On August 5th, 2011, the Barefoot Accountant interviewed Susan Bysiewicz, a Connecticut Democratic candidate for the United States Senate. In part 1 of that interview, Susan Bysiewicz discussed how the government can create jobs in America today.
In the second part of that same interview, presented herein, Susan discusses how to make free trade fair trade, government contracts to foreign entities, corporate taxation and repatriation of profits, Citizens United case and the Clean Elections Law.
How to Make Free Trade Fair Trade?
The Barefoot Accountant: We have free trade agreements, but do you think they are fair trade agreements? A lot of jobs have been sent overseas. I recently called the Hartford Courant regarding my subscription, and I contacted someone in the Philippines. I was surprised by that. And when I call AT&T and Comcast for my local service, I am transferred to someone in India, China, the Philippines, or elsewhere.
What can we do to make our free trade agreements fair trade agreements?
Susan Bysiewicz: That’s precisely the issue. NAFTA, it is estimated, has sent about a million jobs out of our country. And we have negotiated some other free trade agreements. I’d like to see free trade agreements become fair trade agreements.
And by that I mean there should be a level playing field. And there isn’t at the moment because other countries do not have the environmental regulations, the safety regulations, the labor laws that we do, that protect our workers and protect our environment.
And I am a very strong supporter of the Fair Trade Act that Representative Michaud of Maine has proposed. And what that legislation says is that we should renegotiate the free trade legislation that has been passed to make sure that it is fair. That is, if there is a level playing field with other countries with respect to labor, environmental, and safety laws.
Government Contracts to Foreign Entities
The Barefoot Accountant: Related to that, I have witnessed a number of tax returns of people working overseas in the Middle East, they are working for companies that were set up by companies here in the United States to avoid the labor laws and the tax laws. I won’t mention any names, but these are government contracts and we are giving them to foreign entities who are not complying with our labor laws and so forth.
How would you address problems such as these?
Susan Bysiewicz: I guess I would say this. If we are going to give government contracts to private companies, then we ought to look at whether they are complying with all of our laws and regulations because we certainly shouldn’t reward companies with lucrative federal contracts if they are not abiding by other federal laws, particularly tax laws.
And I think you’ve alluded to another issue with your question, which is, should we change some of the tax laws that actually encourage American companies to go overseas. And I think that’s important to take a look at because we shouldn’t have a tax code that encourages our companies to go outside of our own country.
Corporation Taxation – Repatriation of Corporate Profits
The Barefoot Accountant: Let’s explore that further. Would you be in favor of repatriating corporate profits at 3% to 5%? Congress and the Administration are already talking about that. These large corporations now, instead of paying 35% or 38% corporate tax rates, want to bring their corporate profits back to the United States and only pay 2-1/2%, 3%, maybe 5% at most.
Susan Bysiewicz: Look, I think that we should explore ways to get companies back here and encourage them to be investing in our country. I think an even bigger problem though is this: it’s estimated by the Congressional Budget Office that 55% of American companies are not paying any corporate income tax. And so what we ought to be doing is reviewing our tax code to ensure that we streamline it: that we get rid of a lot of our tax loopholes because the sad reality is we have the best tax code that money can buy.
You have a lot of really big corporations that have used lobbyists and PACs down in Washington to get very favorable tax treatment. And it’s not fair. So if we want to get our country out of this huge hole that we are in, it seems to me that we should revise our tax code, get rid of those loopholes, and we probably could even reduce the corporate tax rate because we’d be raising more revenue because every corporation would be paying their fair share.
Sherman Anti-Trust Act – Citizens United Case
The Barefoot Accountant: We are touching upon a subject that I wanted to discuss at the end of our interview, so maybe we can talk about it now. It’s about the size of big business. When I was growing up, I would hear the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. I don’t hear that term much anymore. There seems to be these large conglomerates, and they are too big to fail, too big to jail. And they seem to have a lot of influence on our government. Some even think that they control the government. How can we control and separate big business from government?
Susan Bysiewicz: Well, I think that one of the reasons we are in this place has to do with a Supreme Court decision called the Citizens United case. And that case in essence says that corporations are people and that corporations can spend as much as they want to support or to defeat particular candidates. And I believe that history will show that this is one of the worst decisions that the Supreme Court has made over the past hundred years.
Unlimited corporate contributions were never allowed prior to that case. And so, I tell you this, that the first bill that I would co-sponsor when I get to Washington will be the one that has currently been proposed to create a clean elections law at the federal level parallel to the clean elections law that I fought for here in Connecticut.
And that law is very simple. It says that in Connecticut if you would like to run for statewide office or for the legislature, you’d have to raise a large number of small contributions to show support. And then once you do that, each candidate for that office who participates in the program gets the same amount of money from the clean elections fund. And I think that we should have that same system in place at the federal level.
We now had a couple of very successful elections in Connecticut. And as a result, the elections are about people and issues, and they are not about special interests or political action committees. And I think that is very, very healthy for the process, and I would love to see that same system brought to our federal government.
The Barefoot Accountant: I agree 100%.
[End of Part II of Interview.]
For those of you who wish to support and contribute to Susan Bysiewicz’s campaign, you may do so by clicking on the following link: