Moral Low Ground



General Electric (GE) corporation earned $14,200,000,000 in profits in 2010, but for the second year in a row paid absolutely no federal taxes. GE, which was a strong supporter of President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, was rewarded when the company’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, was hired to join the Obama administration as chairman of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Immelt knows all about jobs– under his stewardship, GE laid off 21,000 American workers and closed 20 factories. According to ABC News, more than half of the company’s workforce is now located outside of the United States. His selection to head the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness is nothing short of shocking.

President Obama has been an outspoken advocate of corporate tax reform. He believes that companies pay too much. “Simply eliminate loopholes, treat everybody fairly,” he said last month.

GE’s ability to exploit tax loopholes to its advantage is the stuff of legend. As stated, the company earned $14.2 billion in profits last year. Nine billion of that amount was made outside the US, exempting the company from any federal tax liability. GE actually got a $3.2 billion tax benefit, ABC News says.

Perhaps more importantly, GE, the world’s largest industrial corporation, leads all corporations in spending on lobbying Washington for favorable legislation and policies. The company has spent more than $238 million over the last 12 years on lobbying.

GE issued a statement saying the company “pays what it owes under the law and is scrupulous about its compliance with tax obligations in all jurisdictions.” As for President Obama, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama is “bothered” that a company could get away with paying no tax. But he wouldn’t discuss GE specifically.

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  1. Liz Arnone via FacebookMarch 25, 2011 at 10:52 pmReply

    Imagine what their taxes could do for us?

    • Brett WilkinsMarch 27, 2011 at 5:38 pmReplyAuthor

      Imagine is what we’ll have to do, for I do not see them paying up any time soon!

  2. Brigitte Tidwell via FacebookMarch 26, 2011 at 2:19 amReply

    Generalizations are risky.

    • Brett WilkinsMarch 27, 2011 at 5:38 pmReplyAuthor

      And what generalizations do you speak of?

  3. HiluminatiMarch 26, 2011 at 7:30 pmReply

    Welcome to the new world order!

  4. JpJune 5, 2011 at 10:37 pmReply

    With a 133,000 domestic employees, GE provides nearly 3 billion in payroll taxes, provides them with a living wage average of $60k per employee and keeps them off the unemployment line, which would cost us $266 million dollars a month. It pays to have profitable domestic companies and I don’t believe as an employer entity, they should be taxed a dime. It just encourages them to look elsewhere for labor.

    • KiffJune 8, 2011 at 1:53 amReply

      That seems like the kind of response their PR consultants have on hand for every time GE’s taxes becomes a subject of discussion.

      Sure GE hires a miniscule percentage of the nation’s population, so they’ve done their part as one of the oldest and largest entities around. Come on! Anything can be made to take on a positive shine if selectively described, for example: my poop is fertile, heavily scented and loaded with familiar bacteria.

      When entities as large and as firmly established as GE have no moral misgivings about shifting their operations to a region that provides cheaper labor and consequently enforces sub-par human rights standards, they should be taxed like the British middle income group (not a reflection of the moral standards of the British middle income group, but a sympathetic reference).

    • JeffSeptember 8, 2011 at 10:40 amReply

      Having 133,000 domestic employees leaves 167,000 GE employees working outside the US. GE is paying corporate taxes and employing workers in those countries. With your argument GE should have left those countries because of tax costs. And yet they did not.
      Why then, did they stay? And why does GE not pay their fair share tax wise here in the US as they do abroad?

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