Proving once again that he who frames the debate wins the argument, it is disturbingly obvious how NBC News and their barely-useful tool David Gregory want to push for the "Grand Bargain", the solution that the Bowles-Simpson commission couldn't get approved by their own members, much less Congress. We have a fragile, slow recovery--one in which reputable economists have said would be damaged greatly by the Grand Bargain--and yet, these Very. Important. Villagers. inside the Beltway don't care how much their touted "solution" hurts America. So they get Simpson-Bowles Commission member and Honeywell CEO David Cotes (who has been pushing the Grand Bargain since before the election) to insist on easily debunkable talking points to convince Americans that it's far more important to reduce their Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security benefits so that the very wealthy (like David Cote) don't feel unfairly picked on by raising their taxes to Clinton-era levels.
Cotes, let us not forget, also thinks that taxes for corporations (enjoying unprecedented levels of profit), should be zero:
Honeywell CEO David Cote said yesterday – when his goons weren’t yanking the microphone away from a labor reporter asking a question – that the ideal corporate tax rate should be zero percent:
SORKIN: David, I have a tax question for you. What do you think the ultimate effective tax rate should be on corporations?
COTE: The problem is from a fairness perspective, nobody would be able to stand it. But at the the end of the day, jobs come from companies and if we wanted to create the most effective foreign direct investment pipeline you’ve ever seen, we would have the lowest rate possible.
So the only barrier to a 0% corporate tax rate, in Cote’s mind, is that the plebeians might have a problem with it. Otherwise, it’s race race race to the bottom.
Right-wing corporate titan, fish gotta swim, no matter, right? Except that Cote sat on the Bowles-Simpson catfood commission designed to reduce deficits. And his instinct is to completely relieve the tax burden from corporations which are experiencing a record in profits as a percentage of GDP. Barack Obama appointed Cote to that position on the catfood commission. And the President is actually speaking at a Honeywell facility in Minnesota today (just over the border from Wisconsin, by the way, on the eve of the biggest election outside of November happening in just a few days).
Honeywell has been laying off entire plants of union workers and driving down wages and benefits for their employees, while its CEO took home $37 million last year. And as an additional reward for this, David Cote gets plum spots on Presidential commissions where he gets a platform to call for the elimination of corporate taxes, which considering that we already have one of the lowest corporate tax rates in effective terms in the world, and job growth is still basically a disaster, is bad policy in addition to being nakedly aggrandizing.
Self-aggrandizement aside, let me just state for the record: Cotes isn't holding off on hiring because of taxes or insecurity on the debt. That is bullpucky of grand bargain proportions. If the demand for more of Honeywell's products exceeded what they could manage with the current staff, damned straight that Cotes would approve hiring. The national debt is not scaring away investors. The Dow Jones is near its all time high levels. If anything, all of this media fear-mongering over the "fiscal cliff" (which is neither a cliff nor as urgent as the media would have you believe) and the fail safe of the deficit (which is not the same as debt, though frequently conflated in coverage) is scaring investors, and even then, not very much, as the record profits show.
I've said this before and I'll say it again: there are solutions to these problems that will not hurt the majority of Americans, especially those who can afford it the least. But before we can get to those solutions, we need to stop setting up the debate with only one side being represented.