Now that the Senate failed to pass President Obama’s jobs legislation last night, various pieces of his plan and other pet projects are likely to be introduced separately. It’s unclear whether an extension of the payroll tax reduction or additional unemployment benefits — two key planks of the President’s plan — will get floor time. But corporate interests are getting plenty of attention from members of the Senate. In particular, an army of corporate lobbyists has been vigorously promoting a tax holiday for U.S. multinationals.
Politico says the senior New York US Senator, Democrat Chuck Schumer:
has been quietly courting some Senate Republicans and Democrats to see whether there is any appetite for merging a GOP-backed idea — a tax holiday for corporations to bring home their overseas profits — with a Democratic-supported plan of creating a national infrastructure bank.
There is no evidence that giving multinational corporations a big tax break on profits earned overseas will create jobs or stimulate the economy. But some, like former director of the Congressional Budget Office Douglas Holtz-Eakin, believe that a tax holiday will actually create economic growth. Holtz-Eakin writes in Bloomberg:
Repatriation can be thought of as a private-sector approach to stimulus.
Both the left and the right have poured cold water on this idea. The Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank, says the proposed holiday would not spur additional U.S. capital investment or jobs because corporations have plenty of profits onshore and there is easy access to financing. J.D. Foster and Curtis Dubay of the Heritage Foundation write (emphasis mine):
The current proposal would cut taxes, which is generally a good thing, but if another repatriation tax holiday were enacted, one should expect a similar result as last time: specifically, a surge in repatriations and little appreciable increase in domestic investment or job creation. The repatriation holiday would have little or no effect on investment and job creation, the key to the whole issue, simply because the repatriating companies are not capital-constrained today.