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10 Filthy-Rich, Tax-Dodging Hypocrites Pushing Disastrous Austerity on America

The Fix the Debt coalition is using the so-called “fiscal cliff” to push the same old corporate agenda of more tax breaks while shifting the burden on to the rest of us.

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3. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs

Few corporations have been as dependent on U.S. taxpayers for their very existence as Goldman Sachs. The 2008 bailout of American International Group and the steady stream of low- and non-interest loans for the financial sector have kept the company alive.

CEO Blankfein says he’d accept a small increase in individual taxes for the wealthy in exchange for a comprehensive budget deal. But his corporate tax proposals would wipe out the revenue gains from rolling back the Bush tax cuts for top earners. Blankfein is a big supporter of the territorial tax system explained above. This is hardly a surprise, since Goldman Sachs already operates 37 subsidiaries in tax havens.

Blankfein has also used his position at the helm of the Financial Services Forum, a club for the CEOs of 20 top banks, to oppose financial transaction taxes -- small levies on trades of stock, derivatives, and other financial instruments. Goldman Sachs has made as much as $300 million per year from the volatile high-frequency trading strategies that would be hardest hit by such a transaction tax. In early October, 11 European governments announced a plan to implement such taxes, with expected revenues in the neighborhood of $ 75 billion per year. But Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms have blocked U.S. progress on this major revenue-raiser.

4. Brian T. Moynihan, Bank of America

After a decade of risky and reckless mortgage lending, Bank of America survived the 2008 financial crash with the help of a $45 billion bailout. Today, Bank of America sits on $128 billion in cash — $18 billion of it is overseas —and much of that is sitting in the company’s 115 tax haven subsidiaries.

Last year, after investors saw their stock price decline 58 percent and 30,000 Bank of America employees lost their jobs to layoffs, CEO Brian Moynihan saw his compensation quadruple to more than $8 million. His predecessor, Ken Lewis, raked in more than $50 million in the two years before the housing bubble that Bank of America had help inflate burst in 2008.

5. David Cote, Honeywell Corporation

Over the last three years, Honeywell received more than $2.7 billion in federal defense contracts and reported more than $2.5 billion in U.S. pre-tax profits. And yet thanks to corporate deductions, tax subsidies, and loopholes, Honeywell has claimed $377 million in federal tax refunds during this period.

Honeywell CEO David Cote has been a fixture at Congressional hearings calling for a territorial tax system for corporations. He is also Vice-Chair of the Business Roundtable, a club for big business CEOs that has called for an extension of all the Bush tax cuts, including those for millionaires and billionaires, as well as the tax cuts on unearned income from capital gains and dividends. These combined measures would add $1.5 trillion to the debt over the next ten years.

6. Randall Stephenson, AT&T

AT&T is another firm that paid its CEO more last year than they paid in federal corporate income taxes. CEO Randall Stephenson made $18.7 million, while the firm enjoyed a $420 million refund from Uncle Sam.

AT&T is a major beneficiary of “accelerated depreciation” rules that allow companies to turbo-charge tax deductions in the early years of the life of an asset. A 2009 accelerated depreciation rule saved the company $5.2 billion on their 2011 taxes, according to the firm’s 10-K report. Although touted as a way to jumpstart spending in a downturn, such tax breaks often result in taxpayers bearing a substantial portion of the cost of investments firms would’ve made anyway.

 
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