Big tech finds an ally in President Trump in high-stakes international tax fight

President Trump tours Apple Mac Pro facility with CEO Tim Cook in Austin, Texas on Wednesday, November 21, 2019
President Trump tours Apple Mac Pro facility with CEO Tim Cook in Austin, Texas on Wednesday, November 21, 2019

President Trump is defending Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and other tech companies in the face of France’s push for a digital tax that mostly targets U.S. companies.

Emily Birnbaum for The Hill:

Silicon Valley has applauded the Trump administration for condemning Europe’s efforts to tax the U.S. tech giants, but the situation has made for strange bedfellows as the president continues to galvanize his base by claiming companies like Facebook and Twitter are out to get him.

Some tech industry sources say it’s part of a long-standing dynamic: Trump lambasts the companies in public but his “America first” administration often defends them as valuable U.S. businesses. “There’s sometimes a delta between the rhetoric and the policy actions,” a tech industry source told The Hill. “But I’d say that’s probably true beyond just the tech industry. The relationship is probably better than people suspect.”

On Monday, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) proposed billions of dollars in tariffs to retaliate against France’s digital services tax, finding that it unfairly discriminates against U.S. tech companies like Amazon and Google. The French digital services tax will hit about 30 companies, most of which are based in the U.S. Trump then raised the issue directly with French President Emmanuel Macron, who has vowed to push ahead with the tax despite the threat of tariffs of up to 100 percent on $2.4 billion of French products, including French wines and cheeses.

Trump acknowledged the tension around his decision to defend the companies on Tuesday. “The tech companies you’re talking about, they’re not my favorite people because they aren’t exactly for me, but that’s okay,” Trump told Macron. “I don’t care… They’re American companies,” he continued. “And we want to tax American companies… That’s important. We want to tax them. That’s not for somebody else to tax.”

It’s not the first or last time the Trump administration has stood behind Big Tech. For months, the White House has hammered China for stealing the U.S. tech industry’s intellectual property, demanding significant changes to Beijing’s IP practices before any trade deal. Several provisions in Trump’s landmark 2017 tax law were a boon to tech firms like Apple, Microsoft and Google. And his daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, received an award and glowing accolades this year from Silicon Valley’s top trade group, the Internet Association, for her work expanding coding education in schools across the country, a top policy issue for companies like Facebook and Google.

MacDailyNews Take: On the subject of France’s digital tax, as we wrote back in April:

As per the EU itself, the smart approach for Apple et al. is to lobby for harmonized EU taxation over a state-by-state patchwork of taxes, as that will at least offer simplicity, stability, and predictability.

In her article, Birnbaum writes, “Trump… spread conspiracy theories implying that Google is left-leaning.” As per “conspiracy theories,” perhaps, somehow, Birnbaum has never seen this widely-seen video:

26 Comments

    1. I don’t think the President has committed treason by levying war against the United States of America or giving material aid and comfort to our formally declared enemies. The Constitution has an extremely narrow definition of treason for good reason, to keep the Executive Branch (whether King or President) from using it to suppress legitimate dissent. Their experience of George III had convinced the Framers that a runaway Executive would do exactly that, denouncing its political opponents as traitors simply because of policy disagreements.

      For the very same reason, the Constitution has an extremely broad definition of impeachable offenses, to keep the Executive Branch from acting as if it had absolute power. That same experience with King George had convinced the Framers that a runaway executive would do exactly that, using its official authority to enhance its personal power and wealth.

      As we can see.

      1. Again, I don’t think anybody can make a case for treason.

        Collusion is a different question. The Mueller investigation did not clear him of collusion (or obstruction). The Report quite specifically says that the investigation never looked into collusion because the word “collusion” has no clear legal meaning. They did determine that there was not sufficient evidence for a federal prosecutor operating under DOJ guidelines to charge anyone with criminal conspiracy. That is a very different thing from “no collusion,” which does have a popular meaning that the Campaign might have met.

        1. Minor correction: there was not sufficient evidence to charge criminal conspiracy from witnesses who would testify on the record, given the pattern of possible obstruction that the Special Prosecutor could not follow up, due to DOJ guidelines. Either way, there was no finding, either way, on collusion.

      1. Yeah, that unemployment number is just too high and the jobs created is pitiful. /s Your churlish juvenile sex obsession aside you are one of hateful clueless. Congrats!…

    1. No JWW, the “disaster” you mention was not precipitated by Trump’s actions. Read up a bit before you make such a stupid claim, (ironically while you are calling someone else a fool).

      It’s China’s upcoming policy, numb-nuts and, frankly only a dimwit will want to have their technology in China. The Chinese government will have lawful and technical access to all digital data within its borders and perhaps to large volumes of data beyond its borders…per policy and their law. In short, “what’s yours is mine”, says the Chinese govt. Encryption, vpn’s, and privacy in China…oh no, I’m sorry, “that isn’t allowed here”.

      Speaking directly to the poorly informing article you posted…this might give a valuable contra-point:

      “Expedited the two-decades-old effort to meld its private and defense communities, with Chinese President Xi Jingping explaining in early 2018 that “[i]mplementing the strategy of military-civilian integration is a prerequisite for building integrated national strategies and strategic capabilities and for realizing the Party’s goal of building a strong military in the new era.”

      That’s right, clear the deck….we only want our own tech when it comes to war. Think about it numb-nuts…Xi doesn’t want the possibility of our tech infiltrating their space. Why in the world is it thought crazy when Trump halts Huawei offerings in our country…especially when they’ve proven themselves untrustworthy?

      We are in a battle with China like the US has never experienced. Their understanding of “winning” is like to other “competitor” we’ve ever faced. So while your anti-Trump bias prevents you from seeing straight, one thing Trump has attempted is to break the Chinese’s absolute hijacking of our country…that every prez since Clinton permitted and promoted.

      Time will tell if his efforts will prove fruitful, but continuing “as-is” would have been sovereignty-suicide and I say this without a dose of hyperbole.

  1. Maybe the Federal government will subsidize HP, Microsoft and DELL for their lost business, the way the welfare queen American farmers are being subsidized? You know, the way all socialist governments operate. LOL

  2. Trump’s “help” is only short term. In the background, Trump is pulling America in a great mess again! His protectionism is a dangerous way leading straight to implosion.

    1. Yeah, and he is hurting employment. Hunter Biden is now hunting for a job. The America of Obama that enabled Biden to overcome his massive drug addiction and his desire to satisfy many women besides his wife while getting paid millions for doing absolutely nothing is no longer in existence. Trump has failed Biden and the Kerry spawn and countless other degenerate offspring of degenerate Democrat politicians who happily sell influence to get rich and to find anyone, anyone, who will employ their kids. Even evil “gas and oil companies” who are spewing poisons that will kill children and whales and polar bears and mosquitoes and other gentle creatures who are defenseless against global warming. All because of Hunter Biden. And Trump is the one to blame for the unemployment statistic.

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