Recently, prompted by a Republican rant about how America’s economy and the world would be better off if we would only get government off the backs of corporations, I engaged in a sometimes dangerous exercise. I started thinking about it. Almost every speech Mitt Romney or his surrogates make contains the same philosophy. They talk about how, if we simply gave tax breaks to corporations and rich people, and did away with the oppressive regulations, we would free up the job creators to produce untold numbers of jobs, and we would all once again be prosperous, rolling in dough.
Mostly, the regulations corporations cite as being oppressive are first and foremost regulations dealing with environmental concerns. In fact, Rick Perry, our governor, who jumps every time the big money boys say frog, even had the state of Texas sue the federal government to avoid implementing regulations to keep our air clean. Second, usually on the list of complaints is that we should not be taxing corporations at all; and if so, only a small amount. Of late, we’ve been hearing about unreasonable safety regulations, and the fact the government system since Taft Hartley has allowed labor unions, particularly in the private sector, to enjoy benefits such as vacation time, hospitalization and other luxuries that corporations deem too expensive to allow them to do business with American workers.
Suppose we had a free society of unregulated and untaxed corporations. What do you think, would happen in regard to the areas now regulated by our national government? What about the safety of workers? Suppose we let corporations operate their refineries, for example, in any manner they chose, free from regulation having to do with pollution. Could any mother feel comfortable living in a community where emissions carrying carcinogens were exposing her children to such diseases as asthma, leukemia or other cancers? Suppose we didn’t have OSHA to regulate safety in the workplace? Could any family feel comfortable sending their breadwinner into a place where safety was ignored in favor of higher profits? Do you think the good ole boys who love to fish on weekends could afford bass boats and places on the lake if corporations were allowed to repudiate union contracts that guaranteed decent wages, dignified treatment and benefits? How about taxes? Should we allow corporations to pay only what they volunteer to pay to support their communities? Do you really believe corporations would pony up enough to help keep our schools open and provide police and fire protection?
I agree that without regulations business would certainly be more profitable. However, there must be a balance between the quality of life we all desire while maintaining an environment where businesses can make a profit. I cite as an example the major oil companies who operate out of the United States of America. With all of the “onerous” union contracts, government oversight, safety and environmental regulations, for the past few years oil companies have made huge multibillion-dollar profits. At a time when America needs more revenue, big oil is fighting to hold onto these multibillion-dollar corporate welfare payments.
Current Republican plans for adding jobs are simply to curtail spending on such things as Social Security and Medicare while cutting the corporate tax rate and bringing the tax on invested money to zero. In interviews, Romney and Paul Ryan claim the cost associated with giving corporations and the mega-rich folks further tax breaks will be more than made up for by reforming the tax code and closing loopholes. Very few specifics have leaked out concerning what kind of loopholes Republicans intend to close; however, there has been some indication that items under consideration would include taxing health care benefits furnished by employers and disallowing the deductions of interest payments on home mortgages. Every working American should ask themselves if it would it be better for America to tax health benefits furnished by employers or not allow deductions for interest payments on a home while continuing multi-million dollar subsidies to oil companies that have gasoline prices at record highs and are enjoying multibillion-dollar profits.
Carl Parker has practiced law in Port Arthur since 1958. He is a 1958 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. Elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and the Senate in 1976, Parker continued to practice law while writing and sponsoring hundreds of bills that became laws relating to