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‘We’ve never been a big hit with socialists,’ GE CEO says of Bernie Sanders

General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt.
General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt.(Brian Snyder/REUTERS)

General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt isn’t taking kindly to recent remarks by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders that GE is among corporations that are destroying the nation’s “moral fabric.”

In a fierce op-ed in the Washington Post Wednesday, Immelt slammed what he called “cheap shots” aimed at GE and defended the company’s tax burden, an issue that has been at the core of recent criticism of its move to Boston.

Sanders made the remarks last week during a meeting with the editorial board of the New York Daily News.

“What we have seen over the many years is shutting down of many major plants in this country. Sending jobs to low-wage countries. And General Electric, doing a very good job avoiding the taxes. In fact, in a given year, they pay nothing in taxes. That’s greed. That is greed and that’s selfishness. That is lack of respect for the people of this country,” Sanders said.

“GE has been in business for 124 years, and we’ve never been a big hit with socialists,” Immelt fired back in the op-ed. “We create wealth and jobs, instead of just calling for them in speeches. We take risks, invest, innovate and produce in ways that today sustain 125,000 US jobs.”

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Immelt also defended the conglomerate against charges that it dodges its tax liability.

“Repeating a lie over and over does not make it true,” Immelt wrote of Sanders’ claim that GE pays no taxes. But, Immelt wrote, “the US tax system has not been updated in 30 years and isn’t designed for today’s economy, which is why we support comprehensive tax reform — even if it raises our tax rate.”

Critics of the deal to bring GE to Boston have slammed the tax breaks used by state and local officials to secure the move, saying the money should instead go to schools, housing, or transportation.

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