If anyone thought that the Democrats capturing the U.S. Congress would result in any real change in Congressman Henry Cuellar, they were wrong. Just last week, Cuellar voted with only four other Democrats to allow Corporate CEO’s to be paid huge multi-million dollar compensation packages without ordinary shareholders having any opportunity to cast even a symbolic vote on whether the compensation was deserved or could be afforded. Cuellar’s “NO” vote on this common sense bill, H.R. 1257, makes it crystal clear he remains solidly on the side of irresponsible corporate fat cats and his friend George Bush, who vowed to veto the legislation after it passed the House.
Over the past several years, Cuellar has managed to vote with Bush 85% of the time – more than any other Democrat in even Bush’s home state of Texas. While some have suggested that now that the Democrats are in the majority he would change, this vote proved that this guy knows which side he’s on…and it’s not the side of working class families.
Cuellar’s vote shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, his top campaign contributors are the PACs of the right-wing Club for Growth (he was the first Democrat endorsed by the Club) and the International Bank of Commerce. And as Bush’s favorite Democrat, Cuellar is more likely do what’s helpful to corporate CEOs and the wealthiest in our country, rather than the regular working folks who, in large part, make up his constituents. Cuellar represents the Rio Grande Valley, which, according to the local paper, The Monitor.com, has "some of the lowest wages in the nation.").
As we wrote on the Wire at workingforus.org last week, in 1965 CEOs of major US companies made 24 times more than the average worker - by 2005, they made 262 times more. Given today's staggering disparity between the very rich and the poor, shining a little light on executive compensation packages is just common sense and we can't understand why Congressman Cuellar thinks this is a bad idea. (seeMissLaura’s recent post for more great info on income inequality)
The final tally for the vote was 269 - 134. 214 Democrats and 55 Republicans voted yes and only four other Democrats voted against the bill --Boyd (FL-2), Boyda (KS-2), Cardoza (CA-18) and Tanner (TN-8).
H.R. 1257 would allow shareholders to have an advisory vote on executive compensation. A shareholder voice in the executive pay process will encourage boards of directors to consider shareholder interests before approving questionable compensation plans. It’s one small but important step toward opening up the process around CEO pay packages and ensuring sound corporate governance. It shouldn’t be a difficult vote for a Democrat – and it wasn’t for 214 of them in Congress. But let’s face it – Henry Cuellar is a Democrat in name only.