God knows there's more than enough avarice in Silicon Valley to go around. But it took amazing gall for Cisco CEO John Chambers to go on 60 Minutes and brag about stashing $40 billion overseas to dodge taxes. He's hoping to convince America to let him bring the money back.
There is "intense and ongoing" Congressional lobbying going on to pass a tax repatriation plan favored by Chambers, according to Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, allowing Cisco to bring its overseas profits back to America at the bargain corporate tax rate of 5 percent, versus the usual 35 percent. Chambers has claimed such a federal giveaway would bring corporate cash "flooding into the country" in quantities potentially "larger than the entire federal stimulus package."
He said as much, and more, on a 60 Minutes segment that CBS aired last night and that's excerpted above.
What Chambers hasn't mentioned is that some very aggrieved Cisco shareholders are calling for the repatriation of Cisco's overseas hoard after they depose the very well compensated, but recently lackluster, CEO.
Nor does he mention that the last time Congress tried a tax holiday it simply encouraged large corporations like his own to move more money overseas and wait for another "one time" break.
Nor does he mention that Cisco refused, when asked, to commit to hiring a single employee if it gets the tax windfall.
Cisco is hardly alone among corporations who avoid taxes. Google and Facebook do it, as do many smaller tech companies. But you have to be extraordinarily shameless to defend and call for the institutionalization of tax dodgery, on camera, in the midst of sky high unemployment and a stalled economy — while a loud number of your shareholders are demanding you bring the money home and pay regular 35 percent taxes on it. John Chambers isn't the embodiment of what voters hate about American corporations. He's a walking, talking toast to it.