By Lucy Komisar
April 22, 2020
Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former CNBC TV host and registered Republican till a few years ago, is challenging Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Congress in the Democratic primary. She wants to abolish Medicare and Social Security in favor of a privatized voucher system (ie kill those programs), which will probably not endear her to a working-class district in Queens.
But I‘m equally interested in her attacks on the attempt to crack down on rich people and corporations who stash their money in offshore tax havens to cheat on taxes. Queens people may not know about that, but it affects them a lot. It’s how the rich loot the money that could benefit their lives.
I was once invited to appear on Power Lunch, the CNBC-TV program hosted by Caruso-Cabrera. The subject was tax evasion. I had been writing since the late 1990s about the use and abuse of the offshore tax haven system.
Caruso-Cabrera wrote in a book that forcing Switzerland to hand over the names of Americans using secret bank accounts to dodge taxes put the country on a “dangerous path” and would enable dictatorships to seize wealth kept abroad. She wrote, “Freedom and democracy are best secured when banking secrecy and tax havens exist.”
Who puts money in tax havens, dictators or workers?
The first point, “dictators will seize money” is very funny, since the money stashed offshore is routinely by the dictators and their friends, and never by the oppositions, which don‘t have cash to hide. Tell me about a workers‘ movement in a dictatorship that has millions in Swiss accounts!
And the second point, democracy is not “secured” by tax havens but is challenged by corrupt elites who buy politicians with the money they have secreted offshore.
But more to the point, on the show she had a co-host, a male whose name alas I don‘t remember. Because he was the major questioner, though she was at his side.
He kept talking about how some countries offered lower tax rates to entice companies to locate there.
I explained he was confusing tax competition with tax evasion. That tax havens didn‘t offer companies low taxes to really locate there, but fake registrations to allow companies that operated elsewhere to say they operated there. And claim zero tax rates back home. They had mail boxes for fake companies, not plants for real companies.
Does she really not understand what tax havens are for?
Lower taxes for real company operations and no taxes for fake registrations were totally different. Did these smart CNBC reporters not get that?
He kept repeating his line. I kept trying to explain. Was he so stupid? Michelle didn‘t say a word. Was she also so stupid?
Well, probably not. I realize now that I was invited to muddy the waters, to confuse watchers into thinking at a time that tax havens were beginning to be discussed that they were just competitively “lowering‘” taxes on real companies operating there instead of corruptly abolishing taxes on companies that actually existed thousands of miles away.
And now Michelle is challenging AOC for Congress. She is getting money from major Wall Street interests, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She is just the person who corrupt tax cheating corporations want in Congress.
AOC should challenge her on her views of offshore tax evasion.
And she should insist that the federal bailouts now not go to tax-evading companies that launder their profits by transferring them offshore. You list your profits in Ireland or the Netherlands? Ask the Irish or the Dutch for a bailout!