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Hand grasping at $100 bills
A few weeks ago, Meteor Blades wrote about a bunch of high-profile, "patriotic" CEOs who have gotten together to create an organization they call "Fix the Debt." The group is pushing an agenda of austerity and tax cuts and "has raised $60 million and recruited more than 80 CEOs" to influence the fiscal cliff artifice negotiations. That's according to the Institute for Policy Studies, and is revealed in their new report. At the top of the list for Fix the Debt is preserving the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, reducing corporate taxes, and offsetting it all by cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

These CEOs, of course, have nothing to worry about in their own retirements. According to this report, 54 of them have combined pension assets of more than $649 million from their company's executive retirement fund. Plenty of these same companies are in arrears in their pension systems for employees.

The CEOs' employees are much less secure in their retirement than the CEOs. According to the report, less than 60 percent of the 71 public companies offer pension plans for their employees. Of the 41 companies that do, 39 of them haven't contributed enough to their workers' pension funds to enable the plans to pay out their anticipated obligations. Among the companies with employee pension funds in the red, these deficits exceed $100 billion. [...]

The companies in arrears on their pension funds include defense giant Boeing, which paid CEO Jim McNerney $23 million last year; Honeywell, where CEO Dave Cote earned more than $55 million in compensation in 2011; and AT&T, which docked CEO Randall Stephenson's pay by $2 million last year after he orchestrated a failed takeover of T-Mobile. The $2 million penalty meant that Stephenson made only $22 million total that year, as opposed to the $24 million he would otherwise have been paid.

That's not enough, however. It's never enough. Here's what else they're attempting to achieve, and to protect, according to the ICP report.
  • 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.” Under this system, companies would not have to pay U.S. federal income taxes on foreign earnings when they bring the profits back to the United States.
  • 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. The top CEO beneficiary of the Bush tax cuts in 2011, Leon Black of Apollo Global Management, saved $9.9 million on the Bush tax cuts. The private equity fund leader reaped $215 million in taxable income last year just from vested stock.
  • 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. All but six of these firms reported U.S. profits last year.
Here's why Fix the Debt is back in the news this week. The organization, which is led by Erskine Bowles, has some pretty high profile meetings with senior White House staff and House Republican leadership. If there's any sanity left in this process, they'll be laughed out of at least one of those meetings.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 02:47 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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