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O’Reilly Blames Obama For GE’s Tax Avoidance

Reported by Ellen - March 26, 2011 -

The New York Times came out with a lengthy article about how General Electric, despite having a very good year that earned them more than $14 billion in profit, $5.1 billion of which came from U.S operations, managed to owe absolutely no corporate income taxes for 2010. Never mind that the article also noted that many other companies have employed strategies to bring corporate tax receipts to new lows. Bill O’Reilly seized on the cozy relationship between President Obama and GE, compared that to his own tax bill of “millions,” and suggested that he was being penalized because he’s a conservative.

“This is unbelievable!” O’Reilly fumed.

He was right about that but for reasons other than the one he meant. The Times noted that GE is especially skilled at lowering its tax rate but, as the Wonk Room reported in August, 2008 (Memo to Fox News watchers: That was before Barack Obama had been elected, much less sworn in), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report showing that between 1998 and 2005 “about two-thirds of corporations operating in the United States did not pay taxes.” The Washington Post noted in its own August, 2008 story on the GAO report, that in 2005, 28 percent of large corporations paid no taxes. From 1998 to 2005, 66 percent of U.S. companies overall also paid no taxes.

Funny, I don’t remember anyone fuming about that on Fox News – until now.

O’Reilly continued, “Last year, General Electric made 14 billion dollars in profit worldwide, including 5 billion in profit in the U.S.A. Yet General Electric paid zero, NOTHING in taxes to the feds. As you may know, GE boss, Jeffrey Immelt – big supporter President Obama and vice versa.”

O’Reilly played a clip of Obama praising Immelt, then asked, “So the question, how could GE pay absolutely nothing to the government and how can I get that deal?” You didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out where O’Reilly was heading.

O’Reilly went on to say that he’s doing his taxes “as we speak” and boasted that he’s “gonna pay millions of dollars to the federal government this year. Millions.” Gee, it must be tough to owe so much, Bill. I’m really crying for you to have a tax bill many, many times higher than most people's annual earnings. Times sure are tough for multimillionaires, I guess.

Guest Lou Dobbs explained that GE made use of a loophole “bought” by lobbyists and added, “This is being done across, all across the country by major corporations. There’s an estimated trillion dollars sitting out there in unrepatriated profits… money that they’ve made that they’re not bringing back into the United States, they’re leaving it in their bank accounts overseas.”

But O’Reilly conveniently ignored that little balancing aspect to ask, “How can Barack Obama say to me, I wanna tax the rich – and that means you, O’Reilly – to the max. But I’m gonna allow my buddy, Jeffrey Immelt and General Electric, who actively supported my election campaign, by the way, as aggressively as any media company (because at that time GE owned NBC), has ever done in the history of this country – EVER! (Oh, we’d beg to differ with you there, Bill. Anyone remember the Swift Boat Veterans?)…And then Obama appoints Immelt to (inaudible) and turns around and says, ‘I’m gonna tax you but I’m not gonna tax him!’”

Dobbs said, “We are now focused on 2012, Bill, and this is part of the deal. He (Obama) is going to curry favor with corporations and Wall Street, just like he did in 2008.”

O’Reilly was still irate. “It’s so hypocritical… I’m just beside myself.”

Speaking of hypocritical, where has O’Reilly been all these years that companies have avoided paying income taxes? How did he miss the part of the Times article that stated:

Although the top corporate tax rate in the United States is 35 percent, one of the highest in the world, companies have been increasingly using a maze of shelters, tax credits and subsidies to pay far less… Such strategies, as well as changes in tax laws that encouraged some businesses and professionals to file as individuals, have pushed down the corporate share of the nation’s tax receipts — from 30 percent of all federal revenue in the mid-1950s to 6.6 percent in 2009.

Not surprisingly, O’Reilly never identified a single step Obama supposedly took to help GE or anyone else avoid paying taxes. It was all innuendo.

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