Everybody knows that Congress is in gridlock. Lawmakers have been declaring that they will make no concessions. No concessions means no compromises. This does not instill confidence that progress will be made on either raising the debt ceiling before the August deadline or that revenues and expenditures will be soon brought into line with hard financial reality.

So it is increasingly remote that Congress will do what Warren Buffett said he would do and assume some responsibility for the country's financial well-being. Fellow Fool Morgan Housel brought our attention to Buffett's wild idea for helping the U.S. meet its debt obligations, if only as a stop-gap measure. Buffett suggests that corporations voluntarily prepay some of their taxes months ahead of their due date. Of course, he says, this would only bring in enough revenue for a day or two of breathing room.

That certainly is a noble thought, and I don't doubt that Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B), would indeed follow through. However, I would like to offer a more long-term tax collection solution: remove tax loopholes that allow highly profitable companies to keep their profits offshore, and in some cases, enable them to completely avoid paying U.S. corporate taxes.

General Electric (NYSE: GE), for example, hasn't paid any U.S. federal corporate tax at all for the last two years. The company has even received an IRS tax benefit of $4.1 billion over the last five years, a period in which the company made $26 billion in profits. This is how it works for GE: Its GE Capital division has two parts, a money-losing domestic part, and a money-making overseas part. The overseas profits can be deferred from U.S. taxes indefinitely, and the domestic losses can be used to offset GE's U.S. taxes. Neat, huh?

But everyone's doing it
Other companies also use overseas tax loopholes to save themselves tons of money. Take Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), which structured its recent $8.5 billion all-cash acquisition of Luxembourg-headquartered Skype to save billions of dollars by using its overseas profits -- also called "foreign trapped cash" -- to pay for the deal. This method kept up to $3 billion from making its way into the U.S. Treasury.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), too, is not above using overseas tax loopholes. It has been accused of complex income shifting schemes to funnel profits through tax havens like the Netherlands and Ireland to save on U.S. corporate taxes. The U.S. corporate tax rate is 35%, but Google, using the "Double Irish" and "Dutch Sandwich" income shifting strategies, managed a 2.4% overseas tax rate in 2010. Bermuda is involved in there, too.

Letting the fox in the henhouse
President Barack Obama promised during his campaign that he would close "corporate loopholes and [shut down] tax havens" that lowered the corporate share of U.S. tax revenue from 30% in the mid-1950s to 6.6% in 2009. But guess who he appointed as the chairman of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness? None other than Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric. Part of Immelt's mandate as chairman of the council is to discuss corporate taxes. If anyone should know about corporate taxes, it's Immelt, I guess. But is his perspective in the best interests of the United States or GE?

During his campaign, the president also said, "We can end tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and give those breaks to companies that create good jobs with decent wages here in America." The GE connection in that regard is also not promising: In the last nine years that company has eliminated 20% of its domestic workforce while increasing its overseas employees.

Warren Buffett is no (lower-case) fool. He didn't get where he is today by throwing his money away, and I'm sure his accounting department is going to take advantage of any edge the tax laws give them. But at least he realizes that a responsible corporate community is one that will not run away from its hometown obligations. That is the cost of doing good business. Congress, are you listening?

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.