General Electric, the nation’s largest corporation, had a very good year in 2010. The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.
GE has become a poster child for a corrupt system of government that provides targeted benefits to preferred companies.
Jeff Immelt, GE Chairman:
[W]e are going through more than a cycle. The global economy, and capitalism, will be ‘reset’ in several important ways. The interaction between government and business will change forever. In a reset economy, the government will be a regulator; and also an industry policy champion, a financier, and a key partner.
How do you feel about a company that's the Obama administration's partner so that it can avoid taxes on billions in profits? I have no fondness for taxes or for the absurdly high taxes that US corporations pay compared to the rest of the world, but I do believe in fairness and a level playing field.
This is how GE plays the game
The [tax]shelters are so crucial to G.E.’s bottom line that when Congress threatened to let the most lucrative one expire in 2008, the company came out in full force. G.E. officials worked with dozens of financial companies to send letters to Congress and hired a bevy of outside lobbyists.
The head of its tax team, Mr. Samuels, met with Representative Charles B. Rangel, then chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which would decide the fate of the tax break. As he sat with the committee’s staff members outside Mr. Rangel’s office, Mr. Samuels dropped to his knee and pretended to beg for the provision to be extended — a flourish made in jest, he said through a spokeswoman.
That day, Mr. Rangel reversed his opposition to the tax break, according to other Democrats on the committee.
The following month, Mr. Rangel and Mr. Immelt stood together at St. Nicholas Park in Harlem as G.E. announced that its foundation had awarded $30 million to New York City schools, including $11 million to benefit various schools in Mr. Rangel’s district.
We’re sure there was no quid pro quo between Rangel and Immelt. That would be bribery, which is illegal. [sarcasm off].
Jeff Immelt presided over a GE whose stock price plunged 90% and a dividend cut of 70%. He is not only corrupt, he's incompetent.