Huntsman: ‘It’s criminal that you’ve got some corporations not paying taxes’

Its criminal that companies such as General Electric are able to avoid their tax burden because of loopholes in the code, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) said Wednesday.

Huntsman condemned loopholes and exemptions in the tax code, but said he would not support tax reform thats used to raise overall rates.

Its criminal that you've got some corporations not paying taxes, the former ambassador to China said in Miami, where he was announcing a new endorsement in his presidential campaign. Like GE, for instance. Thats got to come to an end.

Huntsmans remarks came in reaction to a question about the supercommittee being formed as a result of the debt-ceiling deal that will consider new ways to reduce the deficit. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday morning each named three representatives to the panel

Huntsman was referring to eye-popping reports earlier this year that GE functionally paid no taxes on $5.1 billion in profits for 2010. Thats not quite accurate, reported ProPublica, though the company admitted to a small U.S. income tax liability for last year.

Democrats are pushing for tax reforms as part of the supercommittees considerations that would close loopholes and lower the overall rates, but result in a heavier tax burden for the wealthy and corporations so that new revenue is gleaned from the tax structure.

Huntsman said he wouldnt back such a reform.

This is not a time to put a tax burden our people, he said. Ending loopholes can be applied to lowering the overall rates, and thats exactly what I would do.

Republicans have generally been willing to embrace tax reform, but not to the extent that it would raise revenues, which they call tax hikes. That extends to Huntsmans competitors for the Republican nomination.

Huntsman announced Wednesday morning that Jeb Bush Jr., son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush Sr. (R) was endorsing Huntsmans campaign. The endorsement, the campaign hopes, will bolster Huntsmans standing in the polls at this point.

Huntsman explained that he wasnt sweating single-digit polling at this point because the race wouldnt begin in earnest until fall. Besides, Huntsman said, the race will shift dramatically this weekend when most candidates compete in the Ames straw poll in Iowa. (Huntsman wont join them.)

All of the early numbers and theatrics around positioning — its all political theater at this point, he said. Were going to wake up on Sunday morning after a debate, after the straw poll in Iowa, and the field will probably have changed dramatically.