Romney: Corporations Are People, Too!
The Twitterverse and the Democratic National Committee are having a field day with Mitt Romney's declaration that "Corporations are people, my friend."
The Twitterverse and the Democratic National Committee are having a field day with Mitt Romney’s declaration that “Corporations are people, my friend.”
Greg Sargent has the transcript:
ROMNEY: We have to make sure that the promises we make — and Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare — are promises we can keep. And there are various ways of doing that. One is, we could raise taxes on people.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Corporations!
ROMNEY: Corporations are people, my friend. We can raise taxes on —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: No, they’re not!
ROMNEY: Of course they are. Everything corporations earn also goes to people.
ROMNEY: Where do you think it goes?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: It goes into their pockets!
ROMNEY: Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets! Human beings, my friend. So number one, you can raise taxes. That’s not the approach that I would take.
Sargent thinks the attacks are unfair but “it’s still an incredibly tone deaf thing to say.” But Brad Plumer points out that Romney is all kinds of right here:
For a long time, the courts have treated corporations like people in many respects. They can sue and be sued. They can enter contracts. They can own property. They have some free speech rights. Thanks to last year’s Citizens United case, they can now fund political broadcasts in elections without limits. True, corporations still aren’t allowed to vote or run for office, but who knows what possibilities future Supreme Courts might imagine?
But Romney was also making a more specific argument — if the government taxes corporations, those taxes eventually filter down to specific people. That’s true. But which people?
Plumer cites conflicting economic studies, some saying that they’re simply passed on to consumers and others saying that it mostly comes out of rich people’s pockets, but sympathizes with the latter. But, according to my extensive research, it doesn’t matter: Rich people are people, too! (So–SPOILER ALERT!–is Soylent Green.)
Romney’s right here: Raising taxes on corporations is raising taxes on people. Not because they have quasi-person status under some aspects of the law but because corporations are legal fictions; they’re collections of people organized for business.
Incidentally, President Obama agrees with Romney on the public policy question, too. Back in February, he noted that our 35 percent corporate tax rate was among the highest in the developed world and ought to be lowered–in exchange for closing some loopholes.