'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011
ShowPlug1: Live on Countdown at 8E: Pelosi, McConnell, vow to stack Super Congress with "their people." W/Contributor Paul @NYTimesKrugman
ShowPlug2: Secret debt deal sidebar? Contributor Matt @MTaibbi on the bill to hand the fat cats another "Corporate Tax Holiday."
ShowPlug3: GOP 2012 disasters: 63,000 unclaimed seats for Rick Perry's Saturday Shindig in Houston. W/ @NiaWaPo Nia-Malika Henderson
ShowPlug4: FISA: why is Senate rushing a renewal through, why won't they address Domestic Spying? Sen. @RonWyden trying to stop; he guests
ShowPlug5: Lonesome Rhodes Beck now complaining that the new Spiderman is multi-racial, multi-ethnic. Mr. Beck is multi-Worst
ShowPlugLast: + Whaddya MEAN Rupert Murdoch has a Drone that flies around the US? Serious story, not so serious comment by @ChristFinnegan
watch whole playlist
#5 'Jobs Hunter', Paul Krugman
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#5 'Tax Cuts For Corps', Matt Taibbi
#4 'Grand Old Parody', Nia-Malika Henderson
Time Marches On!
#3 'Spies Like U.S.', Sen. Ron Wyden
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#2 Worst Persons: The Campaign To Defeat Barrack Obama (sic), Glenn Beck, Sen. Joe Lieberman
#1 'Drone-Gate', Christian Finnegan
#5 'Tax Cuts For Corps', Matt Taibbi:
While Congressional Republicans were holding the line on any new taxes or revenues, they may have also been preparing the way for a corporate tax holiday to benefit some of the richest American multi-national firms with some help from some of the corporate world's best Democratic friends.
According to Rolling Stone Contributing Editor and Countdown Contributor Matt Taibbi, who will be our guest in a few moments, a deal is being cooked that will allow corporations like Google and Cisco to repatriate billions in profits currently parked overseas at a tax rate of as little as 5 percent. Without that deal, the tax rate they'd pay would be like 35 to 40 percent.
Among the senators interested in making that deal, North Carolina Democrat Kay Hagan. Her spokesperson presents it as a jobs bill.
"Senator Hagan is looking closely at any creative short-term measures that can put people back to work. One such potential initiative is a well-crafted and temporary change to the tax code that encourages Americans to bring home home and put it toward American jobs."
Texas Republican Congressman Kevin Brady has sponsored a bill that could make the tax holiday a reality. And New York senator Charles Schumer, a friend of the Wall Street most of the time, could be among the bill's supporters if and when it is passed by the House.
An intense lobbying campaign to do just that is underway. Joining us now for the latest on this story and his thoughts on the debt deal that was just passed, Rolling Stone Contributing Editor and Countdown Contributor Matt Taibbi.
Keith Olbermann: Good evening, Matt.
Matt Taibbi: Good evening, Keith.
Keith Olbermann: So corporate lobby managed to get one of these tax holidays in 2004 and obviously they took all the money that they saved on tax holiday and put these profits into additional jobs, and that's why unemployment is now down to 2.9 percent.
Matt Taibbi: Right. What's so ironic about this is that this was pitched in 2004, when they last did this as a one-time deal that would never be repeated again. And what happened, of course, after they did this one-time tax holiday that was supposed to create jobs, was most of these companies immediately instituted mass layoffs in the thousands.
Keith Olbermann: So let me see if I can sum this up. They take the money that should be here anyway.
Matt Taibbi: Right.
Keith Olbermann: They move it back here for a holiday.
Matt Taibbi: Right.
Keith Olbermann: Presumably they move it back offshore to protect it further against that 35 or 40 percent tax percentage. Then they wait for another holiday? This is a hell of a scam. How do I get a hold of a piece of this scam? This is better than Bernie Madoff.
Matt Taibbi: This is a classic example of how Washington works. It's one of the worst kept secrets in Washington that this was not really a one-time tax holiday. As soon as they did this in 2004 and what they did incidentally is lowered for one year the effective corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 5.25 percent.
As soon as they did that in 2004, all of these companies immediately started thinking of strategies to expatriate their profits. They used all these clever techniques including things called "round tripping" and "transfer pricing."
What they would do is have a foreign subsidiary would suddenly own the patents and rights to these valuable products that would keep the profits in Holland or Switzerland. And all of the expenses would be in the high tax zone here in the United States.
So what we've been doing, if we do this holiday again, what we are effectively doing is awarded companies for off-shoring their profits. In the intervening years, when they've been keeping their profits overseas, costing Americans tens of billions of dollars and we're going to reward them by lowering their tax rate.
Keith Olbermann: Do you have a sign of this, on how the president has reacted to this proposal?
Matt Taibbi: No. There has been no sign out of the White House. But what we do know is that it has considerable support among Republicans in the House and amongst influential Democrats in the Senate.
I first started hearing about this three or four months ago and didn't have a lot of momentum. About a month and a half ago, I started hearing there was a lot of lobbying activity going on, that this really was gaining steam. We have been seeing a steady trickle of members on both sides of the aisle come out in support of this in the last couple of months.
Keith Olbermann: Why is it they think they can get away with it now? Because we have sort of this overflow of economic news and everybody just turns it off?
Matt Taibbi: It completely boggles the mind. "Why now?" is one of the big questions that, you know, that I ask, and Bloomberg has doing a lot of stories. They've been asking this question. Nobody has a good answer because there is really no good reason to do this now in the middle of this historic debt argument about lost revenues and we're apparently so broke we can't forgo any revenue at all. And here we are, we're going to give a huge tax break to the biggest tax cheats in the country.
Keith Olbermann: Well, if you are a thief and you've already broken in, you try to stuff every pocket that you possibly can with all the money that you can grab. If somebody is going to hand you a jacket with more pockets in it, you'll carry that, too.
Matt Taibbi: I guess that's the rationale.
Keith Olbermann: That's the timing of it. Expand this into the debt deal. Is this the high water mark in regards to "fleecing America" to borrow an old phrase for the Tea Party, or do they see any other soft points that they might attack in the immediate future?
Matt Taibbi: I think this is the big one. I mean everybody talks about the tax breaks for corporations, for corporate jets. Even you and I talked once about the carried interest tax break for hedge funds.
But those tax breaks pale in comparison to this corporate tax holiday. We are talking about tens of billions of dollars perhaps per year, as many as 70 or 80 billion dollars a year lost to this tax avoidance. So this is a massive amount of lost revenue that we are talking about at a time when we're seriously considering slashing Medicare, student loans, all these essential programs for the middle class. And we're going to do this? It's completely counter intuitive.
Keith Olbermann: Assess the debt deal because you were standing right there as Paul Krugman said unfortunately, this is indeed, it's not an exaggeration to describe what's being done right now as Hoover-esque. As the government making itself as small as possible when it needs to be as big as possible, and in fact there should be more borrowing and pay that devil later on because if you don't get the economy restarted, it can really shrink, as Hoover found out, as Paul pointed out, as FDR found out in 1937 when he retrenched.
Matt Taibbi: He's absolutely right. This is a time when Americans are losing their jobs left and right. We absolutely need as much investment here at home as we possibly can. And on the surface, you know, the idea of bringing all of this money back home so that these companies can reinvest and create jobs is a great idea -- except that they are not doing that. In fact, what they are doing is converting all of this money, they are buying back their own stock. They are, you know, converting it into bonuses and executive compensation and they're cutting jobs. So this is exactly the opposite of what we want them to do.
Keith Olbermann: So you want to print out your piece and mail it to Senator Hagan? Apparently she's got the wrong end of the stick thinking this is going to create jobs. Great job polishing your corporate drone, as we'll find out in the Murdoch story later on.
Matt Taibbi: It's really amazing. You know the Bloomberg reporter, he called up Cisco. And he asked. And Cisco's been one of the main lobbyists on this topic, saying if we do this, it will create jobs. He asked them point blank if we do this are you going to create jobs? And they wouldn't answer it. So even under the spotlight they won't answer the question.
Keith Olbermann: It's like living in the time of Jay Gould. It's wonderful to think, they have everything but the lunch where they're all wearing the laurel wreaths. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone. Countdown Contributor. Good to see you as always.
Matt Taibbi: Good to see you.
#2 Worst Persons:
Here are Countdown's nominees for today's Worst Persons In The World.
The bronze to the new Political Action Committee:
The Campaign to Defeat Barrack Obama.
The Campaign to Defeat Barrack Obama.
That's the filing paperwork, and they don't know how to spell his name.
Asked if all those trying to defeat the President are dumb, or just these guys...
A spokesman replied....
"Uh-uh, duh, gee Tennessee."
Speaking of -- the Silver tonight...
Lonesome Rhodes Beck.
He's upset about the racial and ethnic heritage...of a cartoon.
Except he's not.
Except he is.
I'm glad he's not worried about it.
He thinks there's a plot involving Michele Obama and comic books.
I hate to break it to you, Glennie, but I can understand, given the wall you build between yourself and reality, how you don't know this...
Black and Hispanic people live here now, too.
And our winner: Senator Joe Lieberman, (L-Connecticut).
The "L" stands for "lingering."
Sadly, Mr. Lieberman has become a positive menace to the well-being of the people of this country.
This is the Senator describing why we and Senator Coburn have produced a scheme to scale down Social Security.
The idea that many Americans have been suffering from undiagnosed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder since 9/11 isn't mine, and it isn't new.
But given that Mr. Lieberman has for a decade continued to act as if it happened yesterday and was definitely going to happen again tomorrow, I think he should get himself checked.
Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut...
Today's Worst Person In The World.