From a rally in Scranton, Pa., Sunday, as reported in a “Morning Edition” segment on NPR today, “Clintons Campaign for Obama in Scranton,” a shouting Senator Biden (.mp3): 

It is unpatriotic to take $100 billion offshore and not pay your taxes. That is UNPATRIOTIC! So I don’t need a lecture on patriotism. I’ve had it to here!

Senator Obama has cosponsored legislation, S. 1945, to designate “Patriot Employers.” Introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and cosponsored by a leading trade opponent and labor ally, Sen. Sherrod Brown, the bill has been summarized by CRS:

Patriot Employers Act – Amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow a taxpayer certified as a Patriot employer by the Secretary of the Treasury a tax credit for one percent of such employer’s taxable income. Defines a “Patriot employer” as any taxpayer who: (1) maintains its headquarters in the United States; (2) pays at least 60% of the health care premiums of its employees; (3) observes a policy requiring neutrality in employee organizing drives; (4) maintains or increases the number of its full-time workers in the United States relative to its full-time workers outside of the United States; (5) provides full differential salary and insurance benefits for all National Guard and Reserve employees called to active duty; and (6) provides its employees with a certain level of compensation and retirement benefits

In a post last February, we commented on a speech by Senator Brown where avoided talking about some of the tough issues raised by the idea of “Patriot Corporations”: ” We would have liked to hear how following a set of government dictates about business practices, wages and benefits, labor-management relations and investment plans should qualify a company as a ‘Patriot Corporation,’ eligible for income tax breaks. And it would have been very interesting to hear Sen. Brown’s thoughts about designating a company a ‘Not a Patriot Corporation.’”

Well, at least we now have Senator Biden’s thoughts on the matter. If a U.S.-based corporation, i.e., a business operating in the global economy to serve customers all over the world, reacts to the high corporate tax rate and U.S. tax code’s perverse incentives  by keeping some of its earnings offshore, then it is an “Unpatriotic Corporation.”

We appreciate Senator Biden making the implicit so explicit: Some U.S. businesses and executives are unpatriotic and we will use the tax code to punish them while at the same time excoriating them from the White House’s bully pulpit.

Got it.

 

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