Citizens United, a long but necessary fight

It is but one of many fights needed to win back our democracy

By Jack E. Lohman

The basic problem is that money works. Greed at the top and shared with the politicians making or unmaking the laws is killing America. Some call it shared booty, but it is hard not to call them political bribes.

We need non-conflicted leaders; not more of the same. Seriously, how can we help countries convert to a democracy when our own politicians are giving ours away to the Fat Cats that fund their elections?

Indeed we must fight Citizens United. It is a stupid Supreme Court decision that gives corporations even more power than they’ve ever had. But if corporations want to be people, let’s TAX them like they are people! (That’ll change their minds in a quick minute. :-))

Certainly if we muzzle corporations, they’ll just give bonuses to the executives and the CEOs will pay off the politicians instead. And if we prevent money from corporations they’ll just give bonuses to be spent on outside issue ads promoting the corrupt politicians.

So we need several other changes… and quick!

a) Term limits: Like, to *ONE* term!!! ONE 12 year term for senate and ONE 8 year term for House/Assembly and ONE 8 year term for president or governor. It is the 2nd term “need for money” that has corrupted the system, and we’ve learned from the Middle East that lifelong terms are ineffective and corrupting. (But ensure a federal recall ability in the event a leaker gets in.)

b) Close the revolving door: Once in congress, even as a staffer, prohibit lobbying for five years thereafter. And above all, prohibit lobbying with cash in hand.

c) Disclosure: We must publicly fund a website disclosing the votes that every member makes (see votesmart.org), though politicians can do a lot of bad things in the background to block good legislation, and this must be disclosed as well.

d) Corporate reform: Like, giving shareholders (owners) a binding vote on whether they want profits to be sent to politicians and whether they want their corporation to engage in politicking at all. And giving them the final vote on CEO wages and benefits.

e) Corporate taxes: At the very least prohibit tax write-offs of any pay/benefit package over $1m (otherwise the taxpayers essentially fund pay packages). But even better is to make corporates taxes zero and compensate by increasing personal taxes for the wealthy to the old 50% level.

Yea, I know. But tax the hell out of companies and they’ll just pass the taxes to the consumer or offshore even more of their jobs. We have given them a choice: either bring your profits home so they can be taxed, or invest them overseas where they are not taxed. Absolutely stupid! We need ZERO taxes on corporations to encourage them to bring jobs back home, yet increase personal taxes on the wealthy to compensate!

f) Scheduled import tariffs: NAFTA and CAFTA be damned, they are why we are here in the first place. Schedule import tariffs for 2013 and give corporations a chance to bring jobs back home, or face higher prices if they don’t. Those tariffs can help fund our unemployment costs. And how about tying the import tariff to some ratio of their average hourly pay to ours??? What could be fairer?

g) Health care reform: No, not ObamaCare. Germany has an excellent two-tier system that provides VW services to 90% of the public and is taxpayer-funded with required employer contributions. But about 10% of Fat Cats have opted out and bought private policies that allow private rooms in private hospitals with celebrity doctors and private nurses. Most doctors do not make the kind of money in Germany that they do here. On the other hand, if you qualify for Medical School your education is free in Germany.

h) And the biggie: Get our politicians off the payroll of the corporate Fat Cats with public funding of campaigns. Only then will they vote for laws that benefit the taxpayers and our nation’s jobs. I do not want my politician determining this nation’s energy direction when he is on the payroll of nuclear, coal, oil, or clean energy sources. I want him working for ME!

So now I know what “jobless recovery” means. Corporate profits are at an all-time high, CEO salaries and bonuses are up by 30%, and the little guy is still jobless and broke. All thanks to our bought-and-paid-for politicians. Thus item (h) is the most critical of all.

This is clearly not intended to give labor a clean bill; wages are too high in comparison to China and India. Leaders asked for a lot and they got it, all while jobs went elsewhere. The pendulum has swung the other way and we must get real about wages (admittedly, executive wages as well).

6 Responses to Citizens United, a long but necessary fight

  1. Gregg says:

    After watching the “look at the world’s new corporate tax havens” segment on 60 Minutes last night, I found it pretty interesting that the CEOs made their case for low corporate taxes based on remaining competitive. However, I don’t like the deceptive methods they use to achieve their goals by setting up faux offices in Switzerland. I also don’t think they should have it both ways with Citizen United giving them the status of “personhood”, but not taxing them like an individual.

  2. I know how you feel Gregg. And for those interested here is the 60 Minutes link. But we really have to ask “why are we taxing corporations in the first place?” We should instead fix our system to benefit corporations, and tax the shareholders and executives instead. But we should compensate the government coffers by increasing personal taxes for the wealthy to the old 50% level.

    Will the Fat Cats then leave the state? Not if the corporations are then penalized by the amount their top 5 employees would otherwise have had to pay. We CAN find a way to prevent loopholes, and we must. But we need honest politicians to do so.

    Corporations, incidentally, pass on to the public the taxes they do pay, when we reimburse them at the cash register. Or they outsource their jobs to countries with lower taxes, as 60 Minutes describes. But we have given corporations a choice: either bring your profits home so they can be taxed, or invest them overseas where they are not taxed. Absolutely stupid!

    But all of this highlights the main problem: our corrupt political system. Politicians are PAID to spend taxpayer money and reduce taxes for businesses and the wealthy, and THAT is what we need to fix. We need public funding of campaigns, and then the politicians will make good economic decisions that benefit the taxpayers over their pocketbooks.

    • James Lupori says:

      Mr. Lohman – We tax corporations and businesses because if we didn’t all the fundamental carrying costs of keeping the facilities, infrastructure, employee wear and tear, etc. on society as a whole would fall on citizens.

      Isn’t WalMart famous for building its stores just outside certain jurisdictions so that they wouldn’t have to pay taxes and then the small communities (who are barely holding on) must pay the “carrying costs” of the Walmart store (traffic, use of roads, infrastructure, etc.)?

      I’m sincerely curious.

      By the way, nice blog!

      • Thanks James. But all of corporate taxes CURRENTLY DO fall on society as a whole, in a very regressive manner. Plus we pay the cost of lost jobs when they relocate or outsource to other countries.

        We are playing a cat and mouse game, and the corporations hold all the cards (and the politicians too). In my view we should only tax the personal incomes of the Fat Cats, and that should include dividends and range up to the 50% level we once had.

  3. Gregg says:

    I agree that corporations pass on their costs to their customers by simply raising their prices, but in a competitive market, they can’t always just raise their price or they will lose customers. I also know it gets more complicated by the fact that we are in a global market. And if they can’t raise their prices to cover increased costs, they will try to decrease costs, which might include moving operations overseas. However, I’m not comfortable with eliminating corporate taxes. Don’t corporations benefit uniquely from government services? Don’t they benefit from an educated workforce, good roads, and a strong defense? In fact one of the things that really bugs me, is some of these corporations moving significant parts of the operations to Ireland can do so knowing the USA has spent trillions disproportionally defending the rest of the free world and especially Europe. It’s time the US start closing some of these international bases and ask our partners to spend more for their defense. Maybe the UK/Ireland wouldn’t be so generous with their corporate tax rates to multinational corporations.

  4. Gregg, in a competitive market they will all do the same; raise prices or outsource. Until we have a global fix on wages and taxes you best treat corporations carefully. How many more must we lose to foreign countries before we get the message?

    And yes to all of the above; but they don’t give a damn because they get all of the same in Ireland or wherever. TRIPLE their tax rate and they’ll do the same: pass the costs on or leave the country. Perhaps (f) above will solve that but get politicians to go for it when they are funded by the very corporations that we are battling.

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