In a bid to win public support for President Donald Trump’s tax cut proposal, lobbyists recently unveiled a website called Tax Reform for America, featuring tools for contacting legislators and testimonials of “fellow taxpayers” to explain why the legislation is necessary.
The promotional website prominently features Loretta Lepore, a small business owner from Atlanta, Georgia, as an ordinary American who would benefit from a tax cut.
“The tax system is so complex that it puts an undue burden on small businesses instead of allowing us to allocate resources back into our businesses and back into our people,” Lepore says in her testimonial. “Tax reform needs to be addressed, to be simplified for every American and every small business across the country.”
The nature of Lepore’s small business, however, is never disclosed.
She runs a consultancy that serves big businesses. Lepore’s LLC is registered to lobby on behalf of one of the biggest expected winners of tax reform: Cisco Systems, the California-based technology conglomerate that’s poised to reap a windfall of billions of dollars from a reduction in the corporate tax rate.
In order to avoid paying U.S. federal taxes, Cisco has about $68 billion in earnings in overseas accounts. The company is expected to repatriate a large portion of those funds if corporate tax rates are dramatically lowered. The repatriation dynamic positions Cisco — along with Apple and Microsoft — as one of the companies that stands to gain the most from the tax plan proposed by Republicans.
If Cisco repatriates its overseas cash, don’t expect a sudden rush of investment into new jobs. Kelly Kramer, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Cisco, told a conference of financial analysts in June that the company expects to use the cash to reward investors. Kramer said she expects to use tax reform to “grow to our dividend” and become a “lot more aggressive on the buyback,” referring to efforts to provide a short-term boost to the company’s stock price by buying its own shares on the marketplace.
The Tax Reform for America site is part of a campaign managed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest private sector lobbying organization in the country. The Chamber claims it is the “voice for business,” representing “mom-and-pop shops.” But the business association is largely funded by a relatively small number of massive corporate interests, including Fortune 100 firms such as Microsoft and Dow Chemical.