Should we penalize businesses that send jobs offshore? I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d forgotten about President Obama’s persistent efforts to do just that. Jim Tankersley reminds us:
He called to end tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs, to cut taxes for domestic manufacturers and to levy a minimum tax on multinational corporations….Obama has included changes to the tax code, meant to penalize companies that move jobs overseas and boost those that invest in America, in every budget he submitted to Congress since 2009. Since 2012, he has repeatedly proposed an “insourcing” tax credit and eliminating deductions for moving expenses incurred in shipping jobs abroad.
Congress ignored nearly all those proposals….Since 2010, Obama has also proposed several steps meant to discourage so-called corporate inversions, which is the practice of companies moving their headquarters out of the United States in order to avoid corporate taxes. When his Treasury Department moved to crack down on that practice this year, Republicans howled.
But now things are different:
When Trump cajoled Indiana manufacturer Carrier into canceling part of its plans to ship jobs to Mexico last week, in part by offering a state tax incentive package to the company, House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed criticism of Trump’s efforts. “I’m pretty happy that we’re keeping jobs in America, aren’t you?” he said.
….Republicans and business lobbyists have long said the best way to end inversions and reduce outsourcing is to cut corporate taxes….Conservatives, business groups and even financial markets appear optimistic that Trump will deliver on that rate cut, then abandon the trade threats.
Will concern for the working class finally outweigh concern for put-upon American multinational corporations? It never did while Obama was president, and there’s no special reason to think it will now.
It does make me wonder, though. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that, but why didn’t Hillary Clinton make this stuff into a major campaign issue? It would have helped her against both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, but she barely ever mentioned these kinds of reforms. Odd.