Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – John Chambers didn’t duck the cameras of CBS’ “60 Minutes” when reporter Lesley Stahl went in search of U.S. firms moving headquarters and operations offshore to avoid U.S. taxes.

In an interview reminiscent of the Mike Wallace days, Stahl questioned Chambers pretty aggressively about why Cisco is keeping billions in profits parked away from U.S. taxes. To his credit, Chambers not only agreed to do an interview unlike other firms Stahl sought – including a personal visit to Zug, Switzerland, of all places. He then lobbied once more in favor of a one-time reduction in the U.S. corporate tax rate of 35 percent so Cisco and other companies could bring profits home. (Read here and here for our previous coverage of the issue.)

The term is “repatriation” for the money transfer. And Chambers said a lower rate would bring hundreds of billions of dollars back. He then said that money would lead to investment and jobs here rather than overseas.

“You lower the rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. You lose something like $2 trillion in taxes. We have a horrible deficit crisis, debt crisis. That’s almost too much money to lose. What’s your answer to that?” Stahl said.

“My answer’s very simple: every other developed country in the world has already done this. I’m not asking to give me a favor, or a hand out,” Chambers responded..

“You know what: it sounds it,” Stahl remarked.

Chambers replied, “All we’re asking is: Give us a level playing field. Get us close.”

Cisco, which employs some 4,000 people at its RTP campus, is far from alone in the lobbying effort, which so far has not paid any dividends with the Obama Administration or even some leading Republicans.

Just last week, a number of corporations formed a consortium to back what they are calling the “Win America Campaign.”

Duke Energy is one of the members.

Other backers include:

  • Adobe
  • Apple
  • Association for Competitive Technology
  • Broadcom
  • CA Technologies
  • Cisco
  • Cognizant
  • Consumer Electronics Association
  • Duke Energy
  • EMC Corporation
  • Google
  • ITI
  • Kodak
  • Microsoft
  • Pfizer
  • Oracle
  • Qualcomm
  • SoFTEC Finance & Tax Executives Council
  • TechAmerica
  • TechNet
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Visit the Win America website here.

Watch the full 60 minutes interview here.

For much more detail, check out in-depth reports from Bloomberg news and The Boston Globe.

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