Sen. Sherrod Brown pitches plans to tackle offshore tax havens, rebuild nation’s highways

News Sen. Sherrod Brown pitches plans to tackle offshore tax havens, rebuild nation’s highways

CLEVELAND, Ohio – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown outlined a plan Friday that would tackle two issues he views as problems: American corporations moving profits off shore and the upkeep of the nation’s highway system.

The goal, the Ohio Democrat said, is to eliminate the attraction of offshore tax havens that don’t tax corporate profits while at the same time raise money needed to repair and improve the nation’s failing infrastructure.

“I think it says all you need to know about our infrastructure when we refer to Dead Man’s Curve or Collision Bend,” Brown said, referring to a curve along Interstate 90 and a bend in the Cuyahoga River.

Brown also touched on a variety of other topics as he took questions from the audience. Here’s five things to know from his appearance.

Bringing back the cash

Brown said he is working with Democratic Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Charles Schumer of New York to address offshore profits.

Their plan would involve retroactively taxing American corporations on profits earned in the U.S. but sheltered for years to tax havens, like the Cayman Islands or the Bahamas. The rate still has to be negotiated. Future profits sent to those tax havens also would be taxed.

Corporations with operations in other countries would be given a U.S. tax credit for any foreign taxes they paid.

Brown said he’s hopeful that a deal can be worked out to eliminate incentives for companies to move their profits and jobs overseas.

“We all know that our tax code is broken,” he said.

He acknowledged, though, that such a deal would also have to navigate through the U.S. House of Representatives. And a large majority of Republican members of Congress have signed a pledge pushed by Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform to not raise taxes.

Rebuilding the highways

If the tax deal can be worked out, it would raise about $2 trillion for use on rebuilding and expanding America’s highway system over six years, Brown said.

“Every politician pays lip service to doing something about infrastructure,” Brown said.

He cited highway data, which showed that a quarter of the state’s bridges were deficient. Other states have similar problems, he said.

Because of the Norquist pledge, getting new taxes to pay for road work would be difficult. The federal excise tax on gasoline, which raises money for road and bridge construction, has remained at 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993.

Something needs to be done, Brown said. The upgrades to the highway system are needed and the work would drive jobs across the nation, he said.

“Our parents left us with a transportation system and an infrastructure that was the envy of the world,” Brown said. “We recognized government investment benefits all of us.”