Now Overseas Profits are Bad, Too?

By September 8, 2010Economy, Taxation

In his full-bore populist speech in Cleveland today, President Obama repeated the now all-too familiar line about tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.

And then he added something new.

This week, I proposed some additional steps to grow the economy and help businesses spur hiring. One of the keys to job creation is to encourage companies to invest more in the United States. But for years, our tax code has actually given billions of dollars in tax breaks that encourage companies to create jobs and profits in other countries.

I want to change that. I want to change that. [applause]

So now it’s bad to create profits overseas?

A reminder from a recent NAM Key Vote letter:

An estimated 22 million people in the United States – more than 19 percent of the private sector workforce and 53 percent of all manufacturing employees – are employed by companies with operations overseas. …Some of the proposed tax increases, which are mischaracterized as closing tax loopholes, actually represent significant changes to pro-growth tax policy supported by Congress and the Administration.

Which raises a larger point. Save perhaps for the familiar R&D tax credit, these new, large-scale tax policy proposals that the President rolled out this week — with just a month or so left before Congress leaves town again — cannot be adopted in isolation. Their impact extends throughout the tax code, changes that require serious examination for their impact on businesses, taxpayers as well as their potential unintended consequences.

Here’s the most detailed presentation on the President’s proposals we’ve seen at, provided by Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer at the White House blog, “Rebuilding Our Economy to Work for Middle Class Americans Again“:

  1. Rebuild America’s roads, bridges and runways. The President is calling for a bold effort to renew and expand our transportation infrastructure – in a plan that combines a long-term vision for the future with new investments. A significant portion of the new investments would be front-loaded in the first year. Some tangible accomplishments of this effort include: Rebuilding 150,000 miles of roads – renewing our commitment to the backbone of our transportation system; constructing and maintaining 4,000 miles of rail – enough to go coast-to-coast; and rehabilitating or reconstructing 150 miles of runway – while putting in place a NextGen system that will reduce travel time and delays. Learn more in the White House fact sheet (pdf).
  2. Expand, simplify and make permanent the R&D tax credit. The President is proposing to expand, simplify, and permanently extend the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit. This is a win-win—encouraging companies to create good jobs in America now and to make investments that will pay off with stronger economic growth in the future. The President’s proposal to increase the simplified R&D credit to 17 percent would represent the largest increase in this tax benefit on recordLearn more in the White House fact sheet (pdf).
  3. Accelerate business investment to promote job creation. The President is proposing to jump-start private investment and job creation by allowing companies to fully deduct qualified capital investments through the end of 2011. This measure would provide tax incentives for businesses to invest in the United States when our economy needs it most, which should both help create jobs now and expand the capital stock to support future growth. This unprecedented step would be the largest temporary investment incentive in American history. Learn more in the White House fact sheet (pdf).

And that’s it.

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