On the day it was reported that Google uses income shifting techniques known by such arcane names as the "Double Irish" and the "Dutch Sandwich" to avoid paying taxes on its foreign profits, President Obama attended an intimate, high-dollar fundraiser at the Palo Alto, California home of a top Google executive. He didn't mention Google's tax tricks, according to a White House transcript of his remarks.
The Democratic fundraiser, which guests each paid $30,400 to attend, was at the home of Marissa Mayer, one of Google's best-known executives. At the lavish home, which was "decked out in Halloween decorations on steroids," according to a White House pool report, Obama spoke briefly and had nothing but praise for Google. He spoke fondly of his first visit to the company when he was an Illinois state senator. And of his work as president dealing with the recession, he said, "My task over the last two years hasn’t just been to stop the bleeding. My task has also been to try to figure out how do we address some of the structural problems in the economy that have prevented more Googles from being created…" (Although founded in the 1990s, Google went public and prospered enormously in the years that Obama and his fellow Democrats characterize as an economic disaster.)
Google, according to a report by Bloomberg News, has used paper transactions to shift $3.1 billion of its income to Bermuda and other low-tax havens in recent years. The company's aggressive use of such tax dodges has reduced its overseas tax rate to just 2.4 percent. Although the practice is common, Google "has cut its effective tax rate abroad more than its peers in the technology sector," Bloomberg reports. "Such income shifting costs the U.S. government as much as $60 billion in annual revenue."
In the past, Obama has been sharply critical of companies that move their income around the globe to avoid paying taxes. But with Google, whose employees give an estimated 75 percent of their political contributions to Democrats -- well, the president didn't have much to say about taxes.