When the U.S. Senate held an investigatory hearing on “Offshore Profit Shifting and the U.S. Tax Code” recently, a subcommittee summoned an Apple corporation spokesman to appear. I was offended by the very idea. I scoffed at the notion that a $4 trillion bureaucratic monster—aka the federal government—would attempt to bully, berate and badger one of America’s greatest success stories.
In the late 1990s, Apple was struggling to find its place among America business, as sales diminished and the niche of Apple products had yet to be defined. The company overcame this insurmountable challenge by not only thriving, but by becoming one of the largest companies in the world.
Today, more than 600,000 American jobs rely on Apple.
Apple’s job creating machine extends across the United States. The iPhone uses Gorilla Glass, which is manufactured in Kentucky by Corning. Today, Corning—and Kentucky—benefit from nearly $700 million in sales, employing more than 300 people thanks to Apple. Rather than berating Apple, we should celebrate the jobs Apple continues to create.
I think the federal government owes an apology to Apple. Instead of Apple, Congress should be on trial for having the crummiest tax code imaginable; for having a byzantine tax code that runs into the tens of thousands of pages; for creating a tax code that simply doesn’t compete with the rest of the world.
The Senate subcommittee admitted that Apple had not broken any laws. Yet, they are forced into a public trial at the whims of politicians, when in fact, Congress should be on trial for chasing the profits of great American companies overseas.
The Senate hauled before a committee one of America’s greatest success stories—and wanted what? Applause?
Instead of harassing Apple executives, members of the Senate should have brought in a giant mirror if they wanted to see who is responsible.
Our corporate tax is more than double Canada’s. Our corporate tax is over 10 points higher than Europe. And the federal government has the gall to blame an American business for protecting itself from excessive taxation?
Repatriation of capital from successful companies like Apple could bring billions of dollars in tax revenue. I have introduced a bill to let companies like Apple bring home profits at 5 percent and put that money into infrastructure.
Around 70 Senators would probably support my proposal. But it languishes. Because Congress argues that my proposal is the sweetener for overall tax reform—and for them, overall tax reform is just too tall a hill to climb.
Today, we could vote to lower the corporate income tax, but we won’t. Today, we could vote to let profits come home at 5 percent, but we won’t. Instead of doing the right thing, we drag businessmen and women before the Senate to berate them for trying to maximize their profits for shareholders.
Money goes where it is welcome. If you want more money to be earned in the United States—make profit welcome here. Until that time arrives, count me out of any government dog and pony shows that badger business. If our elected officials are going to bully successful American business, then I want no part of it.
Apple has done more to enrich people’s lives than our federal government will ever do. Technology is a revolutionary force that continues to change the world in so many ways. The best thing the government can ever do is get out of the way.
To the Apple executives who were forced to parade before the Senate—I apologize for the theater of the absurd you had to endure. I want you to know that I will do everything in my power to make our tax code simpler and more competitive, and I will not be a party to witch hunts that mistake cause for effect.
If there is anyone to blame here, it is Congress—and the tax code it created.
Sen. Rand Paul is a Kentucky Republican and a member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.