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One more take on G.E., corporate taxes and the GOP budget plan

Not to harp on General Electric's ability to erase its 2010 tax bill, but Joe Nocera in today's New York Times echoed my earlier assessment that the company was only doing what we all wish we could do at tax time.

Nocera also links (as I and other folks have) the G.E. no-tax situation to the larger debate on corporate tax reform, noting:

The corporate income tax rate for American corporations is around 35 percent. If you talk to American executives for more than five minutes on the subject, they’ll tell you it’s too high. Andrew Liveris, the chairman and chief executive of Dow Chemical, claims in his new book, "Make It In America," that the U.S. has the "second-highest corporate tax rate in the world." A lower tax rate, he argues, could help spur a manufacturing revival in America.

And, maybe, just maybe, if American multinationals actually paid 35 percent of their profits in taxes, he might have a case. But it’s not just G.E. — none of them do. Mr. Willens told me that the typical multinational pays about half the stated tax rate. As for G.E., it says that its worldwide tax burden for 2010 was far lower than that: 7.4 percent.

Again, just tossing G.E. and other creative corportate tax departments out there again as something to think about as Congress struggles to come up with a budget and determine who will pay what to keep our country running.

Budget battle begins: That process moved along a bit today when House Republicans presented their plan for the next fiscal year's budget.

The GOP plan from Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, calls for $3.53 trillion in spending (or $179 billion less than the president has proposed) and supporters say it would balance the U.S. books (if you don't count interest payments) by 2015.

Of course, this House proposal is just the first step.

Although the GOP plan has its fans for its effort to combine spending and tax reform, getting it or most of its provisions approved by the Senate will be difficult.

And there is, of course, the ultimate veto option/threat from Obama.

But we finally have a starting point from which to fight work.

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