Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"Who does this country work for?" Warren asked in her speech on corporate tax reform. (Photo: Senate Democrats/flickr/cc)

Elizabeth Warren Blasts Tax Plan as 'Giant Wet Kiss' to Corporate America

"The corporate giants are lined up to make sure tax changes tilt their way."

Deirdre Fulton

Denouncing a "rigged" system that favors corporations over middle-class Americans, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in a "must-watch" speech on Wednesday that any reform of the U.S. corporate tax code must force big businesses to "substantially increase" the amount of federal tax they pay. 

Warren's address at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. "staked out the left-wing position on corporate tax reform," Politico said, an issue Congress is expected to take on in 2016. She lambasted three proposals currently getting attention on Capitol Hill, including one supported by President Barack Obama.

"When I look at the details, I see the same rigged game—a game where Congress hands out billions in benefits to well-connected corporations, while people who really could use a break...are left holding the bag."
—Sen. Elizabeth Warren

She described that "deemed repatriation" plan—which would allow U.S. companies to pay less tax on profits generated abroad if that money is repatriated to the U.S.—as "a giant wet kiss for the tax dodgers who have already parked $2.1 trillion overseas."

"When I look at the details, I see the same rigged game," she said, "a game where Congress hands out billions in benefits to well-connected corporations, while people who really could use a break...are left holding the bag."

Warren pushed back on corporate claims that U.S. taxes are too high, citing a White House study that found companies' contribution to government tax revenue had dropped from $3 out of every $10 in the 1950s to $1 out of every $10 today.

"Only one problem with the over-taxation story: It’s not true," she said. "There is a problem with the corporate tax code, but that isn't it. It's not that taxes are far too high for giant corporations, as the lobbyists claim. No, the problem is that the revenue generated from corporate taxes is far too low."

For example, a recent analysis by the coalition Americans for Tax Fairness showed that drug giant Pfizer, in a bid to justify a Big Pharma mega-merger that would allow it to dodge taxes through what's known as a corporate inversion, had dramatically overstated its corporate tax rates and was in fact paying just a fraction of what it claimed. 

As Common Dreams has previously reported, America's Fortune 500 companies are notorious for "playing by different rules" when it comes to the federal tax system—adept at manipulating that system to avoid paying even a dime in tax on billions of dollars in U.S. profits.

The Huffington Post reports: "With Washington enamored by the idea of reforming the U.S. tax code in a bid to jump-start economic growth—a top priority of business interests—Warren's proposal represents one of the few offered to date by a top elected official that would significantly increase corporations' tax bills."

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal suggested that Warren's entry into the debate "may put pressure on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to either side with her or with Mr. Obama."

As Politico reports, Clinton "has supported higher corporate taxes, but has mentioned the subject little yet on the campaign trail during this presidential run...Bernie Sanders, Clinton's closest competitor for the Democratic nomination, has been more vocal about collecting more money from corporations."

In the end, Warren said, "what this tax battle is really about" is fairness.

"Who does this country work for?" she declared. "Is it just for the rich and the powerful, those who can hire those armies of lobbyists and lawyers? Or can we make this country work for millions of hard-working people?"

"This isn't a fair fight," she concluded. "The corporate giants are lined up to make sure tax changes tilt their way. America's working families don't have a zillion-dollar PR team to counter the false claim that corporate taxes are too high. Small businesses don’t have a zillion-dollar lobbying organization to fight back against tax giveaways for giant corporations."

Watch the full speech below:


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'I Had a Duty of Care': Doctor Praised for Violating Texas' New Abortion Ban

"I hope the law gets overturned," Dr. Alan Braid said, "and if this is what does it, that would be great."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Infuriating Disappointment': Biden DHS Ramping Up Deportations to Haiti

"It is unconscionable for the Biden administration to resume deportation flights to Haiti, despite the country's ongoing political, economic, and environmental disasters."

Jessica Corbett ·


Architect of Texas Abortion Ban Takes Aim at LGBTQ+ Rights While Urging Reversal of Roe

"Make no mistake, the goal is to force extreme, outdated, religious-driven values on all of us through the courts."

Jessica Corbett ·


Ahead of Canadian Election, Bernie Sanders and Rashida Tlaib Endorse NDP

"Bernie, you have fought courageously for public healthcare, affordable medication, making the rich pay their fair share, and tackling the climate crisis," said party leader Jagmeet Singh. "We're doing the same here."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Urged to End Drone Strikes After Pentagon Says Killing 10 Afghan Civilians Was 'Horrible Mistake'

"That was not a 'mistake,'" said journalist Anand Giridharadas. "War crimes are not oopsies."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo