GE vs. Bernie part 2: On Hyperbole and Reality

Yesterday we pointed out that GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt attacked Bernie Sanders in a corporate propaganda piece masquerading as an op-ed in the Washington Post. Don’t hold your breath waiting for WaPo to allow Bernie to have the same free advertising space to rebut Immelt’s rant. Fortunately though, he doesn’t really need to because CNNMoney has taken it upon themselves to do it for him, even if they may not have meant to. Check it out:

A CNNMoney analysis shows how GE’s U.S. footprint has indeed shrunk dramatically over the past two decades.

Back in 1995, roughly 68% of GE’s 222,000 total employees were in the U.S, according to its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. By 2005, the percentage of American jobs declined to 51% and by the end of 2015, just 38% of its employees were in the U.S.

GE’s total global workforce has increased to 333,000. But it employs fewer American workers today — 125,000 versus 161,000 in 2005.

Bernie’s point about GE and its outsourcing of American jobs is thus proven.  But CNNMoney didn’t stop there:

A glance at GE’s factories tells a similar story — that a majority of its expansion has happened overseas. GE has 10 fewer U.S. plants today than a decade ago. But the number of factories overseas has risen by 58. While it used to be split about evenly, today 59% of GE’s plants are on foreign soil.

So again, Bernie’s point is proven.  But that’s not to say that both he and Immelt did not resort to a bit of hyperbole.  For Bernie’s part in the New York Daily News, it was technically incorrect of him to say that GE pays no tax in any given year. That’s a slight exaggeration—GE did pay corporate income tax in 2014.  But they didn’t in 2010-2013.  Bernie’s larger point about GE and tax avoidance, though, is absolutely correct.

Regarding his hyperbole, Immelt protested in his WaPo op-ed advertisement that GE pays “billions” in “federal” taxes.  Well yes, if you count things like payroll and unemployment taxes.  But Immelt knows very well that when Bernie makes the somewhat hyperbolic point that GE pays “no taxes,” Bernie is talking about income tax, which Immelt also knows GE didn’t pay for four years.  So while his statement about GE paying billions in taxes is technically correct, he purposely mischaracterizes Sanders’ larger (and absolutely correct) point.

So basically, Bernie is trying to compare apples to apples—the corporate income tax that GE has gotten out of paying in comparison with the personal income tax that individuals have to pay but can’t get out of paying. Immelt, on the other hand, compares apples to oranges—income taxes and payroll/unemployment taxes and hopes no one notices the nature of reality.

Bernie noticed, and so have the rest of us. And we don’t like it.

(Part one is here.)

About eggsistense

Writer, musician, cartoonist, human being
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