From last nightís State of the Union address:
For example, over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change. (Applause.)
Highest corporate taxes in the world? I hollered at the TV that this was Chamber of Commerce crap. Not being Rushbo, however, I checked before shooting off my mouth in public.
Turns out the answer is, it depends. Tax rates, as the President pointed out, can have little or no relationship to taxes actually paid. Every nation has its own complicated system of taxation, and direct comparisons are very difficult to make. But one method produced this result:
Other methods show our corporate taxes higher than some developed nations, lower than others. No pattern, at least that I could see, links corporate taxation convincingly either to economic success or failure.
I have no real problem with what the President may have been driving at in this section of his speech. To the extent that his vague and careful remarks meant anything at all, it seemed to be that the big corporations slime out of their taxes and leave Mom and Pop stores to make up the difference. Probably this is so. Certainly neither party will do much about it. This is America.
Iím sorry, however, that Mr. Obama went for a cheap applause line which reinforced the GOPís ancient Big Lie: that Americans, poor babies, stagger through life under one of the worldís heaviest tax burdens.
But take a look at Business Punditís ranking of tax rates in 12 developed nations. Belgium taxes the most heavily, followed by Finland, Germany, Denmark, Italy and France; the United States is among the lowest ó below Switzerland, but slightly above Australia, Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
High taxes or low, only one country on the list canít afford universal health care for its citizens. Again, this is America.