Last week, the Tribune uncovered that the highly secretive Project X in Buncombe County is that of Unison, a division of General Electric Aviation. The multimillion dollar deal cut by the Buncombe County Commission, coupled with the deal in the works with Asheville City Council, will be a major influx of taxpayer money for a private business. That’s right, a multibillion dollar international corporation must rely on the hard-earned tax dollars of hard-working Western North Carolinians.
To add insult to injury, it is no secret that General Electric contributes very little to the overall tax base. In a story by the Wall Street Journal on May 20, it was noted that GE pays an effective international tax rate of 14.4%. Blue collar Americans pay upwards of 30% in just income taxes. Tack on property taxes, gas taxes, etc. and it is commonly accepted as roughly 50%. Americans pay half their pay each year in various taxes, fees, and other egregious takings. However, GE pays just 14.4%.
Now look at the incentive package. Hard-working people here in the mountains, who pay up to 50% of their income in taxes, are now funding the new project of a multibillion dollar company that pays a 14.4% tax rate. As mentioned in last week’s editorial, where’s the outrage?
In 2011, a story by The Week showed that GE made $14.2 billion in worldwide profits, only to pay a U.S. tax bill of, wait for it, nothing. That’s right, no taxes. A big corporation, reaping billions in profits, and paying nothing in taxes. It is not illegal; it is simply called lobbying. Loopholes are created by politicians, who have special interests in mind, that help big corporations save money.
If you think it’s a coincidence, think about this. Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of GE, has been on President Obama’s jobs council and his Economic Recovery Board. Even more so startling, they travel together personally overseas.
According to an article by John Stossel: “Jeff Immelt is perhaps the CEO who is most cozy with President Obama,” says journalist Tim Carney, who will be a guest on my new Fox News special on freeloading this weekend. “General Electric is structuring their business around where government is going…high-speed rail, solar, wind. GE is lining up to get what government is handing out.”
So, here in Western North Carolina, your elected officials have agreed to “hand out” millions of your dollars to a company that uses political power to skirt paying even a modest amount of taxes, much less their fair share. This is simply crony capitalism, not short of fascism.
Do you feel comfortable knowing that the money you work hard for is going to a company that pays little in taxes while making billions in profits? Do you feel comfortable knowing that your County Commissioners have agreed to all of this without truly consulting you first? Do you feel comfortable having to find this information out from a newspaper rather than from the mouth of your elected representative?
It has been said that Project X was being kept secret to protect the integrity of the project. However, it seems that Project X may be secret to protect these officials from their electorate. Perhaps it’s time they hear from those they wish to keep in the dark.