The communications giant Comcast announced in February that it would buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion, creating the largest cable provider in America,with more than 33 million customers. That is about one third of the U.S. cable and satellite television market. FCC approval is required for the merger to go into effect. Critics of the deal say it would lessen competition and lead to even shoddier customer service. They are probably right, as all of us will soon find out, because there is little chance the merger will be stopped. Comcast, Time Warner, and their political fixers have spent years preparing for this moment—by buying off the Democratic Party.
Comcast’s in-kind contributions to the Democratic Party are more difficult to calculate. In a media environment that already tilts leftward, the NBC networks, which Comcast owns, distinguish themselves as especially pro-Obama. Comcast has one channel, MSNBC, which is almost entirely devoted to furthering the president’s agenda and the broader priorities of the American progressive movement. How do you put a price on the contributions of the invaluable Ed, Al, Chris, Chris, Rachel, and Lawrence? Where would the Democratic Party be today without The Reid Report? They give so much.
Some three hundred years ago Sir Walter Scott asked, “Breathes there a man with soul so dead who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my native land.” Well, in America corporations are legally deemed “persons,” so the answer to Scott’s question is “Yes,” at least when it comes to tax payments. In this globalized world corporations are “multi-national,” run by executives who may never have set foot in the lands they declare to be “home” for tax purposes. Nothing illegal about it all: These firms play by the rules written for them by the governments in which they do most of their business. And their executives do have a fiduciary obligation to the owners of the business, their shareholders, to minimize their tax payments to the greatest extent possible within the law. Moreover, to some extent their continued search for benign tax regimes puts something of a limit on the ambitions of national tax collectors, witness the unhappiness of France with the low taxes on offer in Ireland, which is coming out of the recession in which over-taxed France remains mired.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear two challenges to the constitutionality of the HHS mandate that employer-provided health insurance cover certain reproductive services free of charge even over the employer’s religious objections. Of the many who will be closely watching the high court’s decision, an inner circle consists of the plaintiffs in the 44 suits brought so far by for-profit businesses—plaintiffs like the Gilardi brothers of Sidney, Ohio.
Today is a good day for the Democratic National Committee. Duke Energy, which helped bankroll the Democratic convention in Charlotte last year with a $10 million loan, announced it would forgive the Democratic party of its massive debt.
President Barack Obama is reportedly considering the use of the corporate cash to help pay for inauguration. The thinking is, after a long and very expensive presidential campaign, donors might be too spent to pick up the tab.
Is corporate America downsizing itself to death? So you would think from watching Up in the Air, the popular movie starring George Clooney as a “downsizing expert” who racks up more than 10 million frequent flier miles going from city to city to terminate an endless parade of desperate employees.