Justin Miller

 Justin Miller is a senior writing fellow for The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Paul Ryan Is Lying About High Corporate Tax Rates

Republicans are taking their corporate tax-cut campaign on the road. House Speaker Paul Ryan visited airplane manufacturer Boeing on Thursday in Washington state, where he lamented how the company is quivering underneath the weight of a 35 percent tax rate. Meanwhile, Ways & Means Chair Kevin Brady sang the same song at telecom giant AT&T’s headquarters in Dallas.

There’s just one problem. Neither of these corporations pays the statutory 35 percent tax rate for corporations. Over the past eight years, Boeing has paid an effective tax rate of just 5.4 percent on its profits while AT&T has paid 8.1 percent, according to a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. In fact, it’d be quite hard for Ryan to find a company to visit that actually does pay the full rate. Most corporations pay nowhere near the full rate thanks to a bevy of tax breaks and loopholes—the average is closer to 20 percent, though even that varies tremendously by industry.

Ryan and other GOP leaders want to shave the statutory rate down to 20 percent while President Donald Trump wants it reduced to 15 percent. Neither has given any indication as to whether their idea of corporate tax reform includes closing loopholes. They simply contend that cutting the rates will make American manufacturers more competitive with foreign companies, and will use the money they save to invest domestically in research and development, which will in turn drive economic growth and create jobs.

But through federal and state subsidies and tax breaks, corporations like Boeing and AT&T have for years benefited from a low effective tax rate. As ITEP’s Matthew Gardner explains, Boeing has received a tax refund in five of the past ten years. It saves itself $542 million a year using a special domestic manufacturing tax break, and $1.8 billion in further cuts thanks to a research and development tax credit. Boeing also benefits from the immensely favorable depreciation schedules on capital that has saved it billions of dollars over the past decade.

Boeing also entered into a $9 billion tax incentive deal with Washington state back in 2013—the largest corporate subsidy ever—to “maintain and grow its workforce within the state.” But, as Michael Hiltzik points out in the Los Angeles Times, the company has since cut nearly 13,000 jobs (about 15 percent of its Washington workforce) as it sets up shop in cheaper states that offer incentives of their own.

It still manages to enrich its shareholders though. On the same day that it announced a production slowdown in December, Hiltzik notes, Boeing also announced a 30 percent increase in its quarterly dividend and a new $14 billion share-buyback program.  

The current corporate tax system doesn’t incentivize job creation. Rather, it incentivizes the enrichment of CEOs and shareholders. Simply cutting the rate without closing loopholes or including clear economic-development requirements will only further advance shareholder capitalism, to the detriment of just about everyone else.

Ryan's and Brady’s visits to Boeing and AT&T expose the core lie behind their corporate tax-cut agenda. Corporations are already benefiting from lower rates—and they sure aren’t using the extra money to create jobs. 

Will Centrist Dems Give Trump His Tax Cuts?

There’s a bloc of Democrats who could be tempted to vote with Republicans for tax cuts for the rich. 

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images) Representative Kurt Schrader of Oregon on March 25, 2015 trickle-downers.jpg W hile the Republican Party battled itself during its attempt to roll back Obamacare, Democrats in the House and Senate formed a united and unwavering front of “No” votes. Not one red-state Democrat in the Senate nor a single centrist in the House peeled off. That’s rather impressive, considering that 34 House Democrats voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2010. There are a few reasons for this. Very few of those conservative Democrats have kept their seats, and the remaining congressional Democrats have moved leftward in recent years, to the point that preservation of the ACA has become a unanimous priority for Democrats. Also, the extraordinary levels of grassroots activism from groups like Indivisible, MoveOn, and ADAPT put intense pressure on Democrats in both the House and Senate to resist any sort of bipartisan overtures. Perhaps most important, the visceral...

On Monuments and Minimum Wages

Conservative lawmakers’ defense of Confederate monuments in the South is part of a larger subterfuge to undercut the power of liberal black cities.  

(Photo: AP/Steve Helber) The statue of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. A t 9 p.m. last Tuesday night, city workers began to enclose in plywood the Confederate monument that sits in Birmingham’s Linn Park. By the following afternoon, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall had announced that he was suing the city for violating state law. Activists in Birmingham first began calling for the removal of the 52-foot Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument in 2015, after white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina, church. That, in turn, prompted Gerald Allen, a state senator from Tuscaloosa, to introduce the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act to prohibit cities from removing or altering historic monuments more than 40 years old without the approval of a state committee. The predominantly (if not entirely) white Republicans who control the legislature passed the bill along party lines. Republican Governor...

Paying for Trump’s Tax Cuts Would Devastate the Poor

When you consider how the GOP will finance their steep tax cuts, things look even grimmer for low- and middle-income Americans. 

In this Jan. 28, 2016 photo, Joe Heflin, left, of Jefferson City, waits with others for his turn to receive free groceries from the Samaritan Center food pantry in Jefferson City, Mo. Heflin, 33, also receives federally funded food stamp benefits. S ince Republicans failed to deregulate the health-care industry last month, they’ve moved on to something bigger and better: tax reform. So far, though, the Trump administration has only put forward a series of regressive, revenue-losing tax cuts: halving the corporate tax rate; slashing rates for pass-through entities like LLCs; trimming the top marginal income rate; eliminating the estate tax—the list goes on. Trump and his team are trying hard to pitch this as a plan that, for one, actually exists, and two, will benefit every one across the board. However, as those who’ve analyzed Trump’s barebones proposal have concluded, the benefits of the cuts would be highly skewed toward the top 1percent, with that group pocketing about half the...

Trump, Walker, and the Foxconn Con

Republicans amp up their race-to-the-bottom approach to economic development. 

(Photo: Chris Kelopnis via AP Images) Governor Scott Walker (Republican of Wisconsin) makes remarks during the announcement of the creation of a Foxconn Factory to be built in Wisconsin to build LCD flat screen monitors at The White House in Washington, DC, July 26, 2017. I n late July, President Donald Trump joined with Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and Foxconn CEO Terry Gou at the White House in a bid to validate Trump’s economic stewardship. Gou’s company, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer, best known as an iPhone supplier for Apple, was entering into an agreement with Walker’s state to invest $10 billion in a gigantic 20 million-square-foot LCD television factory in southeastern Wisconsin. With promises of as many as 13,000 new middle-class jobs, the event was supposed to be seen as proof that Trump and the Republicans were making good on their promise to resurrect American manufacturing. “This is a great day for America, a...

Pages