What do conglomerates that pay no corporate income taxes do with all that extra dough? A new report from Public Campaign offers an answer: they pay millions to lobbyists to ensure they pay no taxes in the future. The corporations still come out ahead, their execs pocket obscene levels of “compensation” and the lobbyists get a windfall—a win-win for everybody, except, of course, the American worker and taxpayer.
The report, “For Hire: Lobbyists or the 99%? How Corporations Pay More for Lobbyists Than in Taxes,” details the lobbying expenditures, executive pay, U.S. profits and tax profiles of 30 top corporations between 2008 and 2010, finding that the companies—whose combined profits amount to $164 billion—received combined tax rebates of nearly $11 billion, some of which they spent this way, according to the report:
- Altogether, these companies spent nearly half a billion dollars ($476 million) over three years to lobby Congress—that’s about $400,000 each day, including weekends.
- In the three-year period beginning in 2009 through most of 2011, these large firms spent more than $22 million altogether on federal campaigns.
- These corporations also have spent lavishly on compensation for their top executives ($706 million altogether in 2010).
Among the top offenders on the lobbying front are—surprise!—the very same companies we’ve highlighted in our recent reporting on corporate tax-dodgers, including Verizon (whose workers toil without a contract), Dupont (a major polluter), Boeing (which tried to force a geographic poison pill down the throats of unionized workers) and Pepco Holdings (a major utility provider).
But General Electric stands far above even this crowd, receiving a tax rebate of $4.7 billion, and spending $84 million on lobbyists.
Among the tax-dodging Fortune 500 companies examined by Public Campaign, Verizon and Boeing led the field in layoffs during the same three-year period, 2008-2010, despite posting record profits $32.5 billion and $9.7 billion, respectively. (And that doesn’t even account for the fact that during the third quarter of this year, Verizon reported nearly doubling its previous quarterly profit.) Earlier this week, Verizon fired 40 workers who took part in last summer’s strike against the company.
Of course, the lobbying conducted on behalf of these corporations isn’t limited to tax policy: These lobbyists are hard at work in Congress trying to undermine labor law and financial and environmental regulations, as well. Not that the lobbied need to be reminded of that combined $22 million spent on election campaigns.
The Public Campaign report builds on the work of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) and Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), taking the data from a joint report issued by the two groups, and marrying it to research on corporate lobbying conducted by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).
The full Public Campaign report, “For Hire: Lobbyists or the 99%? How Corporations Pay More for Lobbyists Than in Taxes,” can be downloaded here in a PDF file.