The Campaign to Fix the Debt: A Trojan Horse With No Name
All of a sudden America’s CEOs are terribly concerned about the federal government’s debt. They are so concerned, in fact, that they have launched a group project that they are calling The Campaign to Fix the Debt, under the auspices of Pete Peterson’s Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), complete with website and activist power tools. The campaign appears to be based on a presumption that the majority of Americans are too stupid and/or self-involved to remember that these are the very same buckaroos who made the US debt what it is today, or to recognize an opportunistic power grab by insatiable plutocrats when they see one.
The cast of characters listed on the CEO Fiscal Leadership Council (gawd, do you believe it?) reads like a Who’s Who of stimulus-sucking, tax evading, government contract vampires and not only are they barnstorming the media with their “fiscal leadership” strategies but there is a concerted effort to continue to pressure their employees to take an active political part in their bosses’ agenda. Their website provides canned presentations for in-house use, and form letters for employee outreach as well as form letters that can be distributed to employees to send to their Congressional representatives.
In my time, I have labored under a few high profile CEOs (Henry Schact, Rich McGinn, Carly Fiorina) and I can attest that, at that level, these boys and girls are a special breed who would cheerfully drown kittens to improve their bottom line. So when these “players” get together and pony up $60 million for a Campaign to Fix the Debt, they are not motivated by altruism or civic-mindedness—they smell a big payoff in it for themselves. Remember, these are the folks that made lemonade for themselves and their heirs out of a global economic recession. Losing is not in their vocabulary . . .
So what is it that these exalted fiscal brainiacs suggest to Fix the Debt? Two simple things, basically: Their first recommendation is to award themselves a huge windfall gift-that-keeps-on-giving, via their legislative friends, in the form of a “territorial tax system” reform that would exempt their companies’ foreign profits from taxation, netting them about $134 billion in tax savings. Those are my words, here’s how the CEOs put it: “replace mindless, abrupt deficit reduction with thoughtful changes that reform the tax code.” Sounds so moderate, so benign, doesn’t it
The second recommendation is to cut waaaaaay back on the social safety net and things that they consider “low priority spending” so that the government will have more money to spend on contracts with? you guessed it! Here’s how they frame that one “keep debt under control over the long-term by focusing on the long-term growth of entitlement programs and low-priority spending.”
Many of the companies recommending austerity would be out of business without the heavy federal support they get, including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, which both received billions in direct bailout cash, plus billions more indirectly through AIG and other companies taxpayers rescued.
Just three of the companies—GE, Boeing and Honeywell—were handed nearly $28 billion last year in federal contracts alone.
Here’s what Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman-Sachs had to say about slashing the social safety net that keeps us old moochers alive:
[Social Security] “wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30 year retirement after a 25-year career. The key to cutting Social Security [is] simply a matter of teaching people to expect less.”
Easy for Lloyd to say:
After receiving a $10 billion federal bailout in 2008, and paying it back a few years later, Goldman Sachs recently exceeded Wall Street analysts’ expectations by announcing $8.4 billion in third quarter revenues for 2012. Blankfein is expected to take home an even larger salary than he did in 2011, when he made $16.1 million.
If you’d like to get further into the nuts and bolts of what these CEO’s are up to, The Institute for Policy Studies, in Washington, DC, has done a brief but excellent report entitled: The CEO Campaign to ‘Fix’ the Debt: A Trojan Horse for Massive Corporate Tax Breaks.
Here are a few fun facts from their Key Findings:
The Fix the Debt campaign has raised $60 million and recruited more than 80 CEOs of America’s most powerful corporations to lobby for a debt deal that would reduce corporate taxes and shift costs onto the poor and elderly.
The 63 Fix the Debt companies that are publicly held stand to gain as much as $134 billion in windfalls if Congress approves one of their main proposals — a “territorial tax system.” These same companies currently have $418 billion parked offshore.
The CEOs backing Fix the Debt personally received a combined total of $41 million in savings last year thanks to the Bush-era tax cuts.
And my personal fave:
Of the 63 Fix the Debt CEOs at publicly held firms, 24 received more in compensation last year than their corporations paid in federal corporate income taxes.
So, if you’re still working age, don’t be surprised if an employee forum near you features Campaign to Fix the Debt propaganda with free handouts of form letters to send to your representatives pushing for corporate welfare for your bosses. I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to make it sound like it’s good for you (actually, if you end up making $16 million/year, it might be).
Also, try to keep in mind that these guys are still in business because “we the people” bailed out their sorry asses after they defrauded us, danced on our heads and eluded justice. We pay more in taxes than they do but Congress is far more likely to reward them with even lower taxes than to pay any attention to us about how to spend our tax dollars. Isn’t there something blatantly un-American about such unfairness on such a grand scale?
Here’s a nice clip of Lloyd Blankety-Blankfein preachin the gospel of greed: