7.20.2012

If you depants a Republican Senator and his campaign chest is full, does he make a sound?

Today the Senate entertained and failed a motion to create tax incentives for bring American business operations overseas back home.

Money goes where it's treated best. So when one part of your your government acts to make it more attractive to bring jobs to the US, and another part of your government blocks it, what do you want to focus on? The failure of the first part to get good things done? Or the motives of the second part to refuse consideration?

Here's an excerpt of Bernie Sanders' response to the vote:

[T]oday’s proposal was, was very, very modest. What it says is that right now, you can get a business tax deduction if you shut down a plant and you send your machinery to China or to Mexico or someplace else. That’s an expensive proposition. And you can deduct that from your taxable income.

And so what the bill did today says, you can’t do that. In fact, however, if you want to move from China back into the United States, we will allow you to deduct those expenses. We will encourage you to come home.

So I think it is pretty much of a no-brainer. We got three Republican votes. But once again they filibustered this important piece of legislation.


This is the kind of incentive that some people complain states like California refuse to embrace at their own risk: "treating money better" means creating a welcome mat of tax breaks that should at least keep companies where they are. Yet now we find out that when there's even a modest attempt in that direction, Republicans are against it.

Why? One suggestion in the moment is simple politics. Voting for such an act is synonymous with repudiating Mitt Romney, who has made his money doing exactly this kind of work.

Really? What business operations does Mitt Romney have overseas?

Even if it was a clear and demonstrable political exposure, I could appreciate any politician who said, "Hey, you know what, the rules changed. NAFTA, permanent trade relations with China, and more. I played by those rules. I won big. But our situation is different now. In politics you confront the situation that's given to you. We as a country can't afford to think this way anymore."

That, in my book, is the statement of a person who is campaigning to govern, and not merely win.

So what is it really? Let's take a fair guess that any win for the economy, as Republicans calculate, might in fact appear as a win for the President, and they can't have that.

It seems simple to me, as it has been since the dawn of the 112th Congress: party first, the country second.

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