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Monday, July 04, 2011

Paul Krugman: Corporate Cash Con

Ideas that serve those in power persist long past their expiration date:

Corporate Cash Con, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Watching the evolution of economic discussion in Washington over the past couple of years has been a disheartening experience...; with stunning speed, the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis have been forgotten, and the very ideas that got us into the crisis — regulation is always bad, what’s good for the bankers is good for America, tax cuts are the universal elixir — have regained their hold.
And now trickle-down economics — specifically, the idea that anything that increases corporate profits is good for the economy — is making a comeback ... and even some Democrats are buying into it.
What am I talking about? Consider first the arguments Republicans are using to defend outrageous tax loopholes. How can people simultaneously demand savage cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and defend special tax breaks favoring hedge fund managers and owners of corporate jets?
Well,... a spokesman for Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, told Greg Sargent of The Washington Post ... that anything that leaves more money in the hands of corporations will mean more jobs. That is, it’s pure trickle-down.
And then there’s the repatriation issue.
U.S. corporations are supposed to pay taxes on the profits of their overseas subsidiaries — but only when those profits are transferred back to the parent company. Now there’s a move afoot — driven, of course, by a major lobbying campaign — to offer an amnesty under which companies could move funds back while paying hardly any taxes. And even some Democrats are supporting this idea, claiming that it would create jobs.
As opponents of this plan point out, we’ve already seen this movie: A similar tax holiday was offered in 2004, with a similar sales pitch. And it was a total failure. ... And this time around the circumstances are even worse. Think about it:... it’s widely understood that corporations are already sitting on large amounts of cash that they aren’t investing in their own businesses..., why would giving them a tax break that adds to this pile of cash do anything to accelerate recovery?
It wouldn’t, of course; claims that a corporate tax holiday would create jobs, or that ending the tax break for corporate jets would destroy jobs, are nonsense.
So here’s what you should answer to anyone defending big giveaways to corporations: Lack of corporate cash is not the problem facing America. Big business already has the money it needs to expand; what it lacks is a reason to expand with consumers still on the ropes and the government slashing spending.
What our economy needs is direct job creation by the government and mortgage-debt relief for stressed consumers. What it very much does not need is a transfer of billions of dollars to corporations that have no intention of hiring anyone except more lobbyists.

    Posted by on Monday, July 4, 2011 at 12:24 AM in Economics | Permalink  Comments (55)


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