A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column about an aspiring left-wing talk radio network in the hopes that those of us who want to improve this country would eventually wise up and fight the conservatives on their own turf.
Because, after years of the left withdrawing into an upper-middle class shell and fighting battles irrelevant to most Americans, the need for shouting out and taking names is more important than ever.
Advertisements criticizing U.S. companies that move their headquarters offshore to avoid paying taxes, began airing across the country last week.
Focusing mainly on the home districts of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and House Majority Leader Tom Delay, the ads question the patriotism of these companies moving their headquarters offshore to Bermuda or the Cayman Islands in a process is called “corporate inversion.”
A company sets up a small shell headquarters in a foreign country while keeping most executives and jobs in the United States.
Perfectly legal due to loopholes in federal law, but the scam costs the federal government billions of dollars in taxes each year.
Worst of all, the loopholes have never been closed due to the efforts of powerful corporate lobbyists.
The ads themselves compare American soldiers at war with a corporate executive.
“In the sands of Iraq, soldiers risk their lives for this country,” says the voiceover.
“At the same time, big corporations are abandoning our country and setting up phony tax shelters in the sands of Bermuda.”
Funded by a group called The Bermuda Project, which includes author and columnist Arianna Huffington and the long-distance company Working Assets, the ads aim at, in Huffington’s words, people who are “really cheating America, and [they’re] cheating every American who plays by the rules.”
According to John Feehery, spokesperson for Rep. Hastert, Republican leaders plan to examine the corporate tax system and consider removing incentives for CEOs to relocate overseas.
“Our companies are unfairly discriminated against in U.S. taxes”, he said.
Whether these ads will actually lead to any changes is an empty question.
After the Enron, Worldcom and Tyco scandals of the past few years, shady corporate behavior has turned out to be a given in American culture.
Will people be riled up enough by the ads to hector Hastert and Delay into action? Or, will it just turn out to be the usual apathy, despite the fact that offshore companies are causing us to pay more in taxes?
Neal Ungerleider can be reached at N_terminal@yahoo.com.