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How pro-austerity executives use loopholes to break the debt

It's been a while since we've heard much from Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, but a new report details how the major corporations that back a group founded by the pro-austerity former lawmakers take advantage of a loophole to avoid paying taxes on some of what they pay their CEOs.

The report, from the liberal Institute for Policy Studies, finds that between 2009 and 2011, top executives at the 90 publicly held corporate members of the Fix the Debt coalition raked in at least $953 million -- and as much as $1.6 billion -- through the “performance pay” loophole, which counts some executive compensation as a tax-deductible business expense, instead of a salary. Fix the Debt, founded by Simpson and Bowles, is one of the many groups tied to Wall Streeter cum policy entrepreneur Pete Peterson, who has spent the last 20 years trying to reduce the debt, in large part through cuts to programs like Social Security and Medicare. The group has attracted some of the largest corporations in the country as sponsors, as well as former lawmakers, giving it serious clout in Washington.

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