Roundup: Editorial opinions from other papers

Editorial roundup

Obama must end phony intelligence reports

It’s bad enough that Pentagon supervisors would sugarcoat intelligence reports on how the military is faring against any foreign adversary. But doing it in regard to assessments of the Islamic State group when jihadists are expanding their attacks abroad risks the security of the U.S. and its allies.

The inspector general of the Defense Department is expanding an internal investigation of the U.S. Central Command on suspicions that supervisors revised intelligence reports on the Islamic State to present a more optimistic account of U.S. efforts. The New York Times reported months ago that Centcom intelligence accounts were being recast by supervisors; recently it said the Pentagon’s inspector general obtained emails and documents to chart the revised assessments.

President Barack Obama reacted to the news by ordering senior defense staff to root out whether the intelligence briefs had indeed been recast to paint a rosy picture not supported by reality.

The inspector general’s investigators are reportedly comparing Centcom intelligence reports to assessments on similar matters made by the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and other analysts.

No one benefits from intelligence reports that are spun to lead the reader to a false conclusion. In an ever-dangerous world, the facts are necessary not just for being accurate, but for protecting lives.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 24

A prescription for tax avoidance

You’ve got to hand it to pharmaceutical giant Pfizer: It’s managing to make Americans resent drug companies even more than they already did.

The maker of Viagra and Lipitor is the latest to announce a merger designed at least in part to escape high U.S. corporate tax rates. In a $160 billion deal, it would subsume itself into a smaller foreign rival, Allergan, to create the world’s largest drug manufacturer — still called Pfizer, still operating out of New York City, but based for tax purposes in Allergan’s home of Ireland.

To many policymakers, these tie-ups are nothing more than tax evasion; the U.S. companies involved often don’t move their operations, they just use accounting techniques to shift what tax authorities consider their home.

Last week the Treasury Department announced new rules aimed at blocking this sort of corporate “inversion,” but Pfizer and Allergan structured their deal to shield them from those regulations. That’s been the result every time Congress or the administration has tried to halt these maneuvers: Companies figure out how to do them anyway.

The root of the problem is lawmakers have enacted tax policies without regard for what the rest of the world does. Not only does the U.S. have the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, it’s the last of the major countries to tax a multinational company’s foreign profits. The result is a powerful incentive for companies to plant their headquarters elsewhere, or just not to repatriate any of the money earned outside our borders.

Congress needs to make business taxes more competitive with the rest of the world’s. It’s something lawmakers will have to do if they want to stop the exodus of multi-nationals to lower-tax locales.

Los Angeles Times, Nov. 26