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Congress, taxes and ‘dark’ money in politics
by Jake Highton
Jun 05, 2013 | 1707 views | 0 0 comments | 61 61 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tim Cook, Apple CEO, recently charmed Senate panelists so sweetly that his corporation’s tax avoidance became a wonderful thing rather than the outrage it is. Here was the fiery Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, bowing and scraping before the huge tax evader while holding aloft an Apple ‘app’ like a happy consumer.

“We love the iPhone and iPad,” chairman Levin exulted at a hearing held by the investigations committee. As the New York Times reported: “The big cats on the committee were practically eating out of Cook’s hand.”

Apple avoided paying billions in taxes to the Treasury while creating “ghost companies” abroad. It’s part of an even bigger picture: multinationals based in America hold more than $1.6 trillion in cash invested overseas — funds taxable at 35 percent in this country.

Apple created Apple Operations International incorporated in Ireland. But it keeps its bank accounts in America. The real scandal in the U.S. tax code is that corporations like Apple get away scot-free — with the approval of Congress.

Meanwhile, the supposed IRS targeting of the Tea Party and conservative spinoffs caused a hullabaloo. But the uproar was unwarranted. The IRS was checking any group applying for a special tax status to see if they were engaged in political activity.

“Organizations of all persuasions were pulled in,” outgoing acting IRS commissioner Steve Miller testified.  “Only 70 of the 300 organizations were Tea Party groups.”

In any case, the IRS allows corporations and wealthy individuals to make secret campaign donations through political fronts called “social welfare organizations.” It’s “dark money” in politics.

Warren for president

Social media gossip has anointed Hillary Clinton as the nation’s first woman president. But a far better choice in the 2016 election would be Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Warren first came to public attention as an advocate of a federal financial protection bureau and chair of the congressional oversight panel on the economy. After Congress enacted the Economic Stabilization Act in 2010, she advised President Obama on implementing it.

She was such a staunch battler for the consumer that advocacy groups urged the president to name her the first head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But Obama, born without a backbone, refused. He was convinced Warren could not be confirmed because of Republican fears that she would represent people not business.

The fears were justified. But Obama should have fought for the best, not pick the third-rater he did. It would be wonderful irony if such a refusal led to the first woman president.

If elected, Elizabeth Warren would be the first people’s president since FDR. Hillary Clinton is a middle-of-the-roader just as President Clinton was and President Obama is.

Here’s an example of how Warren would fight for the people. The interest rate for student loans is due to double to 6.8 percent July 1. Banks have a rate of 0.75.

“Why should the big banks get a nearly free ride while people trying to get an education pay nine times more?” the Massachusetts senator asks. “The federal government is profiting off loans to our young people while giving a far better deal to the same Wall Street banks that crashed the economy and destroyed millions of jobs.”

Warren has introduced a bill allowing students to borrow money at the same rate as the big banks. Alas, it perished in committee as most measures for the public good do.

Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Renoo   
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