Lower Corporate Tax Rates. Now.

Photo Credit: bnycastro / Creative Commons

Photo Credit: bnycastro / Creative Commons

The Obama administration is highly exercised about “inversion,” the practice by which an American corporation acquires a foreign company and moves its headquarters out of the United States to benefit from lower tax rates abroad.

Not fair, says Barack Obama. It’s taking advantage of an “unpatriotic tax loophole” that hardworking American families have to make up for by the sweat of their brow. His treasury secretary calls such behavior a violation of “economic patriotism.”

Nice touch. Democrats used to wax indignant about having one’s patriotism questioned. Now they throw around the charge with abandon, tossing it at corporations that refuse to do the economically patriotic thing of paying the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world.

Odder still because Democrats routinely ridicule the very notion of corporations as persons. When Mitt Romney suggested that corporations were people in 2011, Democrats mocked him right through Election Day. In the Hobby Lobby case, they challenged the very idea that corporations can have religious convictions. Now, however, Democrats are demanding that corporations exercise a patriotic conscience. Which is it?

Moreover, corporations have an indisputable fiduciary responsibility to protect their shareholders’ interest. Surely Walgreens betrayed this responsibility when it caved to administration pressure and canceled its plans to move its headquarters to Switzerland. The inversion would’ve saved it billions of dollars. Its cancellation caused an instant 14 percent drop in Walgreens shares.

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