By
ED Show
updated 6/1/2013 10:17:39 AM ET 2013-06-01T14:17:39

When Apple CEO Tim Cook was called in last week to face the wrath of lawmakers on Capitol Hill wondering how Apple sheltered $44 billion from taxes, he got more than a warm reception. He got an apology.

When Apple CEO Tim Cook was called in last week to face the wrath of lawmakers on Capitol Hill who wonder how Apple sheltered $44 billion from taxes, he got more than a warm reception. He got an apology.

“I frankly think the committee should apologize to Apple,” Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said during a hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. “I’m offended by the spectacle of dragging in executives from an American company that is not doing anything illegal.”

The subcommittee had released a report that found Apple had funneled money through three offshore shell companies to avoid billions in taxes. But Paul blamed Congress for writing a convoluted federal tax code. He failed to mention that many legislators essentially represent large corporations who use money and lobbyists to shape our elections and tax laws to their advantage.

“[Paul’s apology] kind of reminds me of when Joe Barton (R-Texas) apologized to BP [in 2010] after they ruined the Gulf [of Mexico] with their oil [spill],” Rep. Keith Ellison said Saturday on MSNBC’s The Ed Show.

“Taxes are not a punishment. Taxes are the dues we pay to live in a civilized society,” Ellison said. “Apple wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar corporation but for the fact that the United States of America made it possible for them to be that successful.”

Ellison contends small businesses are unfairly shouldering the burden for the rest of the corporate sector.

“If you’re a coffee shop or you’re a small manufacturing business,” Ellison said, “you may have to pay all of your taxes because you don’t have a lobbyist to get out of them like Apple and some of the other ones do.”

The subcommittee’s hearing came as the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is under investigation for targeting conservative political groups. But it is conservatives in Congress who protect corporations from paying their fair share of taxes.

Video: How Apple can keep billions away from the IRS

  1. Closed captioning of: How Apple can keep billions away from the IRS

    >> you know here at e"the ed show" we want to know what you think and every week we check out facebook, twitter and our blog. so now you decided and we are reporting. here are this week's top trenders voted only by you. after with drawing from public life weiner is ready to stick it back in.

    >> take a look, tell me what you think.

    >> our number three trender, anthony weiner is in.

    >> i'm running for mayor. the former sex addict turned family man wants to lengthen his political r?sume. i made some big mistake .

    >> he had thought long an hard about this.

    >> i've learned some tough lessons.

    >> they'll provide some stiff competition.

    >> the number two trender, john mccain lets lose of tea party troublemakers with. arizona senior citizen schooled mike lee own how congress does business.

    >> maybe the senator from utah ought to learn a little bit more about how business has been done in the congress of the united states .

    >> did you hear me, i said get off my lawn now.

    >> and this week's top trender, apple is at the core of the real irs scandal.

    >> apple ceo was called in to face the wrath of senators wondering how apple had avoided paying taxes on $44 billion in income.

    >> apple ceo tim cook got a warm reception from the senate.

    >> i love apple . you are the apple of my eye

    >> i think the committee should apologize to apple .

    >> why the hell vi to keep updating the ap apps on my ix phone all the time.

    >> did you hear me, i said get off my lawn now.

    >> joining me now, congressman. it sounds like the republicans are a flat out protection organization for consideration corporations that think they've hired so many people they shouldn't paying any taxes at all.

    >> they're going to do it as long as the american people don't hold him accountable. but i think americans all over the country are really started to get animated. two thirds of all american corporations don't pay me taxes. apple is fight for the right to not pay taxes, but ade ge, boeing. the one third that do pay, they're shouldering the burden for the rest of the corporate sector. u's not fair to them. if u you're a coffee shop or a small manufacturing business you may have to pay all of your taxes because you don't have a lobby yis to get outout of them like apple and some of the other ones do.

    >> we have the republicans on capital hill , apologize to corporations because they have a lot of employees and have some success. they want to rewrite the tax code further in their favor. here's what he said after rand paul said it should be apologizing to apple .

    >> the subcommittee is investigating the tax code that is not working for the american people , not working for businesses in this country where some businesses decide how many taxes they're going to pay, how many they won't, what they're going to leave offshore in terms of arrangements.

    >> congressman what's your response to that. it reminds me of when they apologized to p when they ruined the gulf in the oil. it's kind of a trend with my friends on the other side of the aisle. i mean, but you know what? the american people got to point out to them, you know taxes are not a punishment. taxes are the dues we pay to live in a civilized society. you want to make sure we have deseent infrastructure -- boy the way we had had a bridge fall just the other day. there's going to have to be some taxes paid and it should be fair. and companies like apple and ge and all the rest of them should pay their fair share . we have and effective corporate tax rate that is actually pretty low. nobody pays all those taxes. but owe what? we need to have more people, more corporations paying their fair share so that working people and middle class people don't have to pay as much.

    >> the republicans are saying we are vilifying apple , we're vilifying anybody who questions this is after capitalism, is after suck says we should appease them because they've had so much success. bottom line is our tax code isn't working wur 0 treasure is short.

    >> of course not.

    >> fair share in the minds of the american people . this is the lift of congress right now at least on the democratic side to kpemp fie in what fairness is and move the public to forcing politician to change the tax code . will it happen?

    >> well, you know, ed, at a time when thaer cutting meals on heels, we're cutting head start, it seems to me only fair that apple would step up and help fund the country that has made it possible for them to be successful in the first place. apple wouldn't be a multibillion dollar corporation but for the fact that the united states of america made it possible for them to be that successful. it seemgs to me they ought to want to help to pay the expenses of this country so that everybody can have a fair shot. i think it's really disappointing that they don't.

    >> there's a moral equation here. what's morally right to massage the tax code through supporting politicians who are going to have our back or to do your fair share oun the country that has given you the opportunity to be so successful. congressman, keith elson, great to have you with us tonight. i appreciate it so much. the tornado in moore, oklahoma left thousands displaced. the rap lid response team weighs in on this and much more ahead. president obama talks tough on drones. we have reax to that and some con men tear. but next i'm taking your questions, ask ed live is just ahead. stay tuned. [ slap! ] [ male announcer ]

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