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9 Greedy CEOs Trying to Shred the Safety Net While Pigging Out on Corporate Welfare

Financiers, polluters and other biz honchos team up to strangle the economy.

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Obviously, supporting disastrous financial deregulation, dodging taxes and helping to destroy American manufacturing has not satisfied Immelt. He’d like to add insult to injury by making sure that people who have been screwed by the reckless activities of short-sighted corporate titans like himself are left to starve in their golden years and go without medical care. And as for the poor, well, couldn’t they be just a little bit poorer? Immelt thinks that would be swell.

After the 2008 crash, the government gave a giant boost to hard-pressed GE Capital, the company’s financing arm, through the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program. GE has also helped itself to enormous taxpayer-funded subsidies, especially in green energy.  And guess how much GE paid in taxes in 2010? Nothing. In fact, using what the New York Times describes as its “innovative accounting practices,” it claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion!

3. Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co. At a recent gathering of the Council on Foreign Relations, Jamie Dimon vented his feelings about a number of things that peeve him, from a federal lawsuit brought against JPMorgan Chase to Obama’s failure to adopt the harmful and misguided Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan, which, among other things, recommended reducing the tax rate for top earners. Dimon has claimed that his bank did not need the TARP funds bestowed on it by the federal government, but there is no question that today his bank borrows funds more cheaply than smaller banks because of the federal government’s implicit too-big-too-fail guarantee.

Dimon is deploying a familiar scare tactic on the topic of the so-called fiscal cliff. He’s claiming that his company will be forced to cut down on hiring and so on if a budget plan is not tailored to enrich the wealthy. During a recent visit to India, he issued warnings to CNBC-TV18:

"I've spoken to CEOs who say, you know, absolutely, we are making decisions to protect ourselves from the ‘fiscal cliff’ and those are like investment decisions and hiring decisions.”

Maybe Dimon’s company would be better served figuring out what happened to the $6 billion that recently went up in smoke in the “London Whale” derivatives fiasco.

4. W. James McNerney, Jr., chairman, president and CEO, the Boeing Company. McNerney launched at Procter & Gamble, reached high altitude at GE and shot to the stratosphere by becoming head honcho at Boeing in 2005.

Boeing has been a long-time beneficiary of the government’s Export-Import Bank, which has financed sales of many of its planes. McNerney chairs President Obama's Export Council, where he works hard to arrange policies that benefit his company. He spent much of 2011 slugging it out with the National Labor Relations Board over moving assembly plants from Washington to South Carolina, a right-to-work state. That got settled, but now the profitable company is in a fight with engineers who don’t want their pensions chopped nearly in half. Boeing’s excuse? It wants to keep the engineers “competitive.” Union members have r eported intimidation from the company’s management as the dispute has intensified.

The Boeing boss is now crying “deficit” and asks for your retirement money. Pretty brassy, considering that the company paid not a single penny in taxes between 2008 and 2011. In fact, Citizens for Tax Justice calculates that Boeing actually got money back from the U.S. government over the past decade, “paying a negative 6.5 percent tax rate, even though it was profitable every year from 2002 through 2011.”

5. David Cote, chairman and CEO, Honeywell International Inc. David Cote is a veteran of GE and also sits on the board of JPMorgan Chase, where he is one of three members of the risk committee that failed to prevent the disastrous $6 billion trading loss mentioned above. Cote has led Honeywell, one of the world’s largest industrial conglomerates, since 2002.  Along with GE and Boeing, Honeywell shares the distinction of being a top corporate polluter.