Cavuto purported to "correct" Obama with corporate tax falsehood

››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH

Fox News' Neil Cavuto stated that President Obama "misstate[d]" the facts on the U.S. corporate tax rate structure, and purporting to "correct" him, claimed that the U.S. corporate tax rate is "at a high 35 percent ... the highest in the industrialized world. That is un-debatable and unequivocal." In fact, while the U.S. statutory corporate tax rate is 35 percent, according to the Government Accountability Office, "Statutory tax rates do not provide a complete measure of the burden that a tax system imposes on business income." Additionally, World Bank and GAO data indicate that the U.S. effective corporate tax rate is lower than 35 percent and lower than several developed economies.

On the February 23 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto asserted of President Obama's remarks at the fiscal responsibility summit: "But there were a couple of things I did want to correct -- who am I to correct the president of the United States on -- but when he referred to the fact that looking at our corporate tax rate structure and that there isn't room for rates to grow, because they are low, was a bit of a misstatement here." Cavuto then claimed, "Our corporate tax rates in this country, at a high 35 percent, are the highest in the industrialized world. That is un-debatable and unequivocal. We have the highest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world, so I don't know where the president got that particular piece of information." But Cavuto's assertion that the United States indisputably has the highest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world is false. While the United States has a statutory corporate tax rate of 35 percent, according to an August 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), "Statutory tax rates do not provide a complete measure of the burden that a tax system imposes on business income because many other aspects of the system, such as exemptions, deferrals, tax credits, and other forms of incentives, also determine the amount of tax a business ultimately pays on its income." Indeed, World Bank and GAO data indicate that the U.S. effective corporate tax rate is lower than 35 percent and lower than several developed economies.

Cavuto's claim echoes assertions made in a January 30 Wall Street Journal editorial and in a January 29 Wall Street Journal op-ed by talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

In its August 2008 report, GAO estimated that "[t]he average U.S. effective tax rate on the domestic income of large corporations with positive domestic income in 2004 was an estimated 25.2 percent." Further, in its Paying Taxes 2009 publication, based on its 2009 Doing Business report, the World Bank-International Finance Corporation estimated that the United States has a lower effective rate of current corporate tax than several developed economies, including Germany and Italy. Moreover, in June 2007, the Treasury Department concluded that "[i]f special provisions were eliminated, the top corporate tax rate could be lowered to 27 percent or more than 40 percent expensing could be provided to all businesses for new the cost of tangible investments, and the tax system would produce the same level of revenue."

During the summit's question-and-answer session, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) said to Obama, "[P]eople thought it was relatively easy to dramatically reduce the rates that make us internationally competitive. The problems, of course, was the different views they have in how you handle the individual raise." Obama responded in part: "On the corporate side, I at least have always maintained that if we try to think in the same ways that we thought about it in 1986, and if you closed loopholes, you could actually lower rates." Obama added: "And that's an area where there should be the potential for some bipartisan agreement, because I think, on the books, the rates in the United States are high. In practice, depending on who it is that you can -- what kind of accountant you can hire, they're not so high. And that's an area where we can work on."

From the summit's question-and-answer session:

RANGEL: First let me thank you for bringing us together. The Secretary of Treasury provided a lot of leadership -- (inaudible) -- certainly recognize what (inaudible) -- that we do something. (Inaudible) -- thought of the tax structure, people thought it was relatively easy to dramatically reduce the rates that make us internationally competitive. The problems, of course, was the different views they have in how you handle the individual raise.

I don't think there's any committee in the House that would be more anxious to bring forth a product, whether it's in health care, tax reform or Social Security, to bring forth something in a bipartisan way. And I think this is a dramatic first step to see where we're going. As I said, I don't want to seem to be corny, but it would appear as though that if America recognized the crisis, that they're not looking for a Democratic or Republican solution. And in order for us to be politically successful, they're going have to believe that it was done in a bipartisan way.

So I think this initiative is a strong first step. I only hope at the end of the day we can come out, maybe not in total agreement, but certainly in a bipartisan way.

OBAMA: Just a quick thought on taxes, Charlie. My instinct is, is that you're absolutely right that the individual tax rate is always the hardest thing. There's some philosophical differences between the parties on this and I understand that.

On the corporate side, I at least have always maintained that if we try to think in the same ways that we thought about it in 1986, and if you closed loopholes, you could actually lower rates.

RANGEL: No question about it.

OBAMA: And that's an area where there should be the potential for some bipartisan agreement, because I think, on the books, the rates in the United States are high. In practice, depending on who it is that you can -- what kind of accountant you can hire, they're not so high. And that's an area where we can work on. Simplification, same thing. I don't think there's anybody out here who thinks that we are making it customer-friendly for the taxpayer. And that's an area where we can make some great progress.

RANGEL: Well, if you're looking for a fight and a partisan fight, any loophole you close is a tax increase. We have to get over that and make certain that the vast majority of businesses recognize it's in their best interest to do the right thing as relates to those who've taken unfair advantage of the government.

OBAMA: Well, you were here in '86 -- it's been done before. We might be able to get it done this time.

RANGEL: Well, under your leadership, I'm looking forward to it.

From the February 23 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: All right, a most unusual summit going on at the White House, actually the Old Executive Office Building right now. A pow-wow, if you will, of prominent Republican and Democratic leaders, some business leaders to boot, all saying that they have to longer-term address entitlement programs and the like. But after a while, it did have the feel of an AA meeting. I've been an alcoholic, and just admitting all your bygones.

But there were a couple of things I did want to correct -- who am I to correct the president of the United States on -- but when he referred to the fact that looking at our corporate tax rate structure and that there isn't room for rates to grow, because they are low, was a bit of a misstatement here. Our corporate tax rates in this country, at a high 35 percent, are the highest in the industrialized world. That is un-debatable and unequivocal. We have the highest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world, so I don't know where the president got that particular piece of information.

But he is being commended by Republicans and Democratic leaders alike for a longer term, trying to address the issues that are going to be the thorny ones. At the same time, he's trying to sort of get this economy going, longer-term addressing some of the deficits that this very stimulus package is producing.

Posted In
Economy, Taxes
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Neil Cavuto
Show/Publication
Your World w/ Neil Cavuto
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