Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Thursday | December 05, 2002

Rewarding corporate tax evaders, political hacks

Read Arianna Huffington's latest column, and then read it again. This issue should be at the top of the Democrats' list over the next two years:

As the war on terror shows troubling signs of becoming a war of error, the Bush administration is waging a far more successful war on behalf of its corporate backers. The latest victory comes courtesy of Congress' 11th hour reversal of a provision in the Homeland Security Bill banning government contracts for companies that move offshore to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

This vote, shamelessly draped in the American flag, is so hypocritical, so despicable, and such an unmitigated "screw you" to every American taxpayer that it has sent me scrambling in search of a barricade to storm.

The sleazy backroom maneuvering that yielded this year-end dividend for expat corporations offers a perfect -- and perfectly nauseating -- case study in how Washington works.


That barely muffled cheer you might have heard came from the Caribbean-based corporate offices of companies such as scandal-ridden Tyco, Arthur Andersen progeny Accenture, and Ingersoll-Rand, a corporate chicken that, in a show of national mourning and solidarity, flew the coop a mere three months after the Sept. 11th attacks. All have avoided paying tens of millions in taxes by reincorporating offshore while pocketing tens of millions in federal contracts. And now, thanks to their good friends in Congress, they'll continue to do so. Not only do they not have to help pay for homeland security, but they're helping themselves to the spoils of the Homeland Security Act.

The administration has reiterated over and over again that this "war on terror" entails sacrifices, but its actions have clearly shown that its political and corporate backers will shoulder none of that burden. Another case in point:
The Bush administration's decision to revive cash bonuses for political appointees touched off a fury of criticism yesterday from Democrats, unions and some policy experts who said the move slighted ordinary federal employees and raised the specter of cronyism.


The Clinton administration ended the practice of doling out bonuses to most political appointees in 1994 after questionable payments to some outgoing aides in the final days of the administration of President George H.W. Bush, the president's father.


Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), the former first lady, called it "a decision that beggars the imagination." She noted that Bush cited a "national emergency" and the need to conserve money for the fight against terrorism last week when he froze one part of a federal pay raise for 1.8 million civilian employees. That limited the overall pay increase to 3.1 percent, less than the 4.1 percent Congress proposed.

It is clear that the Bush Administration simply cannot help itself, and there will be undoubtedly more examples such as these in the coming two years. Now, the Democratic Party's challenge is to take each of these gross abuses and build upon the last one -- the same way the GOP hammered home the "Gore is liar" theme. None of these incidents by themselves will expose the GOP for the facilitator of corporate corruption that it is, but with deft handling Democrats can help make the case.

I hate to assume that the Dems will let this and other opportunities pass, so let's hope that our side is starting to learn their lessons.

Posted December 05, 2002 12:12 PM | Comments (53)


Bush Administration
Business and Economy
Foreign Policy

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