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Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.
Woody Guthrie, “Pretty Boy Floyd” (1939)

Short of cash, you decide to rob a bank at gunpoint. But on your way out the door, the cops arrest you. You say, “Sorry about all this. I’d sure appreciate it though if you let me keep the money.” Fat chance.

But for big multinational corporations that are caught stealing from the U.S. Treasury, letting them keep the money seems to be exactly what Republicans in Congress favor.

Case in point involves the recent wave of American corporations renouncing their U.S. citizenship, on paper, to avoid billions of dollars in taxes. Almost everybody says they agree that this sleight of hand has to be stopped. But Senator Orrin Hatch, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, says he’ll support closing this huge new corporate loophole only if the result is “revenue-neutral.” In other words, only if the big corporations get to keep the money.

Hatch is not an outlier. In fact, his screwball position reflects the general view of his party in Congress. Republicans in both the House and Senate are blocking legislative action to stop corporate foreign “inversions” unless the needed reforms are accompanied by a reduction in the statutory corporate tax rate.

“As through this world I’ve wandered,” sang Woody Guthrie, “I’ve seen lots of funny men.” Unfortunately, too many Washington politicians don’t want to make the corporate “funny men” play by the same rules as real people.