Democrats seem to have a new enemy No. 1 in the lead-up to the November elections. And it's this guy:
Come again? Burger King is buying Canadian chain Tim Hortons for $11.4 billion, and the newly combined company will be located in Canada rather than the U.S. That means a tax break for the King, thanks to a maneuver known as a "tax inversion," which allows companies to dodge the U.S.'s high corporate tax rate. This is what has some lawmakers incensed.
Businesses moving overseas (or over borders) has long been a political flashpoint for members of both parties. The Obama administration has moved to address the problem, with Treasury Department officials convening earlier this month to discuss options to keep more companies on U.S. soil.
The response: Obama may have chided companies for their lack of "economic patriotism," but that's nothing compared to the Burger King blowback from a few senators.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) came down hardest: "Burger King has always said 'Have It Your Way'; well, my way is to support two Ohio companies that haven't abandoned their country or customers," he said in a statement. "To help business grow in America, taxpayers have funded public infrastructure, workforce training and incentives to encourage R&D and capital investment. Runaway corporations benefited from those policies but want U.S. companies to pay their share of the tab."
Brown added that Americans should eat at Wendy's or White Castle instead. (Both happen to be based in his home state of Ohio.)
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) also called out Burger King, using it as an opportunity to pitch closing corporate tax loopholes. "Today's report that Burger King may receive a tax break for renouncing its U.S. citizenship is another example of why Congress can't afford to wait any longer to put a stop to tax dodging through this kind of merger," he said Monday. "If this merger goes through, there could well be a strong public reaction against Burger King that could more than offset any tax benefit it receives from a tax avoidance move."
The real tragedy: While Burger King's move likely means less money for the U.S. government, it also paves the way for a dramatic increase in terrible, terrible fast food puns.
Brown's "have it your way" dig only opened the floodgates. If the chain's northward move continues to be a political issue, get ready to hear plenty more from politicians and news articles alike. Here's MSNBC calling it "flame-broiled criticism." The Daily Beast says Democrats are in for a "whopper of a surprise" and "wasted no time applying the special sauce."
Come on, everyone. We can be better than this. It's enough to make you want to move to Canada.