Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

American corporations are expanding outside the United States to avoid high taxes

From Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

Walgreen, America’s venerable drug-store chain, is thinking the unthinkable: relocating to Europe. Not because it sees growth and opportunity there, but because of onerous taxes here in the U.S. It’s an ominous trend.

The Financial Times of London calls it “one of the largest tax inversions ever.” That is, a company seeking to avoid punitive taxes in one market by moving to another.

No doubt the FT is right. And after its recent $16 billion takeover of Swiss-based Alliance Boots, it would be easy for Walgreen to remake itself as a Swiss company.

If it did, the Democratic Party’s liberals would no doubt call Walgreen unpatriotic for wanting to lessen its tax burden. In fact, they are responsible for an economic environment so hostile to capital and investment that companies now find it intolerable.

[...]According to an analysis by UBS, Walgreen’s U.S. tax rate is 37.5% — compared with Alliance Boots’ rate in Europe of about 20%. That’s a huge gap, worth billions of dollars a year.

But it’s even worse than that. A recent OECD study says the “integrated tax rate” — taxes on capital and income — for U.S. companies is a nightmarish 67.8% vs. 43.7% for the OECD.

Many companies facing steep tax rates and insane regulations in the U.S. have had enough. They’re keeping their profits overseas. Last week, Senate Finance Committee chief Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, reported U.S. corporations now hold $2.1 trillion in earnings in overseas accounts — a massive amount, roughly equal to 12% of U.S. gross domestic product.

A total of 547 companies — including Apple, GE, Microsoft and Pfizer — have dramatically expanded their so-called foreign indefinitely reinvested earnings overseas, which let them avoid the punishing rates here at home.

[...]Not only are taxes too high, but also new laws such as Dodd-Frank and ObamaCare, a vast expansion of regulation, debt and the size of government, the federal takeover of entire industries, the bullying of Wall Street and demonization of CEOs, and forced CO2 cuts that will hammer manufacturers have made this the least pro-free market U.S. government in generations.

If you make it harder for businesses here to do business (higher taxes and burdensome regulations), then they will expand abroad instead, and in some cases, they will just move completely. How does that help create jobs here? It doesn’t.

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Why do corporations ship jobs overseas? What causes outsourcing of jobs?

World Corporate Tax Rates

World Corporate Tax Rates

Here is a news story from Yahoo News that explains the problem and the cause of the problem. (H/T Dad)

Excerpt:

Large U.S. companies boosted their offshore earnings by 15 percent last year to a record $1.9 trillion, avoiding hefty tax bills by keeping the profits abroad, according to a new report.

The overseas earnings stockpile has climbed by 70 percent over the past five years, said research firm Audit Analytics. Data in its report covers the Russell 3000 index of the largest U.S. corporations.

U.S.-based multinationals do not have to pay U.S. corporate income tax on foreign earnings as long as the earnings do not enter the United States. Accounting rules also let the companies avoid recognizing a tax expense if management intends to keep the earnings indefinitely reinvested overseas.

“It would probably be nice to have this money in our country being used in our economy, but at the moment we see it growing elsewhere,” said Don Whalen, general counsel and director of research at Audit Analytics.

Conglomerate General Electric Co (GE.N), had the most indefinitely reinvested overseas earnings, at about $108 billion, while drugmaker Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) was next with $73 billion, according to Audit Analytics.

The simple answer is that Americans believe that corporations need to pay high taxes and operate under burdensome regulations. This eats into their profits, making it harder for them to grow and expand. The plain truth is that it is easier for corporations to expand and hire in countries with lower taxes and fewer regulations. Besides, who wants to be wiped out by a nuisance lawsuit just because someone spills coffee on themselves and then refuses to take responsibility? The smart play is to just opt out completely, and that’s what many corporations do – earning higher profits in more business-friendly countries.

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Obama violates his own stimulus law by refusing to release status reports

The Weekly Standard reports.

Excerpt:

Have you heard much about President Obama’s $787,000,000,000 economic “stimulus” (now estimated to cost $831,000,000,000) lately?  In its last report, published in 2011, the president’s own Council of Economic Advisors released an estimate showing that, for every $317,000 in “stimulus” spending that had by then gone out the door, only one job had been created or saved.  Even in Washington, that’s not considered good bang for the buck.

Moreover, that was the fifth consecutive “stimulus” report that showed this number getting progressively worse.

Alas, that was the last report we’ve seen.  Never mind that Section 1513 of the “stimulus” legislation, which Obama spearheaded and signed into law, requires the executive branch to submit a new report every three months.  It reads:

“In consultation with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers shall submit quarterly reports to the Committees on Appropriations of the Senate and House of Representatives that detail the impact of programs funded through covered funds on employment, estimated economic growth, and other key economic indicators.”

[...]By now, [the Obama administration] was supposed to have released fourteen such reports.  It has released only eight.  The last one covered the period ending in June 2011.  That’s right — 2011.

With only 58.6 percent of Americans currently employed — down 2.4 percent from the time of Obama’s first inauguration — it’s not surprising that the Obama administration doesn’t really want to fulfill it legal responsibilities and release subsequent reports on its failed “stimulus.”  However, it hardly seems fair — to use one of Obama’s favorite words — that the rich and (extremely) powerful think that they can choose whether or not to abide by the laws they spearhead and sign, while the rest of us are forced to obey them.

I’m not surprised by this, because we all know that Democrats are the biggest tax cheats ever. It’s not surprising to me that they pass laws that they have no intention of following themselves, because they are hypocrites. The laws are meant to stop others from succeeding, but Democrats themselves always seem to be exempt. Just like the waivers that the big labor unions got from Obamacare. Poverty for thee, but not for me.\

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Twenty years of fiscal conservatism in Sweden: has it worked?

Map of Europe

Map of Europe

From Investors Business Daily, a story about about a nation that changed course – and won big.

Excerpt:

The turnaround has been driven in no small part by the election of Fredrik Reinfeldt as prime minister in 2006. He took office in October of that year and by January of 2007, tax-cutting had begun. The Reinfeldt government also cut welfare spending — a form of austerity — and began to deregulate the economy.

[...][A]s Finance Minister Anders Borg told the Spectator, the Reinfeldt government was simply continuing the last 20 years of reform.

[...]Sweden fell into recession in 2008 and 2009, as did many developed nations. But it’s pulled strongly out of the decline, posting GDP gains of 6.1% in 2010 and 3.9% last year, when it ranked at the top in Europe’s list of fastest-growing economies.

[...]Under Borg, Sweden handled the downturn in the most un-European way. “While most countries in Europe borrowed massively, Borg did not. Since becoming Sweden’s finance minister, his mission has been to pare back government. His ‘stimulus’ was a permanent tax cut,” Fraser Nelson wrote last month in the Spectator.

Borg strongly opposed the Keynesian solution, which the left continues to advance while it inveighs against an austerity that has yet to be implemented.

He also refused to resort to the trickery of a stimulus, instead cutting the taxes that he knew were hindering entrepreneurs from giving the economy the kick it needed.

The country needed innovators and capitalists — “the source of job creation,” says Borg — and he did what he had to, to attract new ones and to keep those already there from leaving.

During Sweden’s decline into a welfare state, it became, as Borg told the Spectator, “a textbook case of European economic sclerosis” punished by “very high taxes and huge regulatory burden.”

That lasted until the 1990s, when the nation realized it had to return to the market policies that had made it rich prior to the onset of its cradle-to-grave coddling.

How much further can Borg and Reinfeldt take their reforms? Will voters ask them to come back and complete the job?

After all, it’s not over. Though it continues to fall, Sweden’s government debt as a share of GDP is still too high at 38.4%. And while it’s dipped below 45% for the first time in decades, the country’s tax-to-GDP ratio is still far too steep.

Despite this unfinished business, Sweden is still moving in the right direction. We might be able to say that about America after the 2013 Inauguration Day. But we can’t say that now.

If liberals are so smart, why can’t they take time off from taxing, spending and buying votes, in order to look at countries that are having economic success? Isn’t it “smart policy” to do what works? Why listen to Hollywood celebrities and people with journalism degrees when we can just do what has been proven to work? It’s not like what we are doing now is working.

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Did Obama’s $800 billion dollar stimulus program stimulate the economy?

The numbers are in.

Excerpt:

Recall the original Obama economic team. It consisted of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and White House economists Lawrence Summers, Christina Romer, Austan Goolsbee, and Jared Bernstein. It was the Democrats’ Best and Brightest—but not one with a smidgen of executive experience in either the private or public sector. And into their hands was entrusted an $800 billion stimulus spending plan, a package whose details were fleshed out by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. What could go wrong?

Lots, it turns out. And Michael Grabell, a reporter for ProPublica, documents the many failings of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in “Money Well Spent? The Truth Behind the Trillion-Dollar Stimulus, the Biggest Economic Recovery Plan in History,” out this week. Rather than focus on questionable Keynesian economics behind the stimulus, Grabell focuses on its execution and management.

In reporting on the stimulus over three years, I traveled to 15 states, interviewed hundreds of people and read through tens of thousands of government documents and project reports. What I found is that the stimulus failed to live up to its promise not because it was too small (as those on the left argue) or because Keynesian economics is obsolete (as those on the right argue), but because it was poorly designed. Even advocates for a bigger stimulus need to acknowledge that their argument is really one about design and presentation.

Take the tax cut piece of the plan. Inspired by new research in behavioral economics, Team Obama constructed the $116 billion tax credit so it was “dribbled” out in paychecks at about $10 a week. Grabell:

Perhaps that would have worked if the tax cut had been substantial. But spread out in tiny increments, it did little to overcome the prevailing fear of losing a job, a home and years of retirement savings. Not only did Obama lose the political credit but also the consumer excitement that a large check would have provided.

Or how about the infrastructure spending. Grabell says it was beset by regulatory obstruction and union pandering:

The timing of the stimulus was poor to bring about the flood of construction projects everyone expected in the first year. States had to advertise the project to allow contractors to submit bids. They needed to review those bids and sign the contracts. Then, they had to go back to the U.S. Department of Transportation for the final OK. ..

Some projects in public housing, waterworks and home insulation remained paralyzed for six months to a year as short-staffed agencies reviewed Buy American waiver requests and calculated prevailing wages for weatherization work in every county in America.

In Michigan, human services officials estimated that 90% of the homes in line for weatherization work would need a historic preservation review. But as of late fall 2009, the office responsible had only two employees.

Public transit advocates expected a windfall for bus companies like New Flyer in St. Cloud, Minn. But the transit money took longer to get out the door because every grant had to be reviewed by the Labor Department to ensure that it wouldn’t have a negative impact on transit unions.

In short, Big Government screwed up the Big Spend. Biden said the stimulus would “literally drop kick us out of the recession.” But Grabell concludes that “the stimulus ultimately failed to do what America expected it to do — bring about a strong, sustainable recovery. The drop kick was shanked.”

Previously, I wrote about the $447 billion stimulus - son of stimulus. It was also a shank.

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