At an Iowa campaign stop in August, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a startling assertion. Asked about his refusal to raise taxes on corporations while millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet, he replied, “Corporations are people, my friend.”
It wasn’t a slip-up. A look through Romney’s economic plan shows that, as president, the former Massachusetts governor would care tenderly for big corporations while ignoring the needs of flesh-and-blood Americans.
Romney calls his economic plan, “Believe in America.” But it’s clear that the America he believes in is one where working families pay for corporations to thrive. Romney’s plan prescribes corporate deregulation as the cure-all for the country’s ills, while conveniently neglecting to mention the real harm that rampant deregulation can cause. Rampant deregulation of the financial industry in the Bush years, for instance, helped to catapult the United States into our current recession. Lax federal oversight of mine safety and offshore drilling has contributed to tragedies that cost many lives.
In the face of a soaring national debt brought on in large part by President George W. Bush’s massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, Romney is demanding even more tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. Romney wants to make permanent Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, abolish the estate tax entirely, and reduce corporate taxes to “put American companies on a level playing field.” He doesn’t discuss how the Bush-era tax cuts helped cause our current fiscal nightmare or that, given our existing system of corporate welfare, corporations like Bank of America and GE paid no federal income taxes in 2010.
Regarding energy and the environment, Romney echoes Sarah Palin’s infamous battle cry, “Drill, Baby Drill.” According to his campaign’s official economic plan, a Romney administration would strip away nuclear power safety regulations and permit oil extraction in “the Gulf of Mexico, both the Atlantic and Pacific Outer Continental Shelves, Western lands, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and off the Alaska coast,” even as the Gulf Coast struggles to recover from last year’s devastating oil spill.
Romney, like many of his fellow Republican politicians, ignores the fact that lax regulation led to the implosion of the housing bubble and the BP oil disaster. He chooses not to heed the overwhelming majority of scientists who are warning that the government must step in to mitigate the long-term catastrophe of climate change. He chooses to ignore that even as corporate profits soar and the rich get richer, unemployment remains high and millions of Americans are tumbling from the middle class into poverty.
Romney reminds us that when he turned 21, unemployment stood at 3.6 percent. Romney turned 21 in 1968, when Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson was president, the top corporate tax rate was 52.8 percent, and income inequality was nearly 20 percent lower than it is today.
Under President George W. Bush, corporations were handed huge tax breaks and free rein to regulate themselves. Today, the biggest corporations are enjoying record profits and record-low tax bills, while ordinary Americans are struggling to get by.