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Big Corporations Lobbying For Big Tax Breaks

As Congress tightens the national budget belt, big corporations are getting monster tax breaks, with the help of high paid lobbyists.

In this Jan. 26, 2006, file photo pigeons fly over the intersection of 17th and K streets in northwest Washington Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006. K Street has long been invoked as shorthand for moneyed lobbyists who ply influence in the city. (AP)

In this Jan. 26, 2006, file photo pigeons fly over the intersection of 17th and K streets in northwest Washington Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006. K Street has long been invoked as shorthand for moneyed lobbyists who ply influence in the city. (AP)

Tough times for the US federal budget.  Everybody knows that.  We’re “sequestering” spending right and left and talking about – talking about -raising taxes.

But for an amazingly big world of American businesses, all that is somebody else’s problem.  They’ve got special tax breaks – huge ones – written into law.  And as long as they keep feeding and stroking the right politicians, those monster tax breaks just keep coming.

Each has its rationale, or at least its backers.  But they add up to a big question.

This hour, On Point:  monster corporate tax breaks, and is this any way to run a country?

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Christopher Rowland, Washington bureau chief for the Boston Globe. Author of the article, “Tax Lobbyists Help Businesses Reap Windfalls.” (@globerowland)

David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, columnist at “taxanalysts.com.” Author of “The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use ‘Plain English’ to Rob You Blind.”(@DavidCayJ)

Closing Segment on Cyprus

Peter Spiegel, Brussels bureau chief for the Financial Times. (@spiegelpeter)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Boston Globe “Lobbying for special tax treatment produced a spectacular return for Whirlpool Corp., courtesy of Congress and those who pay the bills, the American taxpayers. By investing just $1.8 million over two years in payments for Washington lobbyists, Whirlpool secured the renewal of lucrative energy tax credits for making high-efficiency appliances that it estimates will be worth a combined $120 million for 2012 and 2013. Such breaks have helped the company keep its total tax expenses below zero in recent years.”

The New York Times “At the root of the bitter semantic back-and-forth is a simple truth: every tax expenditure — and there are scores of them, used to encourage employers to provide their workers with health care, to make houses more energy-efficient, to aid timber cutters and much more — benefits a certain group of taxpayers or a specific industry. And nobody wants to give up anything.”

The Huffington Post “It was 2004 and Congress was considering a law that would provide substantial tax breaks to nearly any company engaged in manufacturing. Though this term conjured images of textile factories and steel mills, Starbucks argued that the definition of manufacturing should — for purposes of calculating its tax bill — be stretched to include the roasting of coffee beans.”

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