The latest recipient of the Captain Louis Renault Award for shock,shock at the anti-business nature of Barack Obama and his administration goes to Steve Ballmer, Obama supporter and CEO of Microsoft. Ballmer provided substantial support for Obama’s presidential run, and also giving $100,000 to his inauguration, as did Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Now, however, Ballmer has balked at Obama’s tax positions and now says he’ll move Microsoft jobs overseas if necessary:
Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steven Ballmer said the world’s largest software company would move some employees offshore if Congress enacts President Barack Obama’s plans to impose higher taxes on U.S. companies’ foreign profits.
“It makes U.S. jobs more expensive,” Ballmer said in an interview. “We’re better off taking lots of people and moving them out of the U.S. as opposed to keeping them inside the U.S.”
Obama on May 4 proposed outlawing or restricting about $190 billion in tax breaks for offshore companies over the next decade. Such business groups as the National Foreign Trade Council, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable have denounced the proposed overhaul.
A month ago, I warned that Obama’s plan to “close loopholes” by taxing all income, even that already taxed by foreign nations, would create a flight of multinationals:
[C]ompanies with the wherewithal will simply move overseas to take advantage of better tax environments, limiting their exposure to Obama’s tax-hiking fever and protecting their revenues. He can try to make this as painful as possible, but in the end businesses will act in their own interest. Obama seems to either not realize this or not care much whether companies flee the US, nor does he appear to have learned the value of dynamic tax analysis.
For the rest, the high American corporate tax rate will cause them to invest less in their own businesses, killing expansion and development. It will curtail employment, and in the end, the businesses won’t pay most of the tax anyway. They will do what all businesses do — pass their internal costs to their customers in the form of higher prices. Those higher prices will depress demand, as well as creating inflation on top of stagnation. This will not only cripple the American economy in a similar manner to what we saw in the 1970s, but it will also mean less revenue for the federal and state governments.
Ballmer apparently agrees, at least as it applies to him — now that he helped foist Obama on the rest of us. What exactly did Ballmer not understand about “share the wealth”?
In Casablanca, Victor Lazlo tells Rick, “Welcome back to the fight. This time, I know we’ll win.” I wish I could say that about Ballmer’s belated Road to Damascus moment, or that I’d trust him to not repeat his financial support of Obama and the redistributionist Democrats now that he has tasted the cutting edge of “share the wealth.” I’ll believe it when I see it.
Update: I’ve been corrected in the comments; Ballmer and Gates contributed the $100K donations to the inaugural. I’ve corrected my lead paragraph.