Since 2000, heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar has moved profits to a wholly-owned Swiss affiliate in order to evade paying $2.4 billion in US taxes. During a hearing of the Senate investigations committee on Tuesday, one person in the room thought the company should be congratulated for that creative accounting.
Caterpillar got support from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who questioned why the subcommittee was even holding the hearing.
“I think rather than having an inquisition, we should probably bring Caterpillar here and give them an award,” Paul said. “You know, they’ve been in business for over 100 years. It’s not easy to stay in business.”
Paul said Caterpillar and its accountants have an obligation to shareholders to minimize their taxes.
“It is a requirement that you try to minimize your costs. So rather than chastising Caterpillar we should be complimenting them,” Paul said.
This seems like an excellent time to remind everyone that Rand Paul so disliked recertification requirements for his ophthalmology practice that he created his own fake ophthalmic association to recertify himself and stay in business. Whenever he is confronted with his own record, Senator Paul has always reacted with petulant disregard for what anyone else thinks: he minimized and denied charges of plagiarism last year, then moved his column to Breitbart.com after the Washington Times ended its relationship with him, all the while telling reporters that it was no big deal and that he could not understand why anyone cared.
When his newsletter writer Jack Hunter was revealed to be the neoconfederate trash-talking “Southern Avenger,” Paul refused to fire him and denied that his aide held white supremacist views. Hunter eventually resigned to “end the distraction,” whereupon Rand Paul declared that he would just not talk about it anymore, even though he still hangs out with Hunter.
This latest episode with Caterpillar is perfectly in keeping with the senator’s past behavior and current connections. Paul has also endorsed BlogBash, an annual party at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that has been held by Ali Akbar’s National Bloggers Club. As we told you several weeks ago, however, the NBC has never paid its franchise taxes and fees in Texas. To someone like Paul, that is perfectly logical behavior consistent with basic libertarian principles of never, ever paying taxes.
But for the rest of us who cannot use accounting tricks with Swiss subsidiaries, it is a great big middle finger. Taxes are for the little people, not big corporations or the friends of Republican senators. If you tell Rand Paul that the tax burden has shifted too much from corporations to individuals in the last 30 years, or that offshore tax shelters play an outsize role in the squeeze on the middle class, Rand Paul will tell you that it is just the way things are supposed to be, and that we should give awards to the companies that best represent his vision of a libertarian future.