Teamsters President Jim Hoffa created quite a buzz today when he labeled Apple unpatriotic, but patriotism is irrelevant. The real question is why aren’t Apple and other corporations paying their fair share?
Here is the video from CNN:
Here is the transcript:
CROWLEY: I don’t know if just heard, but Senator Jim DeMint said, you know, if they are going to hire someone anyway, sure, they will take the 5,000, but it’s not going to induce businesses to hire, because what they really see and what they really fear is the uncertainty of what health care is going to cost them, what they really fear is regulation that they don’t understand, how much bureaucracy they’re going to have to build in to their business and how much that will cost.
Would you — do you accept that as a premise? Or do you think businesses are sitting simply on money, waiting for what?
HOFFA: I think businesses are sitting on money. Look at Apple. They have $76 billion in their checking account. And they’re spending it.
CROWLEY: Which they are allowed to have.
HOFFA: But they are not doing anything with it. And instead of investing here, everything they do is in China or is in Asia somewhere. And the answer, look at Honda. Honda is building $1 billion plant, and they want to build it in Mexico. This is on the drawing board right now.
CROWLEY: It’s cheaper there.
HOFFA: Why isn’t it — well, we know that. But don’t they have an obligation to America to build it in America, to put people to work here instead of in Mexico? That’s what I believe.
You know, this is really — I think the president should challenge the patriotism of these American corporations that are sitting on the sidelines saying, why do we have high unemployment but I am not going to hire anybody? You know, they have an obligation just like the federal government, just like Obama. We have all got to get into the game. And I don’t see that happening. So the trillions and billions of dollars that they have on the sidelines, they have money, Pfizer and General Electric, they have trillions of dollars overseas, let’s start repatriating that money. Let’s start a program to get America going again.
The problem in America is not that we don’t have enough money. We have got more money than any other country in the world. The problem is American businesses are not spending it and not getting it in the game. That’s how we are going to get America going again.
CROWLEY: I’m hearing tweets across the universe here because — I want to go back. Are you questioning the patriotism of Apple for sitting on money rather than hiring?
HOFFA: Yes, I am.
CROWLEY: Are you?
HOFFA: Yes, I am. What is it with a company that makes — and they sell most of their products here in the United States. I mean, they’re the biggest — Apple, you have got Apple Stores everywhere else.
They have been sitting on that kind of money and every time they do something, they do it in China, they do it somewhere else. There’s something wrong with that. Don’t they have an obligation?
CROWLEY: They would tell you that the high price of labor and the high cost of health care and the high cost of environmental — you know, drove them out of the country.
HOFFA: I don’t believe that at all. You know, we have companies here that make a lot of money like UPS. We have a number of great companies here that are functioning here that are union, Sikorsky, and they are doing very, very well.
You can do it here. But the answer is, you have to have the incentive. And so many companies like Mr. Coffee and all of these other companies that have closed and moved to Mexico, they are wrong. They are unpatriotic.
We have got to turn this around and say, hey, we are an American company, we owe an obligation to America, let’s put America back to work.
By assigning a human motivation to a corporation, Hoffa is buying into the Citizen’s United style thinking that corporations are people. They aren’t. As a corporation, Apple or any other business does not have a responsibility to create jobs, or spend their profits. One can argue that a healthy American economy creates more customers for Apple, and so a strong American economy is in Apple’s best interest, but they do not have a duty to spend their profits in the United States.
However, Apple like many other American corporate giants has been dodging their fair share of taxes on their profits by hoarding money overseas. According to Forbes, Apple’s overseas cash stash went from $17.4 billion in 2009 to $30.8 billion in 2010. Despite the fact that profits are surging, Apple’s US tax rate actually fell from 32% in 2009 to 24% in 2010. Apple has been able to dodge US taxes by putting ownership of its intellectual property in the names of foreign subsidiaries.
This is one of the many reasons why the Obama administration has been screaming from every mountain top about the urgent need for the closure of corporate tax loopholes. Jim Hoffa was dead wrong. This isn’t a patriotism issue. It is a fair share issue. As long as the US tax code allows corporate giants like Apple to legally cheat the system they will continue to do, and pass the burden on to the rest of us.
I could care less if Apple waves the flag 24/7/365. It would be more helpful to 98% of America if the rich and the corporate giants would stop passing the tax burden on to those who have less so that they can have more.