Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Wants to Keep Companies From Leaving U.S. By Holding Patents Hostage

Government gives, government takes away.


Angela Radulescu/flickr

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told a crowd in Iowa she wanted to keep American companies from moving overseas by "using their patents as leverage to make them pay their taxes," referring to companies like Apple and GE she said "were salting money away offshore."  

Just last month, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, again denied the company dodged its taxes. "Apple pays every dollar we owe," he said. Apple's harassers, which now include the Democratic presidential frontrunner, insist Apple's perfectly legal decision to hold money abroad to avoid onerous U.S. taxes was wrong.

More than a year ago, the Obama administration released a new set of rules intended to thwart American companies trying to move overseas in a process called "inversion," where a merger between an American and foreign company ends with the new parent company being non-American. President Obama and others on the left have sought to paint the process of companies migrating overseas, often to take advantage of better tax rates, as "unpatriotic" despite being legal.

In other contexts, President Obama has characterized support for restrictions on migration as un-American. The freedom to migrate has to work both ways.

When Obama announced the new rules in September 2014, Bill Clinton declined to join him in calling the process of moving your business overseas "unpatriotic" and that the U.S. should "come to terms with the fact that everyone else in the world has stopped taxing on the difference between what their companies earn in a different country and at home."

Corporate economic migrants head to places like Canada and Ireland. In other countries, we recognize closing borders to keep economic migrants in is anathema to the idea of freedom. Places like Canada and Ireland aren't bastions of government-less anarchy, and the U.S. should be able to compete with them by improving its own economic climate and not by closing borders and threatening to hold assets hostage.

Patents, of course, are government privileges. Apple, for example, has spent years in court fighting Samsung over whether the Korean company's Galaxy phones were "copies" of the iPhone. The fight hinges over such remarkable processes as swiping your finger to unlock your phone screen. In other words, it's a silly fight meant to suppress a competitor through privileges granted by government rather than by offering a superior product in an open marketplace.

As far as unintended consequences go, the ones for holding patents hostage in an almost inevitably failed effort to keep companies from seeking less repressive tax burdens may not be the worst if they encourage companies to rely less on government-granted privileges and fictions in their business models.

NEXT: Where are the Moderate Trumpists?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Much of modern “political economics” hinges on the assumption that the government owns everything, and is therefor justified in controlling the allotment of “private” resources.

    1. Not the government. The people.

      “This land is your land, this land is my land, from California…”

      1. My entire 70s elementary school music education consisted of singing crap like that and other hippie favorites.

        1. There is always the all-American counter-verision.

          This land is MY land.
          It is not your land.
          I’ve got a shotgun
          And you ain’t got one
          I’ll blow your head off
          If you don’t get off
          This land is MY properteeeee

          1. Nice 🙂

        2. Roll on, Columbia roll on…

          I want to shoot FDR’s Ghost every time I think of 5th grade music class.

          1. “Anybody here seen my old friend Abraham…” gaahahhhaaa make it stop…

          2. This dates me a bit, but I remember 5th Grade music class because at the end of every class the teacher would play a “record” brought in by one of the students, and invariably that meant listening to the newest single from KISS.

            Down to today, when I turn on Classic Rock from my cable Music Choice channel and “Beth” is playing. Decades later and I’m still being made to waste time that I was hoping to spend listenin to something musical being subjected to KISS instead.

            1. I didn’t own any records at that age so I guess I would have had to bring in my mom’s Herb Alpert or my older brother’s Barbra Streisand. And then probably stay late to avoid getting my ass kicked after school.

      2. But, since this is a Democracy, the government IS the people, so if the government owns everything, why, that is just returning power to the people!

        1. Yep. Like when the government fines some company for some reason, that is money going to the people. It goes to everyone since government is us and we are government. Well, everyone except businesses. They are the enemy, and government is what protects us from the evils of private enterprise. Think of it like a huge union that protects the people from greedy capitalist corporations that force jobs and products onto unwitting victims.

    2. We used to joke in the Navy that getting a sunburn was destruction of government property.

      1. Like the line from “Brazil” when the girl is looking through the garmet bags the prisoners are stuffed into, to try and find Tuttle.

        “Hey, stop it, that’s governent property!”

      2. uhh it is. You didn’t used to be able to get a tatoo without getting into trouble, i thought the charge was vandaalism or some shit.

  2. There should be no government-granted monopolies.

    1. There should be no government-granted monopolies.

      That’s good enough.

  3. “More than a year ago, the Obama administration released a new set of rules intended to thwart American companies trying to move overseas ”

    As someone who works in the land of the Hobbits, may I take this rare opportunity to say: “Thanks, Obama!”

    1. You work on the island of Flores? Cool.

      1. No, but we are incorporated on the Isle of Jersey.

  4. If only there were something that those in power could do about a tax system that makes Canada and Western Europe look like tax havens in comparison.

  5. I’m just going to sit here and what for government to improve our lives by relaxing some of its restrictions.

    /fast forward to dessicated Florida Man in chair

    1. Dessicated? In Florida? Climate change, what can’t it do!

  6. So per the Trumpets, I think I’m supposed to start supporting Hillary right now for sticking her thumb in the eye of the intellectual property system.

    1. I’ll jump on that pants-suitted bandwagon.

      1. Dang, Crusty…have some pride, I mean… oh, never mind.

    2. I knew you were a closet Democrat! J’accuse!

      1. Look, Epi, it’s all worth it so I can watch the looters squirm.

        1. I knew you were a closet nihilist! J’accuse!

          1. Closet nihilist??? That’s an insult too far, even for you.

            1. Say what you want about the tenets of national socialism…

              SHUT THE FUCK UP DONNY!

            2. Sorry, that should have been worst nihilist, not closet. My bad.

          2. I used to be a nihilist, but then I realized that nothing matters so why bother?

            So I became a pessimist, but then decided that it wasn’t going to make anything better, either.

            Now I’m a libertarian and just want the government to force others to become libertarians, too.

      2. When is the right time to come out?

    3. Go for it! #nothinglefttosteal

  7. “You didn’t invent that.”

  8. My wife is convinced that that Hillary has brain damage. I don’t think she is wrong.

    1. I just had this image of Bill slamming her head repeatedly against the floor.

      “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!”

      1. And now the image has changed, and Hillary is slamming Bill’s head against the floor.

        “Why don’t YOU shut up!? Why don’t YOU shut up?!”

        1. And now, their standing about a foot apart, panting, and staring at each other in unmitigated rage. Suddenly, Bill reaches out and grabs her, and….

          Oh, crud. I think I’m gonna hurl…

      2. Better than the image of her standing behind Monica and holding her hair back while screeching “Hurry up! He has a cabinet meeting in five minutes!”

        1. [tosses half-eaten lunch in trash]

  9. So, Hillary is the white, female version of Hugo Chavez, right?

    1. Or in other words, Evita Peron.

  10. Trump wants to build a wall to keep people out, and Shrill wants one to keep people in. Ain’t freedom wonderful?

    1. We’re all Producerists now.

    2. They will compromise on forcing everyone to get bar-code Real ID trackers tatooed on our foreheads

    3. Maybe they can compromise and build a wall that does both.

      1. Walling off all of the airports would be a tough sell.

        1. Ever try to enter the USA through an airport? They’really pretty walled off already.

  11. One wall, to wall them all.

    1. one unconvicted felon to rule them all.

      1. And in the bureaucracy, bind them.

  12. It Takes A Cunt

  13. HILLARY!

    An Iron Fist in an Iron Vagina.

  14. I work in the very heart of Progtopia, aka the Greater Boston Corridor, and I just last week saw my first “Ready for Hillary!” bumper sticker. I sped up to pass them because I had to know, and I wasn’t disappointed to see that it was a 40-something woman who was 50-something pounds overweight and looked like she was rushing home to feed her 60-something cats.

    1. +100 LOL

    2. I saw one of these on a car in Greenville South Carolina about 18 months ago (maybe a little longer). I relocated back to Houston 15 months ago. I wanted to key it and slash the tires but then thought better (I was parked in front of the office I worked in).

      Did see a great shirt Sat. at a gun show: 2016 for Prison – Hillary

  15. Today companies. How long until people?

    I posed sort of the same question a couple of threads up. A better writer than me could write a halfway decent story about what would happen if another country (or for those inclined to science fiction, an off-world colony) embraced limited government and free enterprise and started growing like gangbusters while the U.S. languished. A brain drain as people with skills and talents started immigrating there en masse from the U.S. probably followed by an effort by the U.S. government to keep the citizenry trapped here.

    1. This happened 300 years ago

    2. Well, they already sort of try it with people and taxes. Maybe they’ll start seizing the assets of people who renounce citizenship or something.

  16. President Obama and others on the left have sought to paint the process of companies migrating overseas, often to take advantage of better tax rates, as “unpatriotic” despite being legal

    That’s the left we know and love – patriotism is the last resort of th scoundrel, until it involves your money. Then they’re suddenly about mom, apple pie and the flag.

  17. Hilary is the real Bushitler.

  18. It’s a silly effort no doubt. Companies like Apple would simply find a way to patent their materials elsewhere. Also you can’t tax a patent. On the other hand some inducement to keep US jobs in the US would be nice but the government clearly doesn’t care about that. They care about taxes.

  19. When will Democrats realize they are nothing but control freaks with a brand name?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.