Sen. John McCain of Arizona — the top Republican on an oversight committee that questioned Apple Inc.’s CEO Tuesday — criticized fellow GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky for attacking the panel’s inquiry.
Paul, a libertarian and tea party favorite, had apologized to Apple chief Tim Cook for making him appear before Congress, saying lawmakers were “bullying, berating and badgering one of America’s greatest success stories.” He argued that Apple has simply been playing by the complicated tax rules Congress itself had established. Paul had said in the committee hearing that he was “offended by the tone and tenor” of the session.
McCain did not take too kindly to Paul’s approach.
“I just asked Mr. Cook, ‘Do you feel bullied or harassed,’ and he said, ‘No, I wanted to come before this subcommittee and describe why I think what we are doing is right and good for America,’” McCain said after the hearing. “The guy came to my office and said ‘I am eager to testify.’ To say that you could bully and harass a man of his talents and skills is ludicrous.”
Paul had delivered some of the most impassioned remarks of the hearing investigating the offshore tax policies of American companies. A report by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations generated in preparation for this hearing suggested that Apple avoided paying tens of billions of dollars in taxes by creating overseas subsidiaries. Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., had called Apple’s efforts “the holy grail of tax avoidance.”
Here are some of the key points of Paul’s statements:
“I am offended by a $4 trillion government bullying, berating and badgering one of America’s greatest success stories. Tell me one of these politicians up here that doesn’t minimize their taxes. Tell me a chief financial officer that you would hire if he didn’t try to minimize your taxes legally. Tell me what Apple has done that is illegal,” Paul said.
“This committee will admit: Apple has not broken any laws. Yet, they are forced into a show trial at the whims of politicians, when in fact; Congress should be on trial for chasing the profits of great American companies overseas,” he continued. “Instead of Apple executives, you should have brought in a giant mirror, so we could look at the reflection of Congress because this problem is solely and completely created by the awful tax code. If you want to assign blame, the Committee needs to look in the mirror and see who created this mess, see who created the tax code that drives American companies overseas.”
Niels Lesniewski has covered the Senate for CQ Roll Call since January 2010, and more recently as a staff writer and resident procedure guru for Roll Call. Niels holds degrees in both government and theater but sometimes can't tell the difference between the two. @nielslesniewski
Meredith Shiner has covered Senate leadership, legislation and everything in between for Roll Call since joining in June 2011, having previously covered Congress and national politics for Politico. @meredithshiner