In the sands of Iraq, our soldiers risk their
    lives for our country. At the same time, big corporations are
    abandoning our country and setting up phony tax shelters in the sands
    of Bermuda.”

    The new television advertisement will run in several markets, including
    Washington, DC, and the home districts of House Majority Leader Tom
    Delay (R-TX) and Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL). Delay and Hastert are
    refusing to allow a vote on legislation — the Corporate Patriot
    Enforcement Act — that would crack down on these shelters and that
    would pass overwhelmingly if allowed to come to the floor.

    The Bermuda Project highlighted Halliburton as an example of shameless
    corporate behavior.

    “While Vice President Cheney was at the helm of Halliburton,
    Halliburton hiked the number of subsidiaries sheltered in offshore tax
    havens from 9 in 1995 to 44 in 1999,” reported Huffington, whose book
    Pigs at the Trough documents such corporate behavior. “Halliburton
    went from paying taxes to collecting rebates from the public trough.
    Yet Halliburton continues to receive government contracts, including a
    10-year deal with the Army that comes with no lid on potential costs.
    It was also awarded — without competitive bidding — a contract to
    fight oil fires in post-war Iraq that could be worth up to $1 billion.
    This corporate expatriate bilks and milks the American people at the
    same time. Such selfish cynicism not only offends hardworking
    Americans about to pay their taxes, it contrasts sharply with those
    young American soldiers making the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq.”

    The Bermuda Project plans an extensive campaign, including the on-line
    mobilization of citizens by MoveOn.org, the network of more than 1.3
    million online activists, and Working Assets, another of the nation^s
    most powerful on-line activist groups with over 700,000 members.
    MoveOn.org and Working Assets will use on-line petitions and organizing
    to enable outraged Americans to let the corporations and the Congress
    know what they think about this practice.

    “Congress isn^t just allowing this corporate betrayal to happen, it is
    aiding and abetting it,” said Zack Exley of MoveOn.org. “If we all
    agree that this kind of corporate desertion is un-American, then why
    are Republican leaders like Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader
    Tom Delay blocking efforts to crack down on it?”

    Joining these groups at the press conference to launch the campaign
    were Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA).
    Congressman Neal has introduced the Corporate Patriot Enforcement Act,
    HR 737 with over 125 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House to outlaw the
    practice of American businesses sheltering profits overseas to avoid
    their responsibility to this country. Similar legislation was
    introduced by Senator Reid last year, and was approved by the Senate
    in late March.

    ###

    ________________

  • 3 Jose Luis // Apr 10, 2003 at 4:23 pm

    You are loosing sight of the fact that these are publicly owned companies and their decisions regardless of how ethic might be, are ultimately controlled by shareholders, middle class people like you and me.
    Maybe if we stopped the fleecing of shareholders by double taxing dividends there would be more incentive for shareholders to prevent their corporations running overseas to protect their investments.
    Let the people vote with their wallets by creating a fair environment and by not continuing to try to distribute wealth artificially, after all we the individuals that work and create wealth in the first place know better than politicians, especially those politicians out there looking after the “little guy”.

  • 4 Dave Reed // Apr 11, 2003 at 6:13 pm

    To me, the “Homeland Security” felt a little too much like the beginnings of Nazi Germany. We, as citizens, will just have to make sure it never gets to that point.

  • 5 gabe // Apr 16, 2003 at 10:33 am

    re: “You are loosing sight of the fact that these are publicly owned companies and their decisions regardless of how ethic might be, are ultimately controlled by shareholders, middle class people like you and me.”

    i’m not losing sight of anything. sure, they’re publicly-owned companies, but what does that really mean? that public companies are “accountable” to the shareholders? sure, they’re accountable in the sense that they’re obligated to make as much money as possible for the shareholders, but “controlled” by the shareholders? that’s a really strong word — and quite the stretch. i disagree. sure, shareholders get to vote on things like “should the board meetings be held on the 1st or the 15th of the first month of every quarter” and “do you think that the new board president should be joe schmoe or john doe?” but shareholders certainly do not have a say on how companies are run — their ethics, whether or not to engage in tax evasion or offshore banking.

    i am not only a shareholder in a public company, but also work for one. i know that my company is ethical and practices honest accounting, but honestly, if it didn’t, would i have “control” over those policies? not likely. in fact, i probably wouldn’t even know. (think enron here.)

    there are organizations that encourage socially-responsible investing and individuals (like me) who refuse to invest in tobacco companies or funds that own shares in tobacco companies, but does the average middle class person do that? do you? or do you want your money invested where it’s going to make the most money, regardless of what shady practices the company is engaging in?