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.

AUDIENCE: [LAUGHTER]

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.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, US Politics,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    If corporations are people then Romney is a serial killer.

  2. Hey Norm says:

    I got nuthin’ for Romney…but this is just dumb…keep moving, nothing to see here.

  3. legion says:

    Well, tax increases only benefit (or harm) the overall economy if the money being taxed could (or couldn’t) be used for a better, more productive purpose. You can argue all day what a “better purpose” might look like, but right now corporations are sitting on vast pools of capital & doing nothing. No good can come of that.

  4. Fiona says:

    Yet another example of the ways in which Romney is tone deaf. He comes off as the guy that comes in when your company is sold and proceeds to lay you off. He’s as clueless as he is rich. I just don’t see how he gets the Republican nomination. Nobody would want to have a beer with him (if he actually drank beer). Perry’s going to wipe the floor with Mitt.

  5. James Joyner says:

    @legion: But that’s a different question. It may well make fiscal and moral sense to raise taxes on the wealthy in some manner. Whether it should be on corporations, on high earners, on consumption, or whatever is debatable.

    Regardless, though, it’ll be people who are affected. If the CEO has to pay an extra million in taxes, it’s a person who’s effected. It might make sense to do it for the greater good, but it’s not some ephemeral corporation paying the money; it’s a person.

  6. george says:

    I’ll believe corporations are people too when I see one (meaning all of one) doing jury duty, or arrested because part of one committed a crime (if your hand commits a crime, your whole body goes to jail).

    Corporations are a legal entity that are given rights because it helps the economy; they are in no way people in any moral sense. I don’t know if Romney is simple minded or just playing politician, but I wish he’d stop it.

  7. legion says:

    I see that as a distinction without a difference… _Anything_ that happens, happens to people. The point is that taxation is neither inherently good or evil – it depends on who you tax, how, why, and what you do with the money. Just saying “corporations are people too”, while a point I violently disagree with, doesn’t change the taxation debate _one bit_.

  8. James Joyner says:

    @legion: Well, it does in the sense that people see “corporations” as mere entities and not as collections of people. People are willing to steal from big corporations like insurance companies or huge chain stores because they’re “just corporations” but see Mom and Pops as people. In reality, it’s people getting screwed either way.

  9. Ben Wolf says:
  10. WR says:

    @James Joyner: Once again, you focus on the specific words in a sentence and completely miss the context. Romney was making a point that we needed to cut social services like Social Security and Medicare — services that help the poor and middle class — and couldn’t tax corporations because “they are people.” The reason people are trashing him for this is because he believes these fictional people — or the billionaires who are their primary owners — must be protected even if it means the little people need to sacrifice.

    Really, it’s not that hard to see.

  11. An Interested Party says:

    Perry’s going to wipe the floor with Mitt.

    I’m sure the President certainly hopes so…

  12. ponce says:

    Romney & Perry = Laurel & Hardy.

  13. legion says:

    @James Joyner: I’m not convinced. The whole point of creating a corporation or partnership is to limit the financial risks to the individual principals. If you tax $X out of a company, it’s not coming out of the CEO’s personal pocket, or the workers’ pockets for that matter – it’s coming out of the collective pockets of the shareholders, one tiny fraction at a time. _That_ makes taxing companies different from taxing individual human beings. Even if you think _all_ taxation is theft (hi, Grover!) I would still argue that taxing companies is “less evil” than taxing people, and I think this stands whether you accept or reject Romney’s statement.

  14. legion says:

    In other words: What WR said.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Corporations are people…

    Mitt, Do they collect social security? Do they need Medicare? Can they be unemployed? Can they go to prison?

    No.
    No.
    No.
    No.

    Mitt, a word from the not so wise…

    STFU.

  16. Ron Beasley says:

    @ponce: Laurel & Hardy were big in Germany where the were known as Dick und Duff. I think that works better.

  17. Ron Beasley says:

    @Ben Wolf: Thanks Ben but I actually read that somewhere else but I can’t find it now so I can’t give them the credit they deserve.

  18. Tsar Nicholas says:

    It would be fascinating to know the exact percentage of Internet bloggers and especially commenters on Internet blogs who at any point in their lives gainfully have been employed in the private sector, whether by corporation, partnership, limited partnership, LLC, syndicated LLC, joint venture or, hell, by any other form of business organization. I’d wager that percentage is quite small. For the simple and obvious reason the disconnects between the Internet demographic and the private sector labor force and management force are staggering. More salient to this particular item, the ignorance of how corporations are taxed also is staggering.

    Corporations either pay federal taxes twice (C corporations) or they pay a one-time federal tax (S corporations). Larger companies are set up as C corporations. Uncle Sam gets a cut of their net income before any money gets doled out to those “rich” shareholders, about which leftists scream and howl. (Incidentally, many of the shareholders of C corporations are middle to lower middle-class seniors who depend on corporate dividends to make ends meet; but that’s a topic for another day and time.)

    All Romney is saying here is that if you tax corporations you’re ultimately taxing the people who make up their constituencies. That absolutely is a correct statement. More money going directly to Uncle Sam means less salary, lesser bonuses, fewer fringe benefits and fewer and smaller raises for people, specifically the corporation’s employees. Duh. More money to Uncle Sam means less in the way of dividends and equity for shareholders. Meaning those shareholders will have less to save, less to invest and less to spend. Which in turn, when the ripple effects are taken into account, means less growth and, hello, fewer jobs. This isn’t rocket science, Homey.

    Of course Zombieland wouldn’t be able to grasp any of this because Zombieland is ignorant to the point of de facto brain death.

    That all said, this will be a good learning experience for Romney. Words matter. Perception can equal reality. You can’t assume your audience can find their own assholes, much less to understand subtle arguments. Ergo when you’re running for president you have to dumb it down. Really dumb it down. I mean, seriously dumb it down. Instead of saying “corporations are people,” and being shocked that Zombieland can’t connect the obvious dots, you need to give them a sound byte that an 8th grader could follow. Something along the lines of: “If you raise taxes on corporations there’ll be less jobs for you and your families.”

    Lastly, this kerfuffle is Exhibit Z in support of the case that in the great debate over Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian democracy Hamilton was right and Jefferson was wrong. QED.

  19. john personna says:

    I took him to mean “Corporations are [made up of] people.” That’s a common argument in tax politics, and unsurprising.

  20. Drew says:

    What this thread has done is identify dopes: Beasly, legion, hey norm/ponce/uninteresting party (we knew already). Ozark……

    Look, people, corporations exist on paper, the incidence of taxes or other eonomic costs is a highly debated subject, and is ill defined. Does the incidence fall on capital, employees, suppliers or consumers? Debatable. The best study Ii’ve see suggests capital and employees, roughly equally. Not good for employment people.

    So before you bring your juvenile invective against business, ask yourselves, do I really want to chase employment over to, oh, Indiana……………or China?

  21. Davebo says:

    James,

    Who’s house can I seize if I get a legal judgement against a corporation? This is citizens united all over again, and it’s just as idiotic.

    The entire premise has a very childish naivety. I run a two person corporation. Do you seriously think I incorporated to make my company appear to be more than what it is?

  22. WR says:

    @Drew: Right. Because as long as we keep corporate taxes low, they’ll create jobs and treat their workers fairly.

    Oh, wait. Verizon not only didn’t pay any taxes last year, they took a billion dollars from the Feds. And in their generosity, now that their profits are at a high, they are attempting to slash salaries and benefits for their employees. Not because they need to. Because they want to.

    So all you corporate whores out there, please take your sanctimonious lectures about the glories of the free market and how it will free us all and shove them somewhere. We see every day what a complete lie this is. The only question that remains is whether you are lying or simply too blinded by ideology to recognize the truth.

  23. john personna says:

    It seems simple to me. To the extent that corporations pass through profits to their workers and shareholders, all you need to do is tax that income at the terminus. To the extent that they build up reserves (cash and otherwise) you need to tax non-distributed income. To do otherwise would be to make the federal revenues way too lumpy with respect to the business cycle.

    You can set those tax levels all over the place of course, with worker income, investment income, corporate income, and even inheritance transfer of shares all treated differently.

    You can create a mess like the one we have right now.

  24. @WR:

    billionaires who are their primary owners

    Billionaires aren’t the primary owners of most corporations. As an example that was in the news today, take Apple. The biggest shareholder owns less than three tenths of one percent of the company. 71% of it is being held by mutual funds.

  25. john personna says:

    @WR:

    This is the report I found on Verizon:

    VERIZON: Take out your Verizon phone bill. See the part of the bill where you paid taxes? $2 dollars? Guess what? You paid more taxes on your phone bill than Verizon paid in 2009 and 2010 in federal U.S. corporate taxes. They reported $24.2 billion in pre-tax U.S. income, and yet claimed a federal corporate refund of $1.3 billion. The company has $1.2 billion in unrepatriated foreign assets, money it is keeping offshore in order not to take tax reserves against it.

    It would make a great deal of difference to me whether this was genuinely foreign-earned income, or US income, piped through offshore holdings.

    If we let them get away with the latter, we should crack down. But is it really? Or are there people who think Verizon should, say, pay full tax for an operation in Spain, and then US tax again on top of it?

  26. WR says:

    @john personna: I think you kind of missed the point there. It wasn’t how we parse the tax code, it was the fact that this giant corporation which is currently earning record profits while paying no taxes is simultaneously attempting to slash the wages and benefits of their workds for no reason other than that they think they can.

    The point is not whether there is foreign-earned income. It is that the Republican mantra that if we cut taxes on rich people and corporations they will create jobs is a lie.

    I apologize if I wasn’t clear about that. Let me rephrase it: If we cut taxes on corporations, they will find ways to stuff it in their bulging pockets through bonuses or stock buybacks or dividends. They will not use it to create jobs or share the wealth created primarily by their workers with those workers.

  27. An Interested Party says:

    @Drew: While you were so busy defending corporations, you obviously failed to notice that I wrote nothing against them…still, we’re all terribly flattered that you took some time away from kissing Dodd’s ass to grace us with your presence and misplaced insults…you may now return to puckering up…

  28. Yet another disillusioned pawn says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Is it possible that you selected Apple because it is the only one that met your criteria or can you cite a few others.

  29. john personna says:

    @WR:

    “They are big, therefore they made actual profit’ isn’t really a good assertion.

    Big companies have bad years, and even fail, with some regularity.

    Did you notice that Bank of America is on that same list?

    In other news, Naked Capitalism has Bank of America on deathwatch.

    (There is some real weirdness there though. Arguably BofA bit the bullet at behest of the government, and swallowed Countrywide when they should not have touched it with a 20 km pole.)

  30. john personna says:

    (IOW, you’d have to show me how Verizon made onshore money, and avoided tax on that onshore money, for be to be sure they are exploiting the system.)

  31. jan says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    All Romney is saying here is that if you tax corporations you’re ultimately taxing the people who make up their constituencies

    Some of the comments here remind me of the adage “the less a person knows about a subject the greater the attacks.” Consequently, it was refreshing to read one that actually had substance and knowledge relating to the formation of a corporation involving groups of people.

    The word “rich” is so overused by the left. They seem to extend it to anyone deemed to be better off or having more privileges than themselves. Therefore, corporations become perfect faceless targets in which to group the “rich.” However, such judgements are derived by superficial windshield appraisals, through the less-than-accurate perspective or lens of class envy and ideologically concocted social/economic justice memes.

    As for Romney’s run-in with hecklers today, it was a set-up by moveon.org. These people didn’t want to hear what Romney had to say. Their mission was to disrupt, probably copying what they perceived worked for the tea party during the summer of complaints dealing with dissent over Obamacare. Apparently, though, this is going to be the scripted tenor of what is ahead in the 2012 election.

    Also, WR continues with his disingenuous social platform in which he wants to cast SS, Medicaid, Medicare reform as “cutting,” these programs, versus reconfiguring them so they actually have some duration beyond 2024 & 2036. People like him create such a disservice towards the cultivation of genuine bi-partisan measures that will give life and breath into currently dying programs.

  32. john personna says:

    @Yet another disillusioned pawn:

    Isn’t it obvious that there are too few billionaires to go around?

  33. john personna says:

    @jan:

    As for Romney’s run-in with hecklers today, it was a set-up by moveon.org. These people didn’t want to hear what Romney had to say. Their mission was to disrupt, probably copying what they perceived worked for the tea party during the summer of complaints dealing with dissent over Obamacare. Apparently, though, this is going to be the scripted tenor of what is ahead in the 2012 election

    lolz. Score one for pulling the standard paranoia card out of your pocket.

    No, it strikes me as pure Tea Party populism. It ties to the whole bailout thing, and the idea that government helps wall street and not main street.

  34. WR says:

    @john personna: Um, no, they are making huge, record profits. Your argument is you can say they’re not, so that excuses screwing their workers? That’s pretty lame.

  35. WR says:

    @john personna: I’m not talking about exploting the system. I’m talking about screwing workers. Are working people so far beneath your level of interest that you simply can’t understand that?

  36. An Interested Party says:

    Some of the comments here remind me of the adage “the less a person knows about a subject the greater the attacks.”

    Oh, so that could apply to everything you have written about the government in general and the President in particular…

    People like him create such a disservice towards the cultivation of genuine bi-partisan measures that will give life and breath into currently dying programs.

    Pravda could not have written a better line…as if something like the Ryan Plan is “bipartisan” or doesn’t end Medicare as we know it…please…

  37. WR says:

    @jan: Wow, those evil Move-On guys sure are sneaky. They ask Romney about his record and his opinions, knowing that he can’t possibly answer coherently. Evil, I tells ya, evil.

  38. DavidL says:

    I think Mitt Romney could have handled the sock puppets better. However given that the politics of personal destruction appears to be Barack Obama’s only path to victory, I’d wager that Romney will get plenty of practice dealing with the sock puppets and only get better at it.

  39. Hey Norm says:

    Wow…Drew called me a dope because I defended Romney???
    WTF?
    So basically he/she is just geared up to go batshit no matter what anyone says.
    Cool.

  40. john personna says:

    @WR:

    I’m just not so caught up in the emotional side that I want to punt on the accounting.

    Verizon Posts Loss, Citing Charge Related to Layoffs

    That’s the kind of thing you could have linked me to. It is much more complicated than you imply. They had charges related to lay-offs. We’d hope those were real (ie. severance, compensation for vacation time, etc.). But we also see that they were in segments for which they lost business.

    During a call to investors and analysts on Tuesday, Verizon’s chief financial officer, John Killian, said the company would continue to trim costs to combat the deterioration of its residential wireline phone business and its corporate business that is still recovering from the recession. Over the last two years, the company eliminated 26,000 jobs in its wireline sector. Verizon employs about 223,000 people.

    I think the key has to be the accounting loss. If they really made profit, as you claim, we want rules that make it show at tax time.

    And as sad as it may be to our sensibilities, there really are short term costs to lay-offs.

  41. Hey Norm says:

    Glad to see Jan the former democrat now moderate independent…spitting the talking points…Rich good, Move-On bad. So free-thinking!!!!

  42. WR says:

    @john personna: Wow. Great. Accounting charges. Meanwhile, they are attempting to slash workers pay and benefits, and you simply can’t respond to that. The point is simple — if corporate taxes are cut, they will not use that money to hire workers or lower consumer prices. As evidenced by the airlines getting an extra fifty bucks per ticket when the geniuses in your party shut down the FAA, and only one of them gave a nickel back in fare cuts. They kept that money.

    But in your world, only corporate executives matter, I guess.

  43. WR says:

    @DavidL: Yes, personal destruction. “Governor Romney, will you raise taxes on corporations instead of slashing medicare?” Wow, those Dems are mean.

    I think you should provide a list of approved, non personal questions we can be allowed to ask Romney.

  44. @Yet another disillusioned pawn:

    Well, let’s take the top ten from the Fortune 500:

    Walmart: largest shareholder(Jim Walton) owns .3%, mutual funds own 32%
    Exxon Mobil: largest shareholder(Rex Tillerson) owns .03%, mutual funds own 49%
    Chevron: largest shareholder(John Bethancourt) owns .003%, mutual funds own 63%
    ConocoPhillips: largest shareholder(James Mulva) owns .04%, mutual funds own 73%
    Fannie Mae: largest shareholder(Michael Williams) owns .005%, mutual funds own 4%
    General Electric: largest shareholder(Jeffrey Immelt) owns .014%, mutual funds own 52%
    Berkshire Hathaway: largest shareholder(Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation Trust) owns N/A, mutual funds own 48%
    General Motors: largest shareholder(UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Fund) owns 10%, mutual funds own 40%
    Bank of America: largest shareholder(Brian Moynihan) owns .004%, mutual funds own 60%
    Ford Motor: largest shareholder(William Clay Ford, Jr.) owns .1%, mutual funds own 64%

    I can’t calculate how much fof Berkshire Hathaway the B&MGTF owns because there’s two types of common stock one of which just split, so I can’t match yearly reported figures up to the quarterly reported ones.

  45. john personna says:

    @WR:

    You are cracking me up, man.

    You have the morality play so strongly in your mind that you’ve lost what tax is about: profit.

    We don’t actually tax loss.

  46. steve says:

    I think the key point, alluded to above, is that corporations are people, but Medicare and Social Security are government programs, apparently having not much to do with people.

    Steve

  47. WR says:

    @john personna: Can’t even address the issue of the treatment of workers. You are a great Republican, sir!

  48. john personna says:

    @WR:

    What are you giving me, that companies should hire arbitrarily more? Apple and Steve Jobs are cash rich. How many should they hire? Who decides? You?

  49. Franklin says:

    If the CEO has to pay an extra million in taxes, it’s a person who’s effected.

    In honor of pedants everywhere, I do believe you meant that it’s a person who’s affected. (Unless, I suppose, you are talking about the politicians who effected the tax law that affected the CEO…)

  50. john personna says:

    Even better, BofA is on deathwatch. How many should they hire?

  51. WR says:

    @john personna:Your blind spot is absolutely astonishing. You are simply incapable of addressing the actual issue. But let’s try this one more time: It’s not about hiring more employees. Verizon, which has no financial problems at all, is trying to slash wages and benefits for its workers. See? A corporation is making lots of money, paying no taxes, and is slashing wages and benefits. Now explain how cutting their taxes further will lead them to create jobs — or even treat their people decently.

    Or don’t. Your silence on the subject really says it all. Executives are good; workers invisible.

  52. Ernieyeball says:

    About VZ: “…it was the fact that this giant corporation which is currently earning record profits while paying no taxes is simultaneously attempting to slash the wages and benefits of their workds for no reason other than that they think they can.”

    I have worked in the telephone industry since 1973. From 2003 to 2009 I was a waged employee of Verizon Communications (the land line telephone company, not Verizon Wireless which is a different company). I own VZ stock which pays a damn good dividend and will draw a pension from VZ when I reach 65. I hope they EARN RECORD PROFITS, PAY AS LITTLE TAX AS POSSIBLE and do whatever they have to with the work force like they did with me (laid-off) so they can keep the stock price growing and the dividend flowing!

  53. jan says:

    @john personna:

    ??? Absolutely made no sense in your comments.

  54. john personna says:

    @WR:

    Verizon posted a loss. As I say above you have to prove a profit.

  55. john personna says:

    @jan:

    Is there any actual proof these were not Teas?

    Teas are populist and angry with Wall Street.

  56. Murray says:

    So corporations are people because … they pay taxes. Does it imply that house wives and children aren’t people because they don’t pay taxes?

    I can’t wait for the day when a corporation will sue for … emotional distress.

  57. Terrye says:

    Of course they are people. All sorts of people can be incorporated…non profit governmental agencies are also people..the military is people..Corporations represent share holders and share holders are people. My boss is a human being. When a family farmer creates a corporation that includes his two grown sons..they are people.

    The amazing thing is that there are people out there who are too dumb to understand what Romney was talking about.

  58. Muffler says:

    There is test. If Corporations are people then the inverse must be true: People are corporations. Somehow the test seems to fail.

  59. sam says:

    True, corporations still aren’t allowed to vote or run for office, but who knows what possibilities future Supreme Courts might imagine?

    Sen. Goldman Sachs (R.-New York) today said it would vote yes on the constitutional amendment to allow corporations to marry. “For too, too long corporations have been denied this fundamental right, one accorded to all other persons in our society. As the Supreme Court said in its landmark decision, Registrar of Voters vs. Angleton Heating and Plumbing (to which we owe our postition):

    In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission we affirmed the personhood of corporations for the purposes of political speech: government may not exact differential treatment on corporate political speech. But the right to free political speech of the citizenry (and as persons, corporations can be and are citizens), this right to free political speech would be a hollow right if not exercised in conjunction with the right to vote. It beggars logic to argue that this person can argue for this position in the public square but cannot vote for this position in the privacy of the voting booth. Therefore, we conclude that corporations can vote in elections. But we further decide that having the right to vote in elections, corporations, as persons, have the logically concomitant right to run for and hold office. So much, we hold, follows from the personhood of corporations: corporations, as with any person, are free to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous political contests, and win or lose elections as the electorate decides. Persons are persons: The category admits of no gradations.

    Persons are persons. The category admits of no gradations. Unfortunately, in some less enlightened quarters of our society, those words are not taken with the animating spirit of tolerance that is the mark of the forward-thinking. The most basic of the rights of a person, the right to marry as asserted for those persons who happen to be corporations, is denounced as a perversion. And thus a constitutional amendment is required to instantiate the principle enunciated in Registrar of Voters . And so Goldman Sachs will be voting yes on the constitutional amendment to allow corporations to marry, to explode once and for all the artificial concept of merger and acquisition and replace it with that most natural to persons: marriage. And, finally, as a personal aside, it is a not very well kept secret that we’ve been screwing this little hedge fund for years, and would just like the opportunity to make the arrangement an honest one.

  60. Muffler says:

    @Terrye: I say that that corporations are “like people” as they once were granted rights and special privileges in order to provide a benefit to society which individuals could not accomplish singularly. That concept of a corporation is no longer accurate and corporations have taken (or bought) super rights which exceed an individual. The corporation of today (the ones most people think about and this comment applies to) are the owned by unknown people (holding companies to holding companies) working without transparency within my country. US corporations are not necessarily owned by US citizens and yet the rules have been corrupted so well through sheer weight of money to create rules which make foreign owners able to influence US politics directly but invisibly. Secondly corporations can use their special power to raise capital to make themselves generally invulnerable to any damages they inflict on people or communities. These corporations don’t exist in any single community and have no societal pressure. They are therefore have no real needed sense of morality. The same people who claim atheists have no morals also call corporations people and yet corporations have nothing to prevent them from immorality but government. Government is now their playground. Romney makes no sense as he speaks on each topic in solo mode – as do most politicians ans especially the GOP. If they are ever called on the interrelationships it all fails.

  61. WR says:

    @Ernieyeball: In other words, screw them, pay me? Gosh, and we wonder why the economy’s doing so badly with keen economic thinking like that out there.

  62. Rob in CT says:

    I understand Romney’s point: corporations are made up of people, people work for them, people invest in them, etc. He does not appear to be making a Citizens United argument that Corporations are people in the legal sense.

    He said this in the context of arguing that we have to cut entitlements, but we can’t raise taxes.

    So, while I’m happy to agree with him on the technical point that Corporations are made up of people, it should be noted that “entitlements” are paid to & administered by… guess what? PEOPLE and, generally speaking, needier people. I therefore find Romney’s core argument utterly unconvincing. No surprise there, as it’s the same argument we’ve been having for some time now.

    Now, I happen to support the idea of corporate tax reform. It’s not a subject about which I’m all that knowledgeable, but I get the idea that we have a superficially high rate (35%) that’s riddled with loopholes, such that (as with the income tax) corporations armed with entire departments of tax lawyers can game it, and the little-to-mid-size corps are the ones who pay. As with the income tax, I’d like to see reform that simplifies the code and rebalances the rates.

  63. Rob in CT says:

    Actually, another route to take would be to end corporate taxation altogether, but also tax capital gains as regular income. That might be more efficient. Just a thought.

  64. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT: “end corporate taxation”

    As I say above, that makes revenue pretty lumpy. Sure if a company makes billions the stock will sooner or later rise, and shares will sooner or later be sold, but people tend to sell in waves.

  65. @Muffler:

    There is test. If Corporations are people then the inverse must be true: People are corporations. Somehow the test seems to fail.

    All dogs are mammals, therefore all mammals are dogs.

  66. @Rob in CT:

    Actually, another route to take would be to end corporate taxation altogether, but also tax capital gains as regular income. That might be more efficient. Just a thought.

    The reason for preferential tax treatment of capital gains is to encourage investors to invest in equity rather than debt.

  67. Ernieyeball says:

    @WR: Yes. When technology and/or loss of revenue due to loss of customers (all landline telcos are losing customers due to the new technology of cell phones) make cost cutting necessary to keep for profit companies afloat then one of several ways to keep costs down is to reduce the work force, both management and labor, as VZ and other companies in many industries have done since the beginning of capitalism.
    Not that it is always easy.
    When the railroads converted to diesel from coal locomotives the unions practiced featherbedding. They forced railroads to keep the firemen that stoked the boilers even though there were no boilers to stoke.
    I suppose you believe that “keen economic thinking” includes somehow forcing VZ et. al. to keep employees they do not need.
    I’m not sure if this is charity or welfare.
    Maybe you can lobby for a new “Full Employment Amendment” to the US Constitution that guarantees everyone a job.

  68. Joe R. says:

    So by raising taxes on Verizon, we can help its employees. Or something. Underpants, profit.

  69. Rob in CT says:

    @Stormy Dragon: @Stormy Dragon:

    I don’t think it’s working all that well.

  70. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    Ok, that objection makes sense to me.

    I’m just spitballing here, and I’m sure I’m missing some things.

  71. WR says:

    @Ernieyeball: One might wonder why, if cash is so tight — despite a net income of $6.9 billion for the first half of this year — they gave their top five executives more than $250 million over the last four years.

    This has nothing to do with profits, nothing to do with changes in the industry. It’s about a crummy labor market allowing them to try to take money out of their workers’ profits and give it to the execs and shareholders.

    Now Drew or JKB will come along and explain how that’sthe only right and proper way to a corporation to act. And that if each individual worker doesn’t like it, they should each negotiate a new contract for themselves. Because of course unions are evil.

  72. Ernieyeball says:

    @WR: As I stated earlier my stint in the telephone industry spanned the better part of 36 years. Most of that time I was not a Telco employee. I worked for or was myself a contracting company that many Telcos outsource work to. I have had occasion to be both employer and employee. I have worked in 14 states for several different Telephone Companies. Some which no longer exist.
    As an employee in some places I was forced to pay Union dues just to ply my trade. This usually meant I had to conform to their work rules which often restricted how much money I could make in any given time. Other (non union) jurisdictions had no such impediments to my activity. I consistently had more opportunity and made more money in non union areas than the places where I was legally obligated, usually by State law, to “sign up at the hall.”
    I have not yet said anything about labor unions being “evil”. Please do not attribute to me words I have not said. It is a cheap shot and an outright lie.

  73. Eric Florack says:

    @WR:

    “Governor Romney, will you raise taxes on corporations instead of slashing medicare?” Wow, those Dems are mean.

    THat’s a false choice.

  74. Eric Florack says:

    Hmmm. I seem to recall the tax bill for Verizon was on the order of $2.5 BUSD.
    Seems somewhat more than zero, to me