Column: Don't shed too many tears for Pfizer
By JIM HIGHTOWER, OtherWords
AUSTIN, Texas — Gosh, you’ve got to feel sorry for Pfizer. The poor drug giant has to pay taxes in our country, so it’s leaving.
When I say “poor” drug giant, I don’t mean Pfizer is broke or in the poor house. No, no, the pill peddler is incredibly rich, hauling in some $50 billion a year on sales of Viagra, Lipitor, Celebrex and such. However, the pharmaceutical powerhouse feels put-upon by what its CEO calls America’s “uncompetitive tax rate.”
Poor baby. Now Pfizer says it must renounce its citizenship in our country, flee to the lower-tax sanctuary of England, and reincorporate as a British firm.
Before you join Pfizer in cursing America’s corporate tax rate, note that corporations use a mess of loopholes to avoid paying anywhere near the official rate. In fact, the drugmaker scooped up $2.2 billion in federal tax refunds between 2010 and 2012 while earning $43 billion worldwide even though 40 percent of its sales are in the United States. It also snapped up $3.4 billion in federal contracts over those three years, according to an Institute for Policy Studies report on corporate tax dodgers.
Special tax breaks are hardly all that this expatriate ingrate gets from us. How about that fat subsidy called Medicare Part D that its lobbyists wrote and got George W. Bush to ram into law?
It’s a huge chunk of corporate socialism that forces taxpayers to shell out billions a year to cover whatever rip-off prices Pfizer and other Big Pharma profiteers choose to charge for the drugs that seniors take.
Yet, while this corporate greedhead says it no longer wants to be an American, it most certainly does want to keep getting this platinum-coated welfare payment from the American government it supposedly disdains.
Notice, too, that while Pfizer is swapping out its citizenship, it wants to keep its headquarters and top executives right here in the good ol’ USA.
Excuse me, but if Pfizer executives choose to disown America, then America should disown them.
OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter The Hightower Lowdown.