Sunday, April 21, 2013

Corporate Tax Dodgers: 10 Companies and Their Tax Loopholes

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Bank of America
Had $17.2 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. Reported it would owe $4.3 billion in U.S. taxes if profits are brought home.

Had $42.6 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. Reported it would owe $11.5 billion in U.S. taxes if profits are brought home.

Paid just a 15% federal income tax rate from 2010-2012, less than half the official 35% corporate tax rate – a tax subsidy of $6.2 billion. Had $43 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes.

Made $5.7 billion from 2010-2012 and didn’t pay a dime in federal income taxes. Got a tax subsidy of $2.1 billion. Received $10.3 billion in federal contracts from 2006-2012.

General Electric
Made $88 billion from 2002-2012 and paid just 2.4% in taxes for a tax subsidy of $29 billion. Paid no taxes in 4 years. Had $108 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. Received $21.8 billion in federal contracts from 2006-2012.

Made $5 billion from 2009-2012 and paid just $50 million in federal income taxes – a tax subsidy of $1.7 billion. Had $11.6 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. Received $16.7 billion in federal contracts from 2006-2012.

Made $13.6 billion and paid $2.5 billion in federal income taxes from 2009-2012. Paid an 18.4% federal income tax rate, half the official 35% rate – a tax subsidy of $2.2 billion. Had $53.4 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. Received $8.7 billion in federal contracts from 2006-2012.

Saved $4.5 billion in federal income taxes from 2009-2011 by transferring profits to a subsidiary in the tax haven of Puerto Rico. Had $60.8 billion in profits stashed offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes; reported it would owe $19.4 billion if profits are brought home.

Received $2.2 billion in federal tax refunds from 2010-2012 while earning $43 billion worldwide even though 40% of its sales are in America. Had $73 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. income taxes. Received $3.4 billion in federal contracts from 2010-2012.

Made $19.3 billion in U.S. pretax profits from 2008-2012 but paid no federal income taxes during the period; instead got $535 million in tax rebates. Total tax subsidy: $7.3 billion. Received up to $6 billion in federal contracts from 2011 through 2023.


As the budget battles in Washington continue, corporations have stepped into the fray with some of
the most aggressive lobbying we’ve seen in years – calling for cuts to corporate tax rates, a widening of offshore tax loopholes that already cost the U.S. Treasury $90 billion a year, and cuts to government services and benefits, including Social Security and Medicare.

In making their case, corporate executives decry the U.S.’s 35% corporate tax rate claiming it is the highest in the world and makes their businesses uncompetitive globally. The evidence suggests otherwise.

Corporate profits are at a 60-year high, while corporate taxes are near a 60-year low [See Figure]. U.S. stock markets are at record levels, and American CEOs are paid far more than executives who run firms of similar size in other nations. Many U.S. corporations pay a higher tax rate to foreign governments than they do here at home.

America’s 35% tax rate is the highest among industrialized nations, but very few companies pay anything like those rates. Total corporate federal taxes paid fell to 12.1% of U.S. profits in 2011, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The average profitable company in the Fortune 500 paid just 18.5% of its profits in federal income taxes between 2008 and 2010, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, a nonpartisan tax research organization. Dozens of large and profitable companies paid nothing in recent years.

CEOs who are the face of various corporate pro-austerity, anti-tax campaigns with names like Fix the Debt, The LIFT America Coalition, The RATE Coalition and even the long-standing Business Roundtable, preach a theory that cutting corporate taxes is “pro-growth.” But they neglect to say that the growth is of their corporate bottom lines, not the economy and certainly not social well-being.
Though many of these austerity crusaders have corporate retirement plans that will provide tens- and even hundreds of thousands of dollars PER MONTH in their retirement, these CEOs shamelessly argue for cutting monthly Social Security benefits and raising the retirement age to 70 – which automatically reduces seniors’ retirement benefits by 20%.

It wasn’t always this way. There was a time, not so long ago, when America’s largest businesses did not question the need for taxes to pay for investments in education, infrastructure and basic research that benefited businesses and citizens alike. It was from these investments that things like computers, the Internet and life-saving drugs and medical technology emerged in life-changing ways.

In 1952, under Republican President Dwight D Eisenhower, corporate income taxes were nearly a third of the federal government’s receipts but had declined to less than 10% by 2012. This is due to a corporate tax code riddled with loopholes, perks and preferences won by corporate lobbyists and backed by millions of dollars of campaign gifts to Members of Congress.
Corporate Tax Dodgers - Decline of Corporate Taxes as Percentage of Federal Revenues, 1952-2012

This report looks at 10 U.S. corporations that have used an array of tax loopholes and corporate subsidies to slash their tax bills. Here are a few of the loopholes and subsidies:

The offshore tax loophole. This gaping loophole costs the U.S. Treasury $90 billion a year by letting corporations ship profits and jobs overseas. It was originally established to encourage U.S. multinational corporations to expand their businesses into other countries; for instance, to encourage car manufacturers to build plants and sell cars in Germany or England. If profits from those sales were reinvested in new and better plants overseas, that money would not be subject to U.S. income taxes. But starting a couple of decades ago, corporate tax attorneys and accountants found ways to stretch this concept and set up ways for companies to register intellectual property, such as patents or trademarks, in low-tax nations, called tax havens.

When a product is sold in America, a chunk of the purchase price is sent to the tax haven to pay for use of the patent, and these funds escape U.S. taxes. One of the companies profiled in this report is Microsoft, which sends 47 cents of every U.S. sales dollar to Puerto Rico to pay for patents on discoveries largely made in the United States. Pfizer has turned these tax-avoiding paper transactions into an art form – it sells 40% of its drugs here but hasn’t reported any U.S. profits in five years. Merck and Citigroup also benefit from offshore tax loopholes.

The excessive CEO pay tax dodge. This loophole was created in 1993 when Congress passed legislation seeking to cap the deductibility of executive compensation to no more than $1 million per year per executive. Companies could continue to pay whatever they wanted, taxpayers just wouldn’t be subsidizing more than the first $1 million per executive. As the bill moved through Congress, a loophole was inserted that exempted all pay considered to be “performance based.” Rather than reining in pay, the effect of the law with the loophole intact was an explosion of stock-based compensation. This loophole costs the U.S. Treasury $8 billion a year. Honeywell is one of the company’s profiled that has used this loophole to save on its taxes.

The corporate malfeasance tax dodge. When you get a parking ticket or a speeding ticket, come tax day you are out of luck because such fines are not tax deductible. But if you are a corporation, the costs of corporate crimes and abuse are most often tax deductible, in effect forcing other taxpayers to subsidize their abusive behavior. When Bank of America paid to settle claims that its foreclosure practices violated the rights of customers who lost their homes or when ExxonMobil paid $1.1 billion to settle claims for the Exxon Valdez oil spill, their tax deductions of these costs meant the rest of us picked up some of the tab for their harmful practices.

The paying business to do what it would do anyway tax subsidy. Several companies profiled were able to sharply cut their taxes by taking advantage of special tax write-offs associated with the 2009 stimulus bill. Corporations have long been allowed to deduct a portion of the cost of their property and equipment over the life of the asset. But the 2009 law allowed companies to immediately write-off 50% of the value of the equipment in the year the purchase was made, regardless of how long the equipment was expected to last. While the intent of the legislation was to get businesses to spend more to stimulate the economy, in reality most companies got enormous tax breaks for doing what they were going to do anyway. FedEx and Verizon are big beneficiaries of this subsidy as they buy aircraft and build cell phone towers.

Bank Bailout, round 2. America’s taxpayers spent more than $2 trillion to bailout America’s financial institutions during the recent banking crisis. But the terms of the bailout did not address whether the financial institutions involved could use the losses incurred during the crisis to reduce their taxes for years to come, in effect, giving them a second bailout. Bank of America used its losses as a get-out-of-taxes free card. Many other banks and financial institutions did the same.


There are two bills in Congress that would close some of these loopholes and ensure that some companies pay their fair share of taxes.

The Cut Unjustified Tax Loopholes Act (S. 268, introduced by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI)) would close offshore loopholes by establishing command and control provisions that would treat foreign subsidiaries controlled from America as U.S businesses for tax purposes. It would also end some of the deductions corporations presently enjoy from stock-option based pay of corporate executives, and close some of the oil and gas subsidies in the tax code.

The Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act (S. 250, introduced by Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and H.R. 694, introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)) would end the current practice of deferral that allows companies to avoid taxes on offshore profits, both those earned offshore and those shifted there through accounting gimmicks. This bill would tax the global profits of U.S. corporations and provide for a 100% foreign tax credit for any taxes paid to foreign governments. It would raise $590 billion over ten years according to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

There is widespread and growing public opinion among the American public and the small business community that corporate tax loopholes need to be closed so we have the money to invest in a more promising future. This support is seen across the political spectrum. Corporate tax dodging is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue, it is an American issue. The American people are saying it is long past time that corporations step up and pay their fair share to fix the debt and assure that our country has sufficient public investment to create opportunities for all to succeed in their life, their liberty and the pursuit of happiness for them and their families.

Authors: Scott Klinger, Sarah Anderson, Javier Rojo, Institute for Policy Studies
Editorial Support: Frank Clemente, Americans for Tax Fairness
Designer: Tyler Driscoll

For a description of the methodologies used to determine corporate taxes paid, corporate tax subsidies and CEO compensation go here:

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) is a community of public scholars and organizers linking peace, justice, and the environment in the United States and globally. We work with social movements to promote true democracy and challenge concentrated wealth, corporate influence, and military power. Visit online at:

Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) is a diverse campaign of 280 national, state, and local organizations united in support of a tax system that works for all Americans. It has come together based on the belief that the country needs comprehensive, progressive tax reform that results in greater revenue to meet our growing needs. Visit online at:

A Tax System Stacked Against the 99 Percent

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LEONA HELMSLEY, the hotel chain executive who was convicted of federal tax evasion in 1989, was notorious for, among other things, reportedly having said that “only the little people pay taxes.”
As a statement of principle, the quotation may well have earned Mrs. Helmsley, who died in 2007, the title Queen of Mean. But as a prediction about the fairness of American tax policy, Mrs. Helmsley’s remark might actually have been prescient.
Today, the deadline for filing individual income-tax returns, is a day when Americans would do well to pause and reflect on our tax system and the society it creates. No one enjoys paying taxes, and yet all but the extreme libertarians agree, as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, that taxes are the price we pay for civilized society. But in recent decades, the burden for paying that price has been distributed in increasingly unfair ways.

About 6 in 10 of us believe that the tax system is unfair — and they’re right: put simply, the very rich don’t pay their fair share. The richest 400 individual taxpayers, with an average income of more than $200 million, pay less than 20 percent of their income in taxes — far lower than mere millionaires, who pay about 25 percent of their income in taxes, and about the same as those earning a mere $200,000 to $500,000. And in 2009, 116 of the top 400 earners — almost a third — paid less than 15 percent of their income in taxes.

Conservatives like to point out that the richest Americans’ tax payments make up a large portion of total receipts. This is true, as well it should be in any tax system that is progressive — that is, a system that taxes the affluent at higher rates than those of modest means. It’s also true that as the wealthiest Americans’ incomes have skyrocketed in recent years, their total tax payments have grown. This would be so even if we had a single flat income-tax rate across the board.

What should shock and outrage us is that as the top 1 percent has grown extremely rich, the effective tax rates they pay have markedly decreased. Our tax system is much less progressive than it was for much of the 20th century. The top marginal income tax rate peaked at 94 percent during World War II and remained at 70 percent through the 1960s and 1970s; it is now 39.6 percent. Tax fairness has gotten much worse in the 30 years since the Reagan “revolution” of the 1980s.

Citizens for Tax Justice, an organization that advocates for a more progressive tax system, has estimated that, when federal, state and local taxes are taken into account, the top 1 percent paid only slightly more than 20 percent of all American taxes in 2010 — about the same as the share of income they took home, an outcome that is not progressive at all.

With such low effective tax rates — and, importantly, the low tax rate of 20 percent on income from capital gains — it’s not a huge surprise that the share of income going to the top 1 percent has doubled since 1979, and that the share going to the top 0.1 percent has almost tripled, according to the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez. Recall that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans own about 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, and the picture becomes even more disturbing.

If these numbers still don’t impress you as being unfair, consider them in comparison with other wealthy countries.

The United States stands out among the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the world’s club of rich nations, for its low top marginal income tax rate. These low rates are not essential for growth — consider Germany, for instance, which has managed to maintain its status as a center of advanced manufacturing, even though its top income-tax rate exceeds America’s by a considerable margin. And in general, our top tax rate kicks in at much higher incomes. Denmark, for example, has a top tax rate of more than 60 percent, but that applies to anyone making more than $54,900. The top rate in the United States, 39.6 percent, doesn’t kick in until individual income reaches $400,000 (or $450,000 for a couple). Only three O.E.C.D. countries — South Korea, Canada and Spain — have higher thresholds.

Most of the Western world has experienced an increase in inequality in recent decades, though not as much as the United States has. But among most economists there is a general understanding that a country with excessive inequality can’t function well; many countries have used their tax codes to help “correct” the market’s distribution of wealth and income. The United States hasn’t — or at least not very much. Indeed, the low rates at the top serve to exacerbate and perpetuate the inequality — so much so that among the advanced industrial countries, America now has the highest income inequality and the least equality of opportunity. This is a gross inversion of America’s traditional meritocratic ideals — ideals that our leaders, across the spectrum, continue to profess.

Over the years, some of the wealthy have been enormously successful in getting special treatment, shifting an ever greater share of the burden of financing the country’s expenditures — defense, education, social programs — onto others. Ironically, this is especially true of some of our multinational corporations, which call on the federal government to negotiate favorable trade treaties that allow them easy entry into foreign markets and to defend their commercial interests around the world, but then use these foreign bases to avoid paying taxes.

General Electric has become the symbol for multinational corporations that have their headquarters in the United States but pay almost no taxes — its effective corporate-tax rate averaged less than 2 percent from 2002 to 2012 — just as Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee last year, became the symbol for the wealthy who don’t pay their fair share when he admitted that he paid only 14 percent of his income in taxes in 2011, even as he notoriously complained that 47 percent of Americans were freeloaders. Neither G.E. nor Mr. Romney has, to my knowledge, broken any tax laws, but the sparse taxes they’ve paid violate most Americans’ basic sense of fairness.

In looking at such statistics, one has to be careful: they typically reflect taxes as a percentage of reported income. And the tax laws don’t require the reporting of all kinds of income. For the rich, hiding such assets has become an elite sport. Many avail themselves of the Cayman Islands or other offshore tax shelters to avoid taxes (and not, you can safely assume, because of the sunny weather). They don’t have to report income until it is brought back (“repatriated”) to the United States. So, too, capital gains have to be reported as income only when they are realized.

And if the assets are passed on to one’s children or grandchildren at death, no taxes are ever paid, in a peculiar loophole called the “step-up in cost basis at death.” Yes, the tax privileges of being rich in America extend into the afterlife.

As Americans look at some of the special provisions in the tax code — for vacation homes, racetracks, beer breweries, oil refineries, hedge funds and movie studios, among many other favored assets or industries — it is no wonder that they feel disillusioned with a tax system that is so riddled with special rewards. Most of these tax-code loopholes and giveaways did not materialize from thin air, of course — usually, they were enacted in pursuit of, or at least in response to, campaign contributions from influential donors. It is estimated that these kinds of special tax provisions amount to some $123 billion a year, and that the price tag for offshore tax loopholes is not far behind.

Eliminating these provisions alone would go a long way toward meeting deficit-reduction targets called for by fiscal conservatives who worry about the size of the public debt.

Yet another source of unfairness is the tax treatment on so-called carried interest. Some Wall Street financiers are able to pay taxes at lower capital gains tax rates on income that comes from managing assets for private equity funds or hedge funds. But why should managing financial assets be treated any differently from managing people, or making discoveries? Of course, those in finance say they are essential. But so are doctors, lawyers, teachers and everyone else who contributes to making our complex society work. They say they are necessary for job creation. But in fact, many of the private equity firms that have excelled in exploiting the carried interest loophole are actually job destroyers; they excel in restructuring firms to “save” on labor costs, often by moving jobs abroad.

Economists often eschew the word “fair” — fairness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. But the unfairness of the American tax system has gotten so great that it’s dishonest to apply any other label to it.

Traditionally, economists have focused less on issues of equality than on the more mundane issues of growth and efficiency. But here again, our tax system comes in with low marks. Our growth was higher in the era of high top marginal tax rates than it has been since 1980. Economists — even at traditional, conservative international institutions like the International Monetary Fund — have come to realize that excessive inequality is bad for growth and stability. The tax system can play an important role in moderating the degree of inequality. Ours, however, does remarkably little about it.
One of the reasons for our poor economic performance is the large distortion in our economy caused by the tax system. The one thing economists agree on is that incentives matter — if you lower taxes on speculation, say, you will get more speculation. We’ve drawn our most talented young people into financial shenanigans, rather than into creating real businesses, making real discoveries, providing real services to others. More efforts go into “rent-seeking” — getting a larger slice of the country’s economic pie — than into enlarging the size of the pie.

Research in recent years has linked the tax rates, sluggish growth and rising inequality. Remember, the low tax rates at the top were supposed to spur savings and hard work, and thus economic growth. They didn’t. Indeed, the household savings rate fell to a record level of near zero after President George W. Bush’s two rounds of cuts, in 2001 and 2003, on taxes on dividends and capital gains. What low tax rates at the top did do was increase the return on rent-seeking. It flourished, which meant that growth slowed and inequality grew. This is a pattern that has now been observed across countries. Contrary to the warnings of those who want to preserve their privileges, countries that have increased their top tax bracket have not grown more slowly. Another piece of evidence is here at home: if the efforts at the top were resulting in our entire economic engine’s doing better, we would expect everyone to benefit. If they were engaged in rent-seeking, as their incomes increased, we’d expect that of others to decrease. And that’s exactly what’s been happening. Incomes in the middle, and even the bottom, have been stagnating or falling.

Aside from the evidence, there is a strong intuitive case to be made for the idea that tax rates have encouraged rent-seeking at the expense of wealth creation. There is an intrinsic satisfaction in creating a new business, in expanding the horizons of our knowledge, and in helping others. By contrast, it is unpleasant to spend one’s days fine-tuning dishonest and deceptive practices that siphon money off the poor, as was common in the financial sector before the 2007-8 financial crisis. I believe that a vast majority of Americans would, all things being equal, choose the former over the latter. But our tax system tilts the field. It increases the net returns from engaging in some of these intrinsically distasteful activities, and it has helped us become a rent-seeking society.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We could have a much simpler tax system without all the distortions — a society where those who clip coupons for a living pay the same taxes as someone with the same income who works in a factory; where someone who earns his income from saving companies pays the same tax as a doctor who makes the income by saving lives; where someone who earns his income from financial innovations pays the same taxes as a someone who does research to create real innovations that transform our economy and society. We could have a tax system that encourages good things like hard work and thrift and discourages bad things, like rent-seeking, gambling, financial speculation and pollution. Such a tax system could raise far more money than the current one — we wouldn’t have to go through all the wrangling we’ve been going through with sequestration, fiscal cliffs and threats to end Medicare and Social Security as we know it. We would be in sound fiscal position, for at least the next quarter-century.

The consequences of our broken tax system are not just economic. Our tax system relies heavily on voluntary compliance. But if citizens believe that the tax system is unfair, this voluntary compliance will not be forthcoming. More broadly, government plays an important role not just in social protection, but in making investments in infrastructure, technology, education and health. Without such investments, our economy will be weaker, and our economic growth slower.

Society can’t function well without a minimal sense of national solidarity and cohesion, and that sense of shared purpose also rests on a fair tax system. If Americans believe that government is unfair — that ours is a government of the 1 percent, for the 1 percent, and by the 1 percent — then faith in our democracy will surely perish.

Tax Day Repurposed To "Illuminate" Corporate Tax Evaders

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With President Obama fielding cynical cuts to Social Security to appease the Fix the Debt crowd and reach a budget deal, groups are teaming up to point out that there would be a lot less concern about the budget deficit if corporate America did what average Americans have to do and actually pay taxes. Taking advantage of loopholes, tricks and deductions, many U.S. companies pay far below the required 35% tax rate, and some, like General Electric have a negative tax rate. New web resources are shining a light on the firms and individuals that manipulate the U.S. tax system to their benefit, putting more of the burden on America's middle class.

A coalition of groups have launched the new website as part of a week of action aimed at bringing attention to an estimated $100 billion per year that U.S. corporations are avoiding in taxes. The website was launched with help and research from the Citizen Engagement Lab, The Other 98%, US Uncut, The Yes Lab, Americans for Tax Fairness, U.S. Public Research Interest Group, Occupy Wall St, and the Wisconsin-founded Overpass Light Brigade.

The website is a play on the popular 1970s arcade game Space Invaders, but with a twist. The invaders are corporations who have been paying shockingly low taxes, some even manipulating loopholes to achieve a negative tax rate. The coalition takes a closer look at the taxes paid by General Electric, Bank of America, British Petroleum (BP), JPMorgan/Chase, Citigroup, ExxonMobil, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Google, Microsoft, Pfizer, and Wells Fargo.

There are three main sections on the website; one for entertainment, one for education, and one for action. The home page allows visitors to play a video game as a group of protestors fighting off the Tax Evaders, in order to save schools, fire stations, and other public institutions. There is also an educational section, which shows each company's profits, their tax bill, and their refund. A third section allows visitors to "fire" on the tax evaders by sending Tweets to the corporations telling them to pay their fair share.

Offshore Tax Haven Docudump Raises Profile of Tax Evasion

In case you missed it, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), released a giant load of data in April that details the offshore holdings of people and companies in more than 170 countries around the world. The hoard of the documents "represents the biggest stockpile of inside information about the offshore system ever obtained by a media organization. The total size of the files, measured in gigabytes, is more than 160 times larger than the leak of U.S. State Department documents by Wikileaks in 2010," says the group.

The disclosures have rocked the government of French President Francois Hollande, whose budget minister was forced to acknowledge he lied about foreign holdings, and they provide a one stop shop on how tax evasion is actively pursued by corporations and individuals and facilitated by big banks around the globe. Learn more here.

Friday, April 12, 2013

You Can't Sequester Cancer

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Former House Aging Committee Director Robert Weiner and George Washington University Professor Dr. Patricia Berg , a GWU Medical Center cancer laboratory director, make the case that "You can't sequester cancer. You can only hurt the research that treats and prevents it, and stop the treatments themselves." In an article in today's Washington Times, Weiner and Berg say, "That is the message of 18,000 scientists gathered for the American Association for Cancer Research's annual convention this week in Washington."

Weiner and Berg say, "Those thousands of scientists-- usually wonky researchers poring over their microscopes -- held a 'Rally for Medical Research' on the grounds of the Carnegie Library across from the Washington Convention Center. In rhythm to drumbeats, the scientists became political advocates as they chanted after each speaker, 'More Progress! More Hope! More Life!'"
Argue Weiner and Berg: "Cancer is neither Democratic nor Republican. 1.6 million people a year get it, according to the National Institutes for Health. 40,000 women each year die from breast cancer alone. Cancer mortality -- to be clear, that means the number who die from the disease -- has been reduced by one-third over the past three decades-- largely from the research that has produced new drugs, treatments, prevention strategies, and knowledge about better diet and living habits. Still, one of two men, and one of three women, will contract cancer sometime in their lives, and then becomes subject to 'the vortex of disbelief and fear,' as one speaker explained."
The authors contend, "When we sequester the research -- stop it dead in its tracks so no additional advances can be made by scientists who are on the cutting edge -- we are cutting off our nose to spite our face."
They continue, "The USA has been the leader in cancer research. A full quarter of the 18,000 scientists at the convention were from foreign countries -- 75 countries. That is because of our current leadership. China is not sequestering. They already are taking enough of our trade, science, and technology. Do we want our health research leadership to transfer to China -- or to any other country?"
Berg and Weiner called the cuts through sequestration "devastating. Speaker after speaker pointed out that NIH has lost 20% in real dollars after inflation over the past decade and that grant support is at its lowest ever." They quote Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee: "While we retreat, other countries copy our successful past model, to help their economies."
They contend, "The reason for the failure to end the sequester is that Washington is insulated. In addition, there has been nowhere near enough of a public outcry to have impact. Happily, the push to end the sequester against cancer treatment and research is bipartisan."
Rep. John Porter (R-IL), who served for 21 years in Congress and now is Chair of Research America, argued to the crowd: "We played nice. So it's time to get mad, to get militantly moderate." Dr. Margaret Foti , AACR's CEO, said the group decided that "it's time to put an unprecedented spotlight on ending the set of diseases called cancer at the earliest time."
The rally was not limited to cancer. People spoke who are now living with HIV, leukemia, diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, stroke, and an Alzheimer's caregiver. They said they are all "survivors because of medical research."
Weiner and Berg argue, "Sequestration is stopping children from having preschool, blocking our roads and bridges from repairs, and cutting nutrition programs. But perhaps the clearest indication of the stupidity of Washington's gridlock and ineptness is reports of Medicare cancer clinics having to turn away a third of their patients from chemotherapy -- literally sentencing them to death."
Rally moderator Cokie Roberts , herself a cancer survivor, said that "there could not be a stupider time to cut back on medical research. On the cusp of breakthroughs, it's time to push forward, not back." Then she, too, led the chant.
Weiner and Berg call for action: "Democrats are convinced defense cuts can't happen, and Republicans are sure social program cuts won't occur, without the bludgeon of the sequester. OK, the bludgeon has happened. So now, cuts on both sides can rationally take place. President Obama, much to the chagrin of most Democrats, rightly or wrongly, has acquiesced to reducing Social Security's cost-of-living increases. Republicans have surprisingly agreed on hundreds of millions in defense cuts. Now, hopefully, Congress could finally just get along."
They conclude, "Cancer affects all -- and so does the sequester against its research. It's time for Congress to end the sequester."