JONATHAN CHAIT AUGUST 11, 2011
The controversy du jour seems to be Mitt Romney's claim, in response to hecklers, that corporations are people:
ROMNEY: We have to make sure that the promises we make — and Social Security, Medicaid, adn Medicare — are promises we can keep. And there are various ways of doing that. One is, we could raise taxes on people.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Corporations!
ROMNEY: Corporations are people, my friend. We can raise taxes on —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: No, they’re not!
ROMNEY: Of course they are. Everything corporations earn also goes to people.
ROMNEY: Where do you think it goes?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: It goes into their pockets!
ROMNEY: Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets! Human beings, my friend. So number one, you can raise taxes. That’s not the approach that I would take.
There is a controversy over whether corporations are people from the standpoint of law, with implications for free speech and other policy areas. That is not the point Romney was making. Romney was saying that taxes on corporations are in fact borne by people. Romney probably wouldn't admit that these are people who partially or completely own corporations, and thus far richer in the aggregate than the general public. But the fact is that they are people. Raising taxes on corporations is simply raising taxes on a certain category of people.