Pressed on his proposal to rein in the indefinite deferral of corporate taxes on overseas earnings, Mr. Obama said he would be willing to consider lowering the 35% corporate tax rate as he closes other business-tax loopholes. "That's a very appealing conversation to me, and I'd like to pursue it," the president said.On June 17, 2008, Obama told the Wall Street Journal:
On the corporate side, for example, one of the things I've asked my folks to look at is: Are there ways we can close existing loopholes in tax havens at the same time as we're lowering overall rates? We've got this new problem: The biggest problem with our tax code when it comes to the business side is that we have one of the highest tax rates -- corporate tax rates -- on paper but our effective tax rate is one of the lowest … You know, how much you pay in taxes as a corporation a lot of times is going to depend on how good your lobbyist is, as opposed to any sound economic theories. So those distorting effects I'd like to actually remove and eliminate from our tax system, but obviously that's a complicated and difficult task. The last time we did it was in 1986. We're going to have to, I think, revisit that.I believe he said as much in debate with McCain, who had made lowering the corporate rate a central campaign plank: that lowering the rate would make sense if there weren't such a huge spread between the nominal corporate tax rate and what companies actually pay.
So once again, Obama showcases his willingness to compromise in a high profile forum without actually giving anything away.