Monday, April 18, 2011

Tax Day Protesters In Oakland Tell Corporate America To Pay Their Share

Protesters rally Monday afternoon in Downtown Oakland in front of the Citibank branch on Broadway calling for America's largest companies to pay corporate income tax. Rallies were also held at the Chevron headquarters in San Ramon and later in San Francisco in front of the Wells Fargo Bank corporate offices.
By Steven Tavares

OAKLAND - On a day when millions of Americans dread writing out large checks to the federal government, protesters across the Bay Area trained their focus on some of the richest corporations in the world failing to pay taxes through exemptions and corporate loopholes.

Over 100 people gathered Monday afternoon in Oakland in front of the Citibank branch at Broadway and 13th Street chanting “Make them pay!” and carrying placards reading “Jail the Banksters.” The rally organized by Moveon.org attracted a large number of onlookers milling about for an late afternoon break and elicited shouts of encouragement and honking horns from cars passing through downtown Oakland.

Marv Tripp of Oakland says he's been around a long time, but has never seen wealthy interests run amok like this in his lifetime. He railed against 30 years of conservatism starting with President Reagan slowly stripping Americans of their economic well-being. “They said cutting taxes for the rich would bring prosperity and all kinds of growth,” said Tripp, who said afterwards he had never spoken in public before today. “Did that happen? No! All the spending is by the wealthy to buy our Congress.”

The statement urged one man to yell the Supreme Court has also been bought by corporate interests, while another offered trillion dollars wars in Iraq and Afghanistan backed by the wealthy against the economic interests of Americans as part of the dilemma facing the country.

Another speaker used the rising strength of the Tea Party for progressives to use as a blueprint for their causes saying it needs to be even stronger than the nascent group purported to believe in stemming the flow of taxes to fund big government in Washington. Despite the somewhat similar aims of both ideologically opposed groups, some protesters said they find adherents of the Tea Party to be easily manipulated by corporate and wealthy interests. “I call them information lite,” Tripp said of the Tea Party.
There were no visible groups or individuals offering an opposing view to the protesters who labeled 12 of the largest U.S. corporations who did not pay taxes last year the “Deadbeat Dozen.” Those include General Electric, Bank of America, Google, BP, Amazon, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Boeing, ExxonMobil, FedEx Goldman Sachs and Chase.

Similar protests against corporate “tax dodgers” occurred Monday across the country. In the Bay Area, protesters chanted similar anti-business slogan in front of the Chevron corporate headquarters in San Ramon before heading to the downtown Oakland. Many of the protesters from Oakland packed up after 3 p.m. and headed towards another rally to be held at the headquarters of Wells Fargo at Montgomery Street in San Francisco.

“Our country is not broke,” said Charles Davidson, the East Bay coordinator for Moveon.org, “but we are giving it away to corporation and letting them get away Scot-free." He singled out General Electric for reporting over $14 billion in earnings last year without paying a single dollar in taxes. “This is the corporation that is the worst in shipping jobs overseas,” said Davidson. It was the publicizing of General Electric’s failure to pay taxes two weeks ago by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders that led to outrage across the country along with a focus on other American multi-national corporations who have carved out their tax loopholes through legislation and tucking away earnings in more tax-friendly countries around the globe.

Berkeley residents Simi Litvak and Pnina Tobin attended the protest but didn’t expect becoming the afternoon’s most poignant moment when they volunteered to deliver a petition from the group to the Citibank branch manager. Litvak, wheelchair-bound, entered the bank and confronted the manager who refused to accept the documents. When she reported the manager had told them he was expecting the protesters at his door, those outside rose in hearty cheers. “

“I said to the manager, ‘You won’t even take this? You won’t even read this?’” Litvak said she attempted to engage the manager by saying “we need to take care of our children.” The manager, according to Litvak, responded by saying “I take care of my children.”

She says the manager communicated with her corporate had told him the protesters were allowed on the sidewalk, but once they entered the building, “that was my territory.” She added he said he was not interested in anything they had to say, but with a large man standing next to him, she said he was polite, nonetheless.


  1. These LOSERS, need to go get a job. Jackasses!

  2. When a corporation has to pay taxes, where do they get the money to pay the taxes? Answer: They raise the prices of their goods and services and so the end consumer actually ends up paying this "hidden" tax.

  3. It's obvious the 1st post was Manuel. Paul Vargas don't you think it's right that corporations pay their fair share of taxes like all of us? How about returning to the tax rate under Reagan?

    Frank Rico--you where wrong on Sutter and you are wrong on this. I don't have to buy their product if their prices are to high.

  4. How much did your pay go up in 2010? How about your friends and family? Working people in America are hurting—that’s for sure. They’re lucky to have jobs at all—and if they have jobs, odds are their pay is pretty much flat, or worse.

    Now, consider this: In 2010, the average pay of a CEO at a major American company went up by 23 percent—to $11.4 million.

    Despite the collapse of the financial markets at the hands of many of these same executives less than three years ago, the disparity between CEO and workers’ pay has continued to grow to levels that are simply stunning.

    Instead of investing to create good middle-class jobs and grow the economy, corporate CEOs are hoarding $2 trillion in cash.

    Although pay is more out of balance than it has been during most of our lifetimes, for the first time there is hope that things are changing.

    That’s because of a new law—the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2011. It’s a law that’s working today.

    This year, for the first time ever, every public company is giving its shareholders an advisory vote on CEO pay. And soon, companies will be required to disclose the ratio of CEO-to-worker pay for their median employee—which will publicize just how inequitable things are at individual corporations.

    These powerful new rules already are under attack—congressional Republicans have announced their intention to repeal Wall Street reform.

    In 2010, while most Americans were learning the hard way how to make do with less, and small businesses all across the country were shutting their doors, CEOs at our largest companies and Wall Street executives still found a way to make out like bandits. That’s something that’s got to change.

  5. Champion of the LeftApril 19, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    There shouldn't be an argument here. Earning $14 billion and paying zero is inexcusable and criminal. I don't know what else Americans need to know to rise up against the rich. It seems pretty clear to me there's a concerted effort to force the middle class into servitude. Would you like fries with that?

  6. The kneejerk claim that all taxes on corporations are bad all the time is simply not borne out by the facts.

    The biggest continuous boom economy of the last half-century began soon after Clinton and Congress raised top tax rates in 1993. The worst economy that any President has overseen in the last half-century took place soon after W. Bush and Congress passed massive tax cuts in 2001. Those cuts are still in place, at Republicans' insistence. Our economy is still limping along, and the Bush tax cuts are a major contributor to our deficits. The Bush cuts are also piling up the national debt.

    If increased business taxes were always passed on to consumers, then there would be a consistent correlation between increased taxes and increased inflation. That has not been the case. Supply-side economists have been proven wrong. They fail to look at the demand side of the economy.

    We can't afford corporate welfare any longer.

  7. Dr. Rico, are you saying it's fine and dandy to outsource jobs to low-paying countries? It's not a zero-sum game for the corporations. They have written their own tax codes and funneled money to tax havens or like Google to Ireland to avoid paying. The game is rigged. G.E. should just be like your employer Sutter Health and be a "non-profit" profiter.

  8. All these corporations are employing Americans. Where do you think they're hoarding this money? In coffee cans behind the back patio?

    You idiots, to say that raising taxes helped the economy you ought to agree that raising the minimum wage hurt the economy because the economy tanked when the minimum wage was increased. But then, most here don't understand economics and think that governments generate and create wealth.


  9. "While a full recovery of the US economy remains in the distance, corporate profits have already achieved a complete recovery. During the fourth quarter of 2010, corporate profits hit an all time high of $1.678 trillion, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. These fourth quarter results not only show more corporate profits than ever before, but they also mark the eighth consecutive quarter with a growth in corporate profits.

    Keep in mind that October, November, and December were not exactly prosperous months for the US economy, yet corporations still managed to reap more profit during this quarter than ever before....

    One explanation for how corporations are raising profits amid a relatively weak economy is an increased production rate, as well as a decreased compensation rate. During the fourth quarter, productivity increased 2.6%, according to the Labor Department. At the same time, labor costs fell 0.6% in the fourth quarter...

    Without doubt, corporations have not only recovered from the great recession, but corporations are stronger than ever before. In fact, corporations currently have a record amount of cash on hand with almost $1.9 trillion in banks, according to the Federal Reserve."


  10. It is also pathetic that 45% of American's pay no federal taxes. They use Government services and enjoy our free society, defense and the other benefits of society. Every wage earner should at least pay a token amount to support our system. Can you imagine if everyone paid at least $500. per year as a minimum, regardless of credits. Corporations need to pay too and the super rich need to pay more too. should not hide behind capital gains and other loopholes.

  11. It is incorrect to say that 45% of Americans pay no federal taxes. Everyone who gains a paycheck pays Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, income and other Federal payroll taxes throughout the year. There are also other forms of Federal taxes that many pay, whether they have a paycheck or not.

    The 45% estimate is for those whose yearly tax filings show incomes so low that even with no loopholes they have no tax debt due on April 15th. There are now so many jobs which pay so poorly that this percentage is increasing, at a time when corporate profits continue to climb.

  12. "Manuel", how do you explain the boom economy during the Clinton Presidency, since Federal tax rates were increased AND the minimum wage went up from $3.35 to $5.15 between 1990 and 1997?

  13. All people should be paid a "living wage" not a minimum wage! That money will go right back into the economy and stimulate the small business community. Small business will create 75% of the jobs that lead us out of the Bush crime family's recession, according to most economic experts. The big corporate monopolies need to pay their fair share of taxes, and their executives don't deserve 300 times the pay of their workers. Stop corporate welfare!

  14. Frank Rico, MD - I really wish it worked the other way around and I could say me not paying any taxes stimulates the economy.

  15. John R,
    I am not now nor have I ever been employed by Sutter Health. As for tax loopholes, I deplore them but they are the law that was written by the corrupt politicians that are elected. As Will Rogers said, "We have the best politicians money can buy." I am all for a total reform and simplification of the tax code.
    And why is it that I am one of the very few who can actually be identified on this site?

  16. The tax loopholes are created by lawyers and lobbyists, and are proposed as tax law by politicians corrupted by our horrible campaign finance laws. With the recent "Citizens United" Supreme Court decision, it's even more difficult to change the system.

    If a politician opposes loopholes or supports more progressive tax rates, like the rates which existed during the Reagan, Nixon and Eisenhower Presidencies, a rich corporation or person can decide to spend unlimited amounts to spread lies during a reelection campaign and overwhelm a broader base of contributors to defeat that politician.

  17. Well, this is interesting...

    "AGS [Alesina, Glazear and Sacerdote] report, using the World Values Survey, that "opinions and beliefs about the poor differ sharply between the United States and Europe. In Europe the poor are generally thought to be unfortunate, but not personally responsible for their own condition. For example, according to the World Values Survey, whereas 70 % of West Germans express the belief that people are poor because of imperfections in society, not their own laziness, 70 % of Americans hold the opposite view.... 71 % of Americans but only 40% of Europeans said ...poor people could work their way out of poverty."
    "Racial fragmentation and the disproportionate representation of ethnic minorities among the poor played a major role in limiting redistribution.... Our bottom line is that Americans redistribute less than Europeans for three reasons: because the majority of Americans believe that redistribution favors racial minorities, because Americans believe that they live in an open and fair society, and that if someone is poor it is his or her own fault, and because the political system is geared toward preventing redistribution. In fact the political system is likely to be endogenous to these basic American beliefs."

    "Endogenous" is economics-ese for saying we have the political system we do because we prefer the results it gives, such as limiting redistribution to the blacks. Thus the racial factor as well as a wider net of social beliefs play a key role in why Americans don't care about income inequality, and why, not caring, they have no great interest in expanding the welfare state."