Maintaining favor in the public eye as well as regularly excusing themselves from public scrutiny or legal consequence, the U.S.’s most powerful corporations continue enabling their national stranglehold through hypocritical and strategically publicized political commentary. Propelling American politics’ rapid degeneration into political theater, modern displays of hypocrisy, greed and subservience to corporate interests carried out by the nation’s elected officials are covered in an absurdly similar manner to sports, incorporating compelling visual graphics and combative celebrity commentators.
Serving as nothing short of an insult to struggling middle and lower-class citizens, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy’s recent study concludes that at minimum, 55 of the largest U.S.-based corporations paid nothing in federal income taxes last year, despite collectively generating billions of dollars in profit. Additionally, 26 of the total outlined in the study are listed as Fortune 500 companies and include household brands such as Nike and FedEx. According to a recently published article in the New York Times, the 26 documented companies “were able to avoid paying any federal income tax for the last three years even though they reported a combined income of $77 billion. Many also received millions of dollars in tax rebates.”
Former President Donald Trump left an unsightly blemish on an already remarkably controversial presidency after signing the $1.5 trillion tax bill that successfully passed into law in 2017 under a Republican Congress. Following Trump’s executive approval, the legislation steadily lessened the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, according to the same article. Possibly working to fulfill some of his progressive-oriented campaign promises, President Joe Biden’s latest national investment proposal, which he calls “the American Jobs Plan,” involves flooding traditional government infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, with a steady, government-funded stream of $2 trillion.
Biden’s successfully passed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package and proposed infrastructural plan, are likely jointly responsible for if not spawning, then at least contributing to the record-setting budget deficit climb up to $1.05 trillion in only five short months. Interestingly enough, Biden’s stimulus relief offers fewer citizens financial relief than the provisions under the Trump administration’s CARES Act. According to a March 10 report published by the Associated Press, the U.S. Treasury Department reported the “October through February deficit was 68% larger than the $624.5 billion deficit recorded during the same period last year.” Moreover, it surpasses the previous five-month deficit period record of $652 billion, which was cemented in 2010 as an adverse effect of the 2008 recession.
Presenting a lengthy answer to a fairly straightforward question during her March 6 appearance on CNN, progressive member of Alexandria Ocasio Ortez’s “the Squad” and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar conveyed an oddly calm sense of composure when asked whether or not Biden is abandoning progressives. The interview occurred in the aftermath of COVID-19 relief caps tightening, which resulted in a decreasing reach of the bill’s provided financial relief. Appearing unphased by this sweeping blow, Omar answered the question with, “I see it as a really disappointing development. We obviously are now ultimately sending money to less people than the Trump administration and the Senate majority Republicans.”
Democrats and progressive representatives’ collective failure in delivering on their promised $15 minimum wage, as well as ensuring $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks, embodies a larger prevailing issue of illusionary progressivism. This issue runs fairly rampant in the realm of corporate activism. Relatively similar in ambition and cost, Biden’s proposed infrastructural plan resembles elements of the Green New Deal, as it intends to allocate proper funding for combating climate change while restructuring much of America’s brick and mortar structures to meet more environmentally sound standards. The Biden administration estimates that by increasing the corporate tax rate to 28%, the U.S. stands to generate $2 trillion over a span of 15 years.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Paul Bledsoe, former climate adviser in the Clinton White House and strategic adviser at the Progressive Policy Institute, commended the president’s climate prioritization, saying, “The thing it does, I think, for the first time truly ever, is provide utter certainty for business investment in clean energy.” Speaking volumes of truth, Bledsoe inadvertently highlights potential upcoming massive merging between those at high levels of corporate and state power. Today, Amazon leads corporate clean energy buying in the U.S. Trailing not far behind the Bezos-built empire are Google, Facebook, AT&T and Microsoft.
These same corporate behemoths, Amazon, Google and Facebook in particular, regularly engage in publicized political commentary, or brand activism as some have called it. Additionally, each made sizable contributions to the 2020 Biden-Harris campaign. According to data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics, Facebook alone spent a total of $19,680,000 in 2020 on lobbying expenditures, making it the year’s sixth-biggest lobbying. Separated by the American Medical Association, Amazon ranks as the nation’s eighth biggest lobbying spender in 2020, having spent over $18,725,00.
Often referred to as “brand-activism,” this phenomenon is a true testament to American politics’ excessive permeation into everyday life. Major League Baseball is guilty of partaking in this corrosive trend, following the league’s recent decision to cancel its famous All-Star Game scheduled to occur in Atlanta, Georgia. The abrupt cancellation is a result of the MLB’s most recent display of overtly public political courage, which protests the state’s newly proposed voting bill, which is shrouded in a thick cloud of media-fueled controversy.
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