The idea of assigning personhood, or life, to objects lacking the qualities or features of living beings without any sign of life or consciousness is something young children do as an expression of their imagination. There are adults who give gender specific names to inanimate objects like cars, boats and even musical instruments, but like children, they know the object is not really a person. Willard Romney believes legal instruments, corporations, are people and it is childish, but the conservative Supreme Court bestowed personhood on corporations as the law of the land so legally, Romney has a point.
A few days ago, a hidden video surfaced that exposed Romney alleging that 47% of Americans “believe they are victims and the government has a responsibility to care for them” and “should give them entitlements.” Romney complained that the 47% “are people who pay no income tax” and that he could “never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Willard’s point of contention is that people who do not pay income taxes are leeches on Americans that do pay income tax, but there is serious incongruity in his argument. There is a percentage of Willard’s people (corporations) that do not pay income taxes, and yet he and Republicans’ long-standing assertion is that corporations (people) are victims of high taxation and cannot possibly prosper unless their taxes are slashed because the “government has a responsibility to care for them.”
It is interesting then, that another group of people, veterans, who are unemployed and pay no income taxes were denied a jobs program by Senate Republicans who advocate for more corporate-people entitlements in the form of tax cuts. President Obama has pushed for the Veterans Jobs Corps bill to help out-of-work Veterans find gainful employment and gain access to the infrastructure to assist in job searches. The Republicans in the Senate said America could not afford $1 billion over five years to hire 20,000 young veterans for public lands jobs and to prioritize veterans for first responder jobs such as police, firefighter, or EMT that they most likely trained for while serving their country. Perhaps Senate Republicans, like Willard Romney, differentiate between corporate-people who pay no income taxes and do not need assistance, and real people who do not pay income taxes and need assistance.
The real people Romney complained are not paying income tax do not earn enough to qualify for even the lowest tax bracket, and it includes retirees subsisting on their Social Security retirement accounts, out of work veterans and combat troops, and the working poor. Many of the real people who pay no income tax benefit from tax credits for the elderly, working poor, or students, or President Obama’s historically low tax rates that help families make ends meet in the Bush-Republican post-recession economy. The Tax Policy Center notes that only 7% of the population is non-elderly with no tax liability, and most earn less than $20,000 annually. Romney and Republicans’ corporate-people, however, are in an entirely different income situation.
Since Romney complained that 47% of real Americans paid no income taxes were parasites on the government and could not take responsibility for their lives, it is hypocritical that he failed to include 26 highly profitable Fortune 500 companies that paid no income taxes and in some cases got a refund since 2008. Why did Willard not complain that companies like Bain Capital’s Mattel, General Electric, Boeing, and Wells Fargo received taxpayer-funded entitlements while they paid nothing in income taxes? If Romney is irritated that real Americans living at poverty level cannot be taught to take responsibility for their lives and start paying income taxes, when will he teach highly profitable corporate-people to start taking some responsibility for their corporate-lives and pay income taxes? Besides not paying income taxes when they are making record profits, they live off entitlements funded by Americans who do pay income taxes.
Nearly all of the 26 Fortune 500 who did not pay income taxes use resources taxpayers fund like ports, highways, and the transportation system, or police and fire protection, water and sewer systems, and tax breaks for shipping Americans’ jobs overseas. When will banks and companies like Bain Capital that received taxpayer-funded government bailouts start taking personal responsibility for their corporate lives after they gambled with other Americans’ money and caused the global recession? They certainly are not poor like the 47% of Americans who paid no income taxes or they would not be listed in the Fortune 500 most profitable companies. If Romney is going to impugn real Americans who do not pay income taxes because they are poor; why does he give highly profitable corporations a pass and campaign on a promise to reduce their tax rate even more? Because those inanimate legal instruments are his “corporation-people,” and unlike a child’s imaginary person, they help Romney earn millions.
Romney and Republicans cannot have it both ways. It is Romney’s standard argument to decry the high corporate tax rate, and Americans should start asking how much lower than zero can he possibly reduce corporate taxes? According to Citizens for Tax Justice, 30 of the 280 biggest, profitable Fortune 500 corporations paid no net federal income tax from 2008 through 2011, and 26 of the 30 enjoyed negative federal income tax rates. That means they made more money after tax than before tax over four years, and overall, they had an average effective federal income tax rate of negative 3.1% between 2008 and 2011. All the while, Romney travels around the country telling voters his plan to stimulate the economy and create jobs is to cut corporate tax rates while Republicans cannot allow a vote for $1 billion over five years to help real Veterans find jobs.
Another way of looking at Romney’s corporations-are-people who need to take responsibility for their lives, is if they paid the 35% corporate tax rate, they would have paid $78.3 billion over four years. Instead, they received $78.3 billion in taxpayer-funded subsidies or as Willard calls them for real people; entitlements. Perhaps Romney needs to reassess his assertion that corporations are people because if real “people who do not pay income taxes” are parasites and need to learn to take responsibility for their lives, then his corporation-people have to start taking responsibility for their lives. The difference is glaring to any human being with half a brain; Romney does not profit from 47% of Americans who do not pay income taxes, and it explains his plan to raise taxes on the poor to pay for his tax cuts if he prevails in November. The idea behind cutting corporate taxes is to increase his wealth that he will hide in offshore accounts. It is high time for Romney to get some continuity in his “people who do not pay income taxes” are parasites meme because the real parasites are his corporations-are-people, and not Veterans, senior citizens, or the working poor.