Today I want to connect some dots. What do congressional Republicans, Joe Manchin, and Hungary’s Viktor Orban have in common? They all oppose the Biden administration’s proposed global minimum corporate tax — designed to stop corporations from playing one country against another in a worldwide race to the tax bottom.
The reason for Manchin’s opposition? As he told a West Virginia radio host on Friday, other countries have yet to adopt the tax and he doesn’t want to put American companies at a competitive disadvantage.
This, my friends, is utter baloney. More than 100 other countries have already agreed to the global minimum tax, including all European Union members except Hungary. It’s the United States that’s the laggard.
The reason for Hungary’s opposition? As Hungary recently revealed, Republicans in Congress secretly asked Hungary to block it. (Each country in the European Union has veto power over the bloc’s tax agreements.) Top Republicans in the House Ways and Means Committee even sent a letter to the Hungarian ambassador to the U.S., thanking him for Hungary’s help.
Think about it. One of America’s two political parties has been in cahoots with Europe’s most authoritarian government, to allow global corporations based in the United States to avoid paying ever more of what they owe the United States.
It’s jaw-dropping. Republicans who march under the banner of nationalism — “American first,” “control our borders,” “Make America Great Again” — eagerly conspire with foreign governments to make America’s borders even more porous to global capital and deprive America of needed tax revenue. While they criticize supposed “global elites” that have “hollowed out” America’s heartland, they connive with global elites to make them even richer.
Missouri Republican Senator Josh HawIey — who fist-bumped January 6 rioters at the Capitol — relishes attacking what he calls “the cosmopolitan economy” of global corporations that “move jobs and assets overseas to chase the cheapest wages and pay the lowest taxes.” Yet Hawley opposes the global minimum tax. “I don't know that it’ll really work,” he says, “so I'm skeptical about it.”
We’re way beyond hypocrisy here. We’re in a realm of duplicity that should make even a Trump blush.
Follow the money. Big corporations want to to shift ever more of their profits to low-tax nations. So they’re using a small portion of their humongous profits to bribe Republican lawmakers and a few Democrats like Manchin to vote against the global minimum.
What’s Hungary’s interest? Start with the fact that Viktor Orban and his government don’t believe in democracy. They’re pushing white Christian nationalism instead.
It’s the same culture war advanced by the likes of Trump, Tucker Carlson, Steve Bannon, Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert, and Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, among others.
White Christian nationalism is the perfect foil for the rising tide of global corporate predation. This way, sovereignty becomes a matter of race and ethnicity rather than economics. Focusing on immigrants “replacing” the white race diverts attention from how much tax revenue global corporations are forcing average people to replace.
A similar coalition between global capitalists and nationalist cultural warriors in the 1920s set the stage for the horrors of the 1930s and the ravages of World War II. Beware.