The Thing Elizabeth Warren Missed About the Apple-Ireland Decision

She’s made quite a statement in the wake of the multi-billion euro judgment:

The Apple ruling is big, but it is only the latest international effort to end the deals that American multinationals have used to pay near-zero tax rates. The European Commission is investigating Luxembourg’s tax arrangements for Amazon and McDonald’s, and last year the European Court of Justice struck down tax advantages to companies and their subsidiaries selling e-books throughout Europe. Also last year, Britain enacted a new tax to target profits siphoned off by international companies — nicknamed, without much subtlety, the “Google tax.”

There are many things she says that, honestly, have merit.  Getting those done may not be the bed of roses she thinks it will be.  Harmonizing corporate taxes, for example, may require some countries to raise their rates while others lower them to “level the playing field,” and one of those who needs to lower them is us.

The big thing she’s missed, however, is that a great deal of the progressive agenda–especially on social issues–is driven these days by large tech corporations like Apple and Google.  These and others (like Facebook) have pushed a liberal social agenda while doing their shell games with the tax authorities.  (Think about the states of Indiana and North Carolina.)  Is she prepared to besmirch these organizations–and damage the agenda–in the name of economic fairness?

If she is, she’s going to find a lot of push-back, not only from the corporations themselves, but also from the progressive client groups who have benefited from these corporations’ funding and support.  In a sense, these corporations have used their social and environmental “goodness” to cover their tax avoidance methods, which should tell us something about all of this “goodness” they have.

Warren, the “faux Indian” business put aside, is really trying to follow in the Scots-Irish tradition of politicians such as Wright Patman and Carter Glass from the lofty heights of Old Ivy.  But those lofty heights include rubbing shoulders with hipsters from places like Apple and Google.  I guess we’ll find out whether she’s a good juggler or just falls into the net.

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