Corporations use terrorism as opportunity to loot the public till
November/December 2001

"We all have to sacrifice to fight this war against terrorism" turns out to mean "you all will have to sacrifice, while we loot the U.S. treasury and give big tax rebates to ourselves and our buddies." This was the conclusion of citizen's groups who looked at the House's "economic stimulus package" on Nov. 5:

WASHINGTON--Citizen advocates converged today in Washington, D.C. to call on President Bush and Congress to end the outburst of wartime opportunism since the September 11 tragedy.

"Since September 11, members of Congress have served up a nonstop buffet of corporate pork legislation. Under the guise of 'national security' our federal treasury is being raided and democratic rights are being taken away while Congress feeds sympathetic campaign contributors at taxpayer expense, sends working people to fight, and leaves the unemployed, disenfranchised, and American families to suffer," said Ralph Nader, consumer advocate and Citizen Works founder.

Organizations in the environmental, labor, consumer, civil liberties, civil rights and pro-democracy communities have had to defend citizens against a new onslaught of opportunism in areas ranging from multi-billion dollar corporate tax cuts to expansion of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

"For corporations to loot the U.S. Treasury and prey on the environment while wrapping themselves in the flag is an act of sheer treachery, one Americans will not soon forget," said John Passacantando, executive director of Greenpeace USA.

Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth stated that, "The Administration and many in Congress are pushing energy legislation that will actually weaken national security."

Mildred Brown, past national president of ACORN said, "The nation recognizes that the heroes of this tragedy are our nation's working people, but all Congress and the President want to do is give more tax breaks to big business and the nation's wealthiest people."

Citizen Works, a pro-democracy citizen organization, laid out nine areas of corporate opportunism in a call to action released today:

  1. A so-called "Economic Stimulus" Plan that benefits corporate treasuries and neglects workers
  2. Pharmaceutical Gouging
  3. "Bailouts for Billionaires" not workers
  4. The Re-emergence of autocratic "Fast Track"
  5. Handouts for the Insurance Industry
  6. More Phony "Defense" and the Reintroduction of Biological Weapons
  7. Endangering the Environment and Energy
  8. The oxymoronic "USA PATRIOT Act"
  9. Restrictions on Information/Invasions of Privacy

"From Fast Track to pharmaceuticals, wartime opportunists are shamefully using the September 11 tragedy to advance narrow corporate interests at the expense of public health and safety," said Robert Weissman, co-director of Essential Action.

Press release from Citizen Works, 202-265-6164

These corporations would receive rebate checks for15 years' worth of federal income tax under the "stimulus" plan approved by the House.

IBM$1.4 billion
Ford$1 billion
GM$833 million
GE$671 million
Texas Utilities $608 million
DaimlerChrysler$600 million
ChevronTexaco$572 million
United Airlines$371 million
Enron$254 million
Phillips Petroleum$241 million
American Airlines$184 million
IMC Global$155 million
Comdisco$144 million
CMS Energy$136 million
Kmart$102 million

Source: Citizens For Tax Justice, from corporate annual reports.

In the days after the tragedy of September 11, while the families of firefighters and policemen were attending funerals, and the President was calling for prayers and sacrifice, lobbyists for GM, GE, IBM and other leading corporations were quietly approaching their friends in Congress, bearing a wish list with hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts and special favors.

This profiteering in the name of patriotism is on the verge of becoming law. Consider just two provisions in the so-called "stimulus" package passed by the House and now being considered in the Senate.

No Corporate Tax Forever?
The Alternative Minimum Tax law requires hugely profitable corporations to pay at least some federal income tax each year, no matter how many loopholes they can exploit. Repealing the law means some of these multinational companies will be able to pay little or nothing in U.S. income tax forever. And even that's not enough. The companies will get full refunds of all the Alternative Minimum Tax they've paid for the last 15 years! That's a $833 million taxpayer giveaway to GM, $1 billion to Ford, $1.4 billion to IBM, and $671 million to GE.

Hiding Profits Overseas
Another unbelievable provision is the $21 billion tax break that permits banks and other lenders (including the financial services divisions of GM and GE) to shelter their U.S. profits from taxation by shifting them, on paper, to corrupt foreign tax havens (the same places where terrorists and drug dealers hide their money)...

Instead of padding the profits of corporate war profiteers, or cutting taxes for those who don't even need it, we should be looking at a real stimulus program, one that begins with decent unemployment benefits and health insurance for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who've been displaced since the events of September 11.

This approach would help jumpstart the economy, by quickly putting money into the hands of people who will spend it, not hoard it, and would end as soon as they returned to work.

This text and the table above are excerpted from an ad in the New York Times. It was taken out by the Institute for America's Future and Citizens for Tax Justice. Reprinted from the October 2001 newsletter of the Alachua County Labor Party, (352) 375-2832, P.O. Box 12051, Gainesville, FL 32604.

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