Investments Can Yield More on K Street, Study Indicates
One Tax Break Brought Companies 22,000% Rate of Return on Lobbying Costs
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 12, 2009; A08
In a remarkable illustration of the power of lobbying in Washington, a study released last week found that a single tax break in 2004 earned companies $220 for every dollar they spent on the issue — a 22,000 percent rate of return on their investment.
The study by researchers at the University of Kansas underscores the central reason that lobbying has become a $3 billion-a-year industry in Washington: It pays. The $787 billion stimulus act and major spending proposals have ratcheted up the lobbying frenzy further this year, even as President Obama and public-interest groups press for sharper restrictions on the practice.
The paper by three Kansas professors examined the impact of a one-time tax break approved by Congress in 2004 that allowed multinational corporations to “repatriate” profits earned overseas, effectively reducing their tax rate on the money from 35 percent to 5.25 percent. More than 800 companies took advantage of the legislation, saving an estimated $100 billion in the process, according to the study.
. . . Mazza added that the results are “troubling” because they show how large companies can distort tax policy to benefit their bottom line.
“Troubling,” is it? It’s always a problem when laws are so ignored that they become irrelevant. It’s against the law to walk against the Do Not Walk light, yet would be ludicrous to enforce on 5th Avenue at four in the morning. No one will stand there like a dummy on an empty street.
Far more troubling to me is that we have all been made dummies– waiting for that damned light to say Walk in a nation watching a four in the morning economy be engineered in favor of those who have (almost gleefully) impoverished us.
Far more troubling to me is that lobbying has been allowed to include bribery and extortion–two crimes for which we ordinary citizens go to jail, often for decades–and the Washington Post blithely describes those crimes as ‘investments.’
Senator Charles Schumer has yet to explain to my satisfaction what he did with the $13 million he collected during just the 2008 election cycle.
That’s bribe money, Chuck.
The National Rifle Association survives a 70% disapproval rate among American citizens on the matter of assault weapons, because they mass their resources against any member of Congress speaking out for their constituency and against NRA policy.
That’s extortion, folks.
The Sunday Washington Post slides this story under our collective door when it is assured of the least readership and calls bribery and extortion the power of lobbying. Language, WaPo, is what newspapers are made of and when bribery and extortion are called lobbying, worthless, fraudulent investment vehicles termed toxic assets, thieves and crooks lionized as captains of industry, the newspapering world goes ’tilt.’
Possibly, just possibly, we readers are tired of being made to metaphorically stand at the Walk Light on an empty street at 4am. The demise of newspapers may have as much to do with that sad fact as it does whining about ad revenue. ‘Build it and they will come‘ has an opposite and equal force in ‘destroy integrity and they will leave.’