Throughout the recent debates in Washington over whether taxes should be increased, one group has consistently maintained its opposition: the leaders of American businesses.When did greed get in the way of responsible citizenship (especially from corporate "citizens")? Apparently, not that long ago. It sure seems like that never was the case. Reading Rick Perlstein, you realize the NAM was into some pretty radical politicking. But at least they were sensible about taxation through much of this time. Ah, the good ol' days...
Large U.S. corporations haven’t always been opposed to tax increases, however. In fact, as recently as 1989, and for decades before, big companies routinely called for tax increases, even on themselves, to balance the budget.
Groups such as the Committee for Economic Development, the Business Roundtable, and even the more conservative National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, called for tax increases on a number of occasions, under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
In 1950, shortly after the U.S. entered the Korean War, the CED, the Chamber of Commerce and the NAM all supported increasing taxes to raise funds for the war. In March 1951, the CED recommended a $10 billion tax increase to prevent inflation. “Taxes are already very high,” the group said. “Now we need still higher taxes -- higher than we have ever had before, even at their wartime peak.”
Three years later, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower sought an extension of the wartime excess-profits tax on corporations, the CED supported the idea, drawing praise from the editorial page of the New York Times.
Later in the decade, the group supported an increase in gasoline taxes to fund the interstate highway system. In 1966, it called for a temporary increase in the income tax to counter the deficit resulting from the Vietnam War, noting that it should be of a kind that can “yield the revenue needed, that can be quickly imposed, that will be accepted by the country, and that can be easily withdrawn when the emergency has passed.”
The Business Roundtable, a group of Fortune 500 executives that, after its formation in 1973, began to replace the CED as the leading representative for big businesses, supported tax increases for individuals even as it sought reductions in corporate taxes. In response to the deficits that resulted from President Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, the Roundtable called for an increase in income-tax rates, even though its high-earning members would pay a disproportionate price.
As late as 1989, after George H.W. Bush was elected president on a promise of “Read my lips, no new taxes,” Fortune magazine printed a story with the headline, “CEOs to Bush: Raise Taxes Now.” Bush did in fact acquiesce to a tax increase, a decision that many believe cost him re-election in 1992.
It was only after President George W. Bush’s tax cuts created deficits even larger than those of the Reagan years that big businesses suddenly refused to call for tax increases.
Friday, March 8, 2013
Remember When Big Business Was For Higher Taxes?
Me neither, but Bloomberg does: