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The Weekly Fix: Double Standard

The fix is in. Did you know, corporations like General Electric Co. (GE) spend more money on lobbyists than they pay in taxes?

The federal government currently taxes corporations at 35 percent. While many argue the rate is too high, you don’t hear companies like GE complaining about it. That’s because they aren’t paying it.

Over the past 15 years, GE’s federal income tax rate averaged only 5.2 percent. General Electric paid no federal taxes in 2010, despite earning $5.1 billion in U.S. profits. Instead, the company claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

Meanwhile, GE executives awarded themselves more than $75 million in compensation and paid lobbyists a total of $39 million that same year- all while laying off their own employees.

How was this possible? It was an inside job. General Electric’s tax planning team includes former employees from the Treasury, IRS, and congressional tax-writing committees. GE doesn’t have a tax compliance team, it has a tax defiance team.

This is how the revolving door of power works in Washington. Entry-level staffers move to our nation’s capital and work as “public servants” for a few years. They learn the rules of the game, then cash out in the private sector to help lobbying firms and corporations like General Electric manipulate the system.

And the door spins ‘round and ‘round ...

No wonder Fortune 500 companies are so quiet on the sidelines while grassroots America fights to reform the tax code. They’ve already cut a deal behind closed doors.

With a Republican-led Congress and White House, there is a serious opportunity for tax and welfare reform in 2018. It’s time to finally level the playing field. Any serious GOP entitlement reform effort must begin with corporate welfare reform.

Everyday families can’t afford entire teams of lawyers and lobbyists dedicated to avoiding taxes. We work hard, and play by the rules. Political insiders and corporate America should do the same.

The American people aren’t being heard by government because the game is rigged. Washington isn’t broken. It’s “fixed.”