By James A. Kidney
America is in serious trouble. It is breaking apart at the seams. There is no consensus between the progressives and the conservatives on nearly any issue. Although the blue states contain more voters of a progressive or liberal bent than conservatives, and constitute a plurality of the population, the constitutional structure of the Senate insures that the red states, with an average of 80 people per square mile, will be able to block legislation favored by blue states, with five times the population per square mile and squarely different issues at stake. But no one will debate these issues.
Tuesday night’s Republican debate will contain no real surprises of substance, only the possibility of a gaffe here or there which probably will be treated by the GOP “base” as a one-finger salute to the political leadership. It doesn’t really matter if each WSJ/Fox News panelist is a model of Edward R. Murrow or Chris Rock (there have been both in the past). Good questioners grounded in facts will still lack the tools of corporal punishment required to make the candidates actually answer good questions. There oughta’ be a law at least permitting a cream pie in the face to candidates who just run to their prepared text or “answer” by attacking the questioner. Still, one hopes for better questions, so that at least those not part of the brainwashed base can more easily defend them in the inevitable finger-pointing aftermath of Wednesday morning.
In any event, the Big Lie is the foundation of the Republican Party philosophy, whether expressed by outliers such as Ted Cruz or Establishment figures such as Jeb Bush. That lie is that Business, including or especially Big Business, will be the nation’s savior if only Government would get out of the way and taxes were cut for everyone, but especially the wealthy. It is imperative to the GOP that the Lie not be exposed or even recognized as such.
Let’s see how just the events of the last couple of weeks have tended to show what happens when we rely on businessmen to be responsible for the future of the Republic.
- Pfizer Pharmaceutical, best known for the drugs Lipitor, Viagra and Zoloft, and non-prescription products Advil, Centrum and ChapStick, is trying for a third time to merge with a nominally “foreign” corporation, Allergan, to take advantage of Ireland’s corporate tax breaks. News of the proposed acquisition of Allergen for this purpose came on the heels of Pfizer’s announcement that third quarter 2015 revenues increased 4 percent on a standalone basis and totaled $12.1 billion, including a recent acquisition. Net income was $2.1 billion, or 17 percent of revenue. R&D expenses for the quarter were $1.7 billion, or 14 percent of total revenue. In other words, Pfizer is hugely profitable but still spends less on R&D than it receives in net revenue. But Pfizer is a leader in crying how unfairly it is taxed. The company estimated that its effective tax rate on adjusted income for 2015 would be “approximately 25%.” This is well under the top corporate tax rate of 35 percent in the U.S., but far less than the 12 percent Pfizer would pay in Ireland. According to Americans for Tax Fairness, Pfizer paid no U.S. income taxes from 2010 to 2012 while earning $43 billion worldwide. Instead, it received $2.2 billion in federal tax refunds. For some reason, Pfizer believes federal tax treatment is still unfair.