George W. Bush on Corporations
President of the United States, Former Republican Governor (TX)
The House had passed a bill offering $25 billion in loans to the auto companies in exchange for making their fleets more fuel-efficient. But the Senate wouldn't budge. The only option left was to loan money from TARP. I wanted to use the loans as an opportunity to insist that the automakers develop viable business plans. Under the loans' stringent terms, the companies would have until April 2009 to become self-sustaining by restructuring their operations & renegotiating labor contracts. If they could not meet all those conditions, the loans would be immediately called, forcing bankruptcy.
The president had asked for proposals to stimulate the economy: cut the corporate tax by 20%; change tax laws to allow small businesses to take better advantage of tax write-offs; repeal the corporate minimum tax; and allow companies to write off current losses against past profits for a longer period.
Gephardt agreed that something needed to be done. But he suggested instead sending out rebate checks to low- & moderate-income households. Our team had considered rebates, but decided they would be used to pay down credit card debt, and not stimulate the economy.
We'd get less economic bang for our money and fewer jobs would be created, but the president wanted to signal to Gephardt he was willing to drop one of his positions in order to pick up one of Gephardt's. I thought Bush was being overly generous.
So now, in the devastation of late 2008, the unimaginable notion that the federal government might stand idly by as the American auto industry crashed and burned seemed all too frighteningly plausible. [However, Bush funded a $17B bailout.]
BUSH: I own a timber company? That’s news to me. Need some wood?
FACT CHECK: In fact, according to his 2003 financial disclosure form, Bush does own part interest in “LSTF, LLC”, a limited-liability company organized “for the purpose of the production of trees for commercial sales.” So Bush was wrong to suggest that he doesn’t have ownership of a timber company. And Kerry was correct in saying that Bush’s definition of “small business” is so broad that Bush himself would have qualified as a “small business” in 2001 by virtue of the $84 in business income. We should clarify: the $84 in Schedule C income was from Bush’s Lone Star Trust, which is described on the 2001 income-tax returns as an oil and gas production business. The Lone Star Trust now owns 50% of the tree-growing company, but didn’t get into that business until two years after the $84 in question.
KERRY: That’s just not true. The Wall Street Journal said 96% of small businesses are not affected at all by my plan. And you know why he gets that count? The president got $84 from a timber company that[he partly] owns, and he’s counted as a small business. Dick Cheney’s counted as a small business. That’s how they do things. That’s just not right.
BUSH: I own a timber company? That’s news to me. Need some wood? Most small businesses are Subchapter S corps. 70% of the new jobs in America are created by small businesses. Taxes are going up when you run up the top two brackets. It’s a fact.
What makes the free market ideology stronger than ever is that it is now powered by the nexus of money and politics that dominates our political process.
"No more easy money for corporate criminals, just hard time," President Bush said when he signed the corporate reform bill in July 2002. It was supposed to usher in the new era of corporate responsibility, but the new era message is nothing but a Madison Avenue gimmick--a "new and improved" label slapped on the same old package of deceit.
Watching the president smile for the cameras as he signed a reform bill he had never supported, I couldn't help but wonder if the glint in his eye was because he knew something the rest of us didn't. That for all his get-tough promises, the bill would actually do very little to reduce the level of corporate influence over our government.
The tone of much of the reporting on Enron insinuated that the Bush team was somehow complicit in the Enron debacle or, at any rate, had benefited from Enron’s fraud. Enron was often described as Bush’s “biggest supporter.” This was crazy. Different sources add up the money in different ways, but if you total every dollar that Enron, its affiliates, and its executives and their families gave to Bush’s two gubernatorial campaigns, his run for president, the recount fight, the Republican convention in 2000, and the Bush inaugural in 2001, you would arrive at a figure of at most $1 million.
He asks us to join together in common purpose but then gives energy companies freedom to pollute, gives airline companies massive bailouts without a penny for thousands of airline employees who lose their jobs, proposes to restore the 3-martini tax-deductible lunch beloved by Washington lobbyists, and wants to eliminate the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax enacted 15 years ago to make sure big companies don't exploit so many tax loopholes they avoid paying taxes altogether. And he wants to eliminate it RETROACTIVELY so the big companies can get back whatever minimum taxes they paid over the past 15 years. True patriots should not accept any of this.
Ken Lay and Enron were Bush’s leading supporters, contributing $113,800 directly to his campaign and another $888,265 to the Republican National Committee, an arm of the campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Bush repaid Lay and other “Pioneers”--those who raised $100,000 or more for his campaign--with his shameful tax plan. He continues to push for a stimulus plan that benefits corporations over workers. He is pressing Congress to pass the Enron energy plan, which features massive subsidies to energy companies and further deregulation.
A 1995 study by Public Citizen, a watchdog group founded by Ralph Nader, later released a report to the Associated Press that showed 3/4 of the companies in which Bush owned stock, were defendant corporations and could be drastically affected by lawsuit reforms.
The governor claimed that tort reform was "good for business" in Texas, and that everyone benefited because insurance premiums would fall. However, in the following years, rates did not decline and the insurance industry recorded profits at a 40-year high.
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