Trump, Granting Lobbyist Demands, Quietly Handed Billions More in Tax Breaks to Huge Corporations: Report
“Trump is the most corrupt president in history, and here’s the latest example of how that corruption helps giant corporations.”
By Jake Johnson
A “disturbing” New York Times story published Monday detailed how President Donald Trump’s Treasury Department, led by former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Mnuchin, has quietly weakened elements of the 2017 tax law in recent months to make it even friendlier to wealthy individuals and massive corporations.
Lobbyists representing some of the largest corporations in the world, the Times reported, targeted two provisions in the original 2017 law designed to bring in hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue from companies that had been dodging U.S. taxes by stashing profits overseas.
“A tax law already disproportionately benefiting the richest of the rich has become an even greater windfall for the world’s largest companies and their shareholders.”
—David Enrich, New York Times
“The corporate lobbying campaign was a resounding success,” the Times noted. “Through a series of obscure regulations, the Treasury carved out exceptions to the law that mean many leading American and foreign companies will owe little or nothing in new taxes on offshore profits… Companies were effectively let off the hook for tens if not hundreds of billions of taxes that they would have been required to pay.”
The two provisions are known by the acronyms BEAT (base erosion and anti-abuse tax) and GILTI (global intangible low-taxed income). Shortly after Trump signed the $1.5 trillion tax bill—which slashed the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%—lobbyists from major American companies like Bank of America and General Electric as well as foreign banks swarmed the White House in an effort to gut the BEAT and GILTI taxes.
Trump’s Treasury Department largely granted the lobbyists’ wishes, turning what was already a massive corporate handout into an even more generous gift to big companies and banks.
The Times reported:
The Organization for International Investment—a powerful trade group for foreign multinationals like the Swiss food company Nestlé and the Dutch chemical maker LyondellBasell—objected to a Treasury proposal that would have prevented companies from using a complex currency-accounting maneuver to avoid the BEAT… This month, the Treasury issued the final version of some of the BEAT regulations. The Organization for International Investment got what it wanted.
The lobbying surrounding the GILTI was equally intense—and, once again, large companies won valuable concessions… News Corporation, Liberty Mutual, Anheuser-Busch, Comcast and P.&G. wrote letters or dispatched lobbyists to argue for the high-tax exception. After months of meetings with lobbyists, the Treasury announced in June 2019 that it was creating a version of the exception that the companies had sought.
David Enrich, financial editor for the Times, said the newspaper’s estimate that major companies received tens of billions of dollars in additional tax breaks thanks to the Treasury Department is “conservative.”
“The cumulative effect,” said Enrich, “is that a tax law already disproportionately benefiting the richest of the rich has become an even greater windfall for the world’s largest companies and their shareholders.”
The ridiculous thing: companies appear to not be properly disclosing what they’re paying under these new taxes. Which makes it very hard to see how big this bonanza really is. Our estimate of tens of billions in savings is conservative. By @uwsgeezer https://t.co/Ws3UiWMG8v
— David Enrich (@davidenrich) December 30, 2019
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted in response to the Times story that “Trump is the most corrupt president in history, and here’s the latest example of how that corruption helps giant corporations at the expense of small businesses and working families.”
“Too many corporations are cashing in on all the benefits of America while skipping out on the bill,” said Warren. “Companies that make massive profits shouldn’t be paying less in federal income taxes than working families.”
As Hunter Blair of the Economic Policy Institute noted on the two-year anniversary of the passage of Trump’s tax cuts last week, “the $4,000 annual boost to average incomes that the White House Council of Economic Advisers promised to working families because of the [Tax Cuts and Jobs Act] did not—and will not—happen.”
“While it’s been worse-than-advertised for working families,” Blair wrote, “the TCJA has been an even bigger boon to large corporations and rich households.”licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
Hundreds of Thousands Take to Streets in All 50 States With a Simple Message for Congress: ‘Time to Impeach and Remove Trump’
“This is what democracy looks like.”
By Jake Johnson
Hours before the expected House vote on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets across the United States Tuesday night to show Congress that there is a “nationwide movement” behind the effort to hold the president accountable by removing him from office.
At more than 600 locations across the country, from Arkansas to Colorado to New York, massive crowds gathered to demand that Trump be impeached and removed for abusing the power of the presidency and other offenses.
“Trump did it. He admitted to it. The House confirmed it. And now he’ll be impeached for it,” Ezra Levin, co-executive director of Indivisible, said in a statement late Tuesday. “After tomorrow’s House vote, Indivisible will focus our grassroots power on ensuring Trump’s Senate allies don’t get away with a sham trial and conspiratorial cover-up.”
MoveOn, which joined Indivisible and other advocacy groups in organizing the demonstrations, tweeted that “across the nation tonight, hundreds of thousands said with one voice that it’s time to impeach and remove Trump.”
— liz nagy (@liznagy) December 17, 2019
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) December 18, 2019
This is what democracy looks like in deep red #PrescottAZ!!
Our voices matter and we will be heard. #empowered
— Prescott Indivisible (@IndivisPrescott) December 18, 2019
"It is #ImpeachmentEve. Protests in favor of impeaching Donald Trump were held all over the country tonight.
— Alexis Goldstein 🏳️🌈 (@alexisgoldstein) December 18, 2019
According to an analysis by the Washington Post, the Democrat-controlled House has enough votes to approve the articles of impeachment against Trump without any Republican support.
“Trump will be impeached if the House passes one or both articles by a simple majority (That means House Democrats need 216 votes given the current makeup of the House—there are a handful of vacant seats),” the Post reported Tuesday night. “A majority of House lawmakers have indicated their support for both articles of impeachment.”
Ahead of his likely impeachment, Trump on Tuesday lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a letter critics described as “unhinged” and “deranged.”
“It could not be more clear that Trump is a clear and present danger to our democracy—and that he must be impeached and removed,” Sean Eldridge, founder of advocacy group Stand Up America, said in a statement. “That’s why hundreds of thousands of Americans are taking to the streets… to demand Congress remove him from office.”licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Legal Scholar Points to Sondland Testimony as ‘Most Chilling’ Evidence Trump Used Power of Office for Private ‘Political Benefit’
“A candidate for president should resist foreign interference in our elections, not demand it. If we are to keep faith with the Constitution and our Republic, President Trump must be held to account.”
By Jake Johnson
Stanford Law School professor Pamela Karlan on Wednesday told House impeachment investigators that the “most chilling” evidence that President Donald Trump was pursuing his own political gain in Ukraine came from the November 20 testimony of Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union.
“The country’s leading constitutional scholars testified under oath that Trump’s conduct meets the constitutional standard for impeachment.”
Karlan, one of four legal scholars to testify during Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing, said she spent her entire Thanksgiving break reading transcripts from previous public impeachment hearings in the House Intelligence Committee.
The “most striking” line from the witness testimony, said Karlan, was Sondland’s claim that Trump did not care whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky actually opened an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.
“He had to announce the investigations. He didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it,” Sondland told impeachment investigators last month. “The only thing I heard from [Trump’s personal attorney Rudy] Giuliani or otherwise was that they had to be announced in some form, and that form kept changing.”
Karlan told the Judiciary Committee that Sondland’s testimony undermines the Republican narrative that Trump’s behavior toward Ukraine stemmed from geniune concerns about corruption.
“It is only in the president’s interest, it is not the national interest, that a particular president be elected or be defeated at the next election. The Constitution is indifferent to that.”
—Pamela Karlan, Stanford Law School
“What I took that to mean was this was not about whether Vice President Biden actually committed corruption or not,” Karlan said. “This was about injuring somebody who the president thinks of as a particularly hard opponent. That’s for his private beliefs.”
“There’s a lot to suggest here that this was about political benefit,” Karlan added. “What the Constitution cares about is that we have free elections. And so it is only in the president’s interest, it is not the national interest, that a particular president be elected or be defeated at the next election. The Constitution is indifferent to that.”
Three of the four legal scholars who testified Wednesday, including Karlan, said they believe Trump committed the “impeachable high crime and misdemeanor of abuse of power” by soliciting Ukrainian interference in the 2020 presidential election.
The lone outlier was George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley, who was called to testify by Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.
Eisen: “Did President Trump commit the impeachable high crime and misdemeanor of abuse of power…?”
Feldman, Karlan, Gerhardt all say he did. pic.twitter.com/ZFmWD7pCq5
— House Judiciary Dems (@HouseJudiciary) December 4, 2019
During her opening remarks (pdf), Karlan said the evidence that has emerged from the House impeachment inquiry into Trump “reveals a president who used the powers of his office to demand that a foreign government participate in undermining a competing candidate for the presidency.”
“And it shows a president who did this to strong-arm a foreign leader into smearing one of the president’s opponents in our ongoing election season,” said Karlan. “Put simply, a candidate for president should resist foreign interference in our elections, not demand it. If we are to keep faith with the Constitution and our Republic, President Trump must be held to account.”
Karlan asked viewers to “imagine living in a part of Louisiana or Texas that’s prone to devastating hurricanes and flooding.”
“What would you think if you lived there and your governor asked for a meeting with the president to discuss getting disaster aid that Congress has provided for?” Karlan asked. “What would you think if that president said, ‘I would like you to do us a favor? I’ll meet with you, and send the disaster relief, once you brand my opponent a criminal.'”
“Put simply, a president should resist foreign interference in our elections, not demand it.”
Boom. If you have not watched Pam Karlan’s brilliant opening statement from this morning, please watch the whole thing now. So appreciate her focus on the right to vote & our elections. pic.twitter.com/6XkIFauX3K
— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) December 4, 2019
Impeachment HQ, a joint project of progressive groups Stand Up America and Defend the Republic, said in an email to supporters Wednesday that the first impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary Committee “has been absolutely devastating for Donald Trump.”
“The country’s leading constitutional scholars testified under oath that Trump’s conduct meets the constitutional standard for impeachment,” the groups said.licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.