AlterNet.org: Sarah Anderson https://www.alternet.org/authors/sarah-anderson en The Activists Who Helped Shut Down Trump’s CEO Councils https://www.alternet.org/right-wing/activists-who-helped-shut-down-trumps-ceo-councils <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Many of the CEOs on these councils had been under heavy pressure to disavow Trump’s agenda of hate and racism even before Charlottesville.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/132739021_abdd1918c9_o_0.jpg?itok=u5aif5wU" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The CEOs who made up two White House advisory councils have fled like rats on a sinking ship. Their exodus — a dramatic rebuke of Donald Trump — came within 48 hours of the incendiary August 15 press conference where the President praised some of the participants of last week’s white supremacist rampage in Charlottesville, Virginia.</p><p>But many of the CEOs on these councils had been under heavy pressure to disavow Trump’s agenda of hate and racism even before Charlottesville. That pressure came from grassroots activists.</p><p>The Center for Popular Democracy, Make The Road New York, New York Communities for Change, and several other immigrant and worker advocates had <a href="http://time.com/4755885/trump-protests-corporations-activists/">led that activist campaign</a>, targeting the leaders of nine major corporations affiliated with the Trump administration. The campaign, working through a web site called <a href="http://www.backersofhate.org/en/">Corporate Backers of Hate</a>, detailed the connections between the nine companies and the Trump administration and encouraged people to send emails to both the CEOs involved and members of their corporate boards.</p><p>Throughout the spring and summer, the campaign also held protests against the companies, including a <a href="http://observer.com/2017/05/trump-corporations-immigrants-may-day-protesters-arrested-nypd/">civil disobedience action</a> at the JPMorgan Chase headquarters on May Day, where 12 were arrested, and a <a href="http://www.newsweek.com/jpmorgan-chase-jamie-dimon-immigration-private-prison-protest-make-road-610463">march</a> to JPMorgan’s annual shareholder meeting, where protestors confronted CEO Jamie Dimon for his company’s financing of private immigrant detention and mass incarceration.</p><p>The campaign also worked with a broad network of groups, including CREDO, Color of Change, SumOfUs, and Ultraviolet, to gather petitions calling for CEOs to step down from the Business Council. On August 16, they delivered more than 400,000 petitions collected from across the country to New York City offices of JPMorgan and the Blackstone private equity group, demanding that their CEOs withdraw from Trump’s advisory bodies.</p><p>Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman chaired Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum and had personally recruited the group’s 16 members, a cohort of execs that included current and past CEOs from some of the country’s largest firms, among them Walmart, General Electric, IBM, and General Motors. Schwarzman’s firm has become one of the country’s largest owners of real estate, and Schwarzman himself has reportedly developed a very close personal relationship with President Trump, sometimes speaking to him <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/donald-trump-steven-schwarzman-ceo-white-house-advisers-237168">several times a week</a>.</p><p>The news earlier this week that the CEO councils had been disbanded brought a quick reaction from Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy. The choice that executives made to quit the Business Council, Archila noted, “should have been clear long ago – and because of the tireless and courageous advocacy of those who are affected most by Trump’s agenda, they finally made that choice today.”</p><p>JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon also issued a personal <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/16/business/trumps-council-ceos.html">statement</a> after the councils disbanded.</p><p>“There is no room for equivocation here: the evil on display by these perpetrators of hate should be condemned,” Dimon noted, “and has no place in a country that draws strength from our diversity and humanity.”</p><p>Archila and other activists are demanding that the CEOs like Dimon go further to reject Trump’s agenda. These execs, she stresses, need “to make clear that white supremacy has no place in this country – and neither do the private prisons and immigrant detention centers that they help finance.”</p><p>Daniel Cortés, a member of Make the Road New York who lives in Queens and was part of the group delivering the petitions, says he couldn’t believe the leaders of JPMorgan Chase and Blackstone agreed to join Trump’s business council in the first place.</p><p>“I’m glad to hear they’re gone,” adds Cortés. “But they still need to stand up against his hateful agenda that targets people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and women. If they don’t, they will remain backers of hate and they will continue to feel our outrage.”</p> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 13:33:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, Inequality.org 1081376 at https://www.alternet.org The Right Wing The Right Wing trump The Noxious Combination of Racism, the Alt Right and the Upper Class https://www.alternet.org/right-wing/noxious-combination-racism-alt-right-and-upper-class <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">When President Trump equated white supremacists with anti-racism protesters, he was sending a message to the thugs in the streets and to some in executive suites. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/koch-brothers-800x430.jpg?itok=K4H8z9JI" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>When President Donald Trump let loose at his Tuesday press conference, equating anti-racism protesters with neo-Nazis, it was a big hit with the men who’d taken part in the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.</p><p>But Trump wasn’t just playing to the kind of racist crowd that marches around carrying Tiki torches and waving swastika flags in the streets. He was also sending a signal to those in the executive suites.</p><p>Racism has always permeated this country up and down the income scale. And in our era of extreme concentration of economic and political power, emboldening just a few men at the top can be tremendously dangerous.</p><p>Take, for example, three of the country’s highest-flying financiers: Robert Mercer, Peter Thiel, and Daniel Loeb.</p><p>Mercer, the Co-CEO of the $50 billion Renaissance Technologies hedge fund, is also one of <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/24/mercers-conservative-hedge-fund-operators-own-much-breitbart-news/98360454/">three owners</a> of Breitbart News, the outlet Trump strategist (and former Breitbart editor) Steve Bannon <a href="http://www.bostonherald.com/news/us_politics/2017/08/steve_bannon_s_reported_ties_to_nationalists_come_to_forefront_again_after">has described</a> as a “platform for the alt-right.”</p><p>With Mercer’s financial support, Breitbart has become a significant media force. While readership is down from its peak during the election campaign, the site attracted <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/is-breitbart-news-veering-away-from-the-farthest-far-right/2017/06/06/35f91160-4ad1-11e7-a186-60c031eab644_story.html">11 million</a> unique visitors in May of this year.</p><p>Breitbart celebrated Trump’s fiery press conference with a red <a href="http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/08/15/donald-trump-reporters-charlottesville-violence/">banner headline</a>: “POTUS Comes Roaring Back with Press Smackdown at Trump Tower.” For years now, the site has helped build the base of support for last Saturday’s rampage by posting numerous articles defending symbols of the Confederacy such as the Robert E. Lee statue that was the focus of the Charlottesville rally.</p><p>In “<a href="http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/07/01/hoist-it-high-and-proud-the-confederate-flag-proclaims-a-glorious-heritage/">Hoist It High And Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage</a>,” for example, columnist Gerald Warner lashed out at campaigns to remove flags from government property that represent the forces which declared war on the United States to protect the institution of slavery. These anti-flag efforts, Warner declared, were part of a liberal agenda of “cultural genocide.”</p><p>Trump’s press conference performance helped legitimize Breitbart and its co-owner Mercer, who gave $15.5 million in support of the president’s election campaign, according to the <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/pres16/contributors?id=N00023864">Center for Responsive Politics</a>.</p><p>Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel is another close Trump ally who doesn’t seem to mind hobnobbing with the alt-right. According to the <em><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/16/technology/peter-thiel-donald-j-trump.html?_r=0">New York Times</a></em>, Thiel donated $1.25 million through a combination of super PACs to Trump’s campaign and served on his transition team. The former Paypal CEO made a fortune as an early investor in Facebook and today <em><a href="https://www.forbes.com/profile/peter-thiel/?list=billionaires">Forbes</a></em> estimates his net worth at $2.7 billion.</p><p>According to <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/business/21699954-tech-billionaire-has-morphed-libertarian-corporate-nietzschean-evolution"><em>The Economist</em></a>, Thiel’s early political activism involved crusading against efforts to promote multiculturalism and diversity at Stanford University. Then in a 2009 <a href="https://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/education-libertarian">essay</a> for the Cato Institute, he declared that he no longer believed that “freedom and democracy are compatible” and lamented the extension of voting rights to women because they tend to not lean libertarian.</p><p>And so it’s hardly surprising that Thiel felt comfortable accepting an invitation to speak at a September 2016 conference in Turkey hosted by the ultra-right Property and Freedom Society. According to the <a href="https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2016/06/09/paypal-co-founder-peter-thiel-address-white-nationalist-friendly-%E2%80%9Cproperty-and-freedom">Southern Poverty Law Center</a>, the annual confab has often featured white nationalists, including Richard Spencer, one of the stars of the Charlottesville rally. Thiel <a href="http://www.towleroad.com/2016/07/peter-thiel-fascist/">canceled</a> this speaking gig around the time of his address to the Republican National Convention. But he did find time to attend the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/03/silicon-valley-tech-alt-right-racism-misogyny/">DeploraBall</a>, a gathering of far-right activists and conspiracy theorists during Trump’s inauguration. In the wake of the Charlottesville catastrophe, Thiel has <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/17/tim-cook-mark-zuckerberg-google-tech-ceos-respond-to-charlottesville-rally.html">declined to respond</a> to media requests for comment.</p><p>Another <a href="https://www.forbes.com/profile/daniel-loeb/?list=billionaires">Wall Street mega-billionaire</a>, hedge fund tycoon Daniel Loeb, has been doing his part to normalize white supremacist rhetoric in 2017 America. Twice now he’s <a href="https://dealbreaker.com/2017/08/dan-loeb-sure-loves-comparing-public-servants-to-the-kkk/">gone on record</a> attacking teachers union leaders and politicians opposed to charter schools by claiming they’ve done more to harm people of color than the KKK. Yes, in his mind supporting traditional public schools is worse than lynching. Loeb also once used the Yiddish slur for blacks, <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-hedgefunds-fairfax-loeb-idUSTRE72A4NH20110311">“schwarze,”</a> to refer to a competing CEO who happened to be of Indian ancestry.</p><p>Unlike Mercer and Thiel, Loeb is not a close ally of Trump, but he’s a major political player in New York state. In a <a href="http://cityandstateny.com/articles/opinion/dan-loeb-and-the-political-price-of-racism.html">recent commentary</a>, Zakiyah Ansari, of the Alliance for Quality Education, and Jonathan Westin, of New York Communities for Change, called for New York political leaders, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, to give back the hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations they’ve received from Loeb.</p><p>“When racism is not met with an immediate rebuke, it is legitimized and seen as acceptable behavior, especially for white men who are wealthy and well connected,” Ansari and Westin wrote.</p><p>By praising the many “fine people” who were “innocently protesting” as part of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Trump sent a dangerous message to the thugs in the streets — and to those at the top of American society who wield much more power.</p> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 11:05:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, Inequality.org 1081245 at https://www.alternet.org The Right Wing The Right Wing white supremacists Robert Mercer peter thiel Daniel Loeb Driving habits of the 1% How Air Conditioning Is a Hidden and Major Class Divide in America https://www.alternet.org/economy/how-air-conditioning-unites-and-divides <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Most Americans now have A/C at home, but not work.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_113353543.jpg?itok=jlAOsna6" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Before air conditioning, even presidents had to suffer.</p><p>In the summer months, Abraham Lincoln used to ride a horse every evening from the White House to a cottage at a higher elevation four miles away. There he’d join his family in an attempt to escape the muggiest depths of the nation’s capital.</p><p>In July 1881, White House aides took to blowing air through sheets dunked in ice water in an effort to cool a severely wounded James Garfield. He wound up dying from an assassin’s bullet.</p><p>In 1909, William Howard Taft took the desperate step of sleeping on the White House roof to escape the furnace that is a Washington summer.</p><p>Back then, you could say, extreme heat was a social leveler. When air conditioning first entered American homes, it created a deep divide. Only the extremely wealthy — the ones least likely to have a job that required working up a sweat — could afford these newfangled contraptions.</p><p>Minneapolis railroad tycoon Charles Gates is believed to be the first to purchase a home cooling unit in 1914. At 7 feet high and 20 feet long, the device required a mansion-size home.</p><p>Smaller window units hit the market in the 1930s, but at a cost of more than <a href="http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to/a7951/a-brief-history-of-air-conditioning-10720229/">$120,000</a> in today’s dollars, they were beyond the reach of the vast majority of Americans. As late as 1965, just 10 percent of U.S. homes had air conditioning.</p><p>Today, the economic divide created by home air conditioning is virtually gone. The Department of Energy estimates that <a href="https://www.eia.gov/consumption/residential/reports/2009/air-conditioning.php" rel="noopener noreferrer">nearly 90 percent</a> of U.S. families have either central air or window units.</p><p>The modern divide is in the workplace.</p><p>In my Washington, D.C. office, colleagues routinely wrap themselves in blankets for long meetings in our refrigerator-like conference room. And throughout the city, you can see men in dark suits and ties even when temperatures soar near 100 degrees. They may complain (and they do), but they spend so little time exposed to the elements that their hot uniforms aren’t much of a health risk.</p><p>The people who have to work outside are the ones who really suffer. And outdoor workers, the people who harvest our food, build our homes and bridges, and care for our greenery, tend to also be among the lowest-paid.</p><p>In Las Vegas, where luxury hotels blast cool air out onto the sidewalk, construction workers in the desert heat have sometimes had to fight for the right to water breaks. In the landscaping industry, which employs more than 900,000 workers nationally, average pay is just $28,560 per year, one of the lowest of any occupation tracked by the U.S. Labor Department.</p><p>And those are official statistics based on full-time employment. Outdoor workers’ actual earnings are likely much lower.</p><p>The Economic Policy Institute recently pointed out that most California farmworkers have unpredictable, seasonal work hours. In 2015, that state’s agricultural workers earned an average of just $17,500 per year, <a href="http://www.epi.org/blog/farmworker-wages-in-california-large-gap-between-full-time-equivalent-and-actual-earnings/" rel="noopener noreferrer">EPI estimates</a>.</p><p>The health risks of outdoor work will only worsen, of course, with climate change. And one contributor to that change, ironically, is the air-conditioning boom in the developing world.</p><p>The rapid increase in <a href="http://grist.org/food/how-air-conditioning-made-america-and-how-it-could-break-us-all/" rel="noopener noreferrer">air conditioner sales</a> is narrowing the gaps between cool air haves and have-nots in countries like China, India, and Brazil — just as it did in the United States. But this boom will also generate massive greenhouse gas emissions that will make the planet even hotter.</p><p>Today’s air conditioning gaps are a symptom of much bigger problems with complex solutions.</p><p>On the labor side, we need to ensure living wages and safe working conditions for all workers. At the same time, we need to get serious about addressing climate change in a way that puts the greatest responsibility on those who have contributed the most to this global challenge.</p> Wed, 09 Aug 2017 13:41:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, OtherWords 1080844 at https://www.alternet.org Economy Economy air conditioning labor environment inequality If Washington Won’t Rein in Corporate Greed, Your State Might https://www.alternet.org/economy/if-washington-wont-rein-corporate-greed-your-state-might <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A business owner turned state legislator is working to rein in runaway pay at the top of the corporate ladder.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_133007996.jpg?itok=3yr6edQV" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Josh Elliott is fed up with overpaid CEOs. As the owner of a Connecticut natural foods market with 40 employees, he says he could never justify pocketing hundreds of times more pay than his employees.</p><p>“I’m very much a capitalist,” Elliott told me in an interview. “But there need to be limits.”</p><p>Skyrocketing CEO pay and inequality last year motivated this 32-year-old businessman to launch a successful bid for a seat in the Connecticut General Assembly. Elliott hit back hard on the campaign trail against right-wing claims about high taxes driving wealthy job creators out of his state.</p><p>“This is not an issue of over-taxation — it’s an issue of taxing the wrong people and the wrong entities,” he told the <a href="http://www.nhregister.com/government-and-politics/20161017/joshua-elliott-marjorie-bonadies-spar-for-sharkeys-seat" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>New Haven Register</em></a>. “When the middle class has to subsidize huge corporations like Wal-Mart that criminally underpay their workers, the narrative that we are overtaxed ought to be outed as ludicrous.”</p><p>Since taking office, Rep. Elliott has co-sponsored several bills aimed at narrowing our economic divide, including two that directly address the CEO pay problem.</p><p><a href="https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/TOB/h/pdf/2017HB-06373-R00-HB.pdf" rel="noopener noreferrer">One of these bills</a> mirrors a Portland, Oregon law enacted last December that imposes a tax penalty on publicly traded corporations with CEOs making more than 100 times their typical worker pay.</p><p>These laws don’t set a ceiling on how much corporations can pay their executives. But they do provide an incentive to rein in excess CEO pay and lift up workers at the bottom end. They can also generate significant revenue for urgent needs like funding pre-school programs or fixing roads and bridges.</p><p>Legislators in Illinois, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and San Francisco are also considering CEO pay tax proposals.</p><p>Elliott’s <a href="https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/TOB/h/2017HB-06747-R00-HB.htm" rel="noopener noreferrer">other bill</a> would use the power of the public purse to reduce pay disparities. If enacted, companies with CEO-worker pay ratios of more than 100 to 1 wouldn’t qualify for state subsidies and grants.</p><p>That would help ensure taxpayer dollars are used wisely. Research has shown that narrower pay gaps make businesses more effective by boosting employee morale and reducing turnover rates.</p><p>Elliott pointed out that he’s able to go to the state capital in Hartford four times a week when the General Assembly is in session because he trusts his managers to do a good job running the market in his absence. “You need to have good employees to make money,” he told me.</p><p>While efforts to narrow CEO-worker pay gaps are spreading around the country, Republicans in Washington are working to undercut them.</p><p>How? By killing a federal disclosure law requiring corporations to report the gap between their CEO and median worker pay. This data, scheduled to become available in early 2018, would make the kinds of policies Elliott is promoting much easier to administer.</p><p>But overpaid CEOs — and their lobbyists — want to throw up as many obstacles as they can. The massive Financial CHOICE Act, which just passed a House committee, would eliminate the pay ratio disclosure regulation, along with loosening other regulations on big Wall Street banks. It could come up for a full House vote soon.</p><p>But as the debate shifts, Elliott is confident that bold proposals for change will eventually gain traction.</p><p>“The conservative narrative is that business owners are the job creators,” he told me. “But if the CEOs and owners of capital have unlimited potential for their own compensation, they’re just taking money away from their employees. And that’s a system that is simply unsustainable.”</p><p> </p> Wed, 10 May 2017 13:09:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, OtherWords 1076745 at https://www.alternet.org Economy Economy overpaid CEOs business economy business The Top 10 Resistance Victories in Trump's First 100 Days https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/resistance-victories-trumps-100-days <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1076091'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076091" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">New social movements are making their power felt in ways that would have been unimaginable before Trump took office.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/img_0507.jpg?itok=jY2G9kxl" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>President Donald Trump’s first 100 days will be remembered for the horror of his reckless bombings overseas, his attacks on immigrants, the environment, the Standing Rock Sioux, women, and people of color, and his penchant for choosing billionaires and Wall Street bankers as top officials. But this period will also go down in history for the remarkable popular resistance that has undermined many of Trump’s <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/analysis-trump-s-nowhere-half-his-presidential-pledges-n749781&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009624000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHZdzKMmTFiTQ1tWwRtqth1_Brisw" href="http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/analysis-trump-s-nowhere-half-his-presidential-pledges-n749781" target="_blank">stated goals</a> for the start of his term.</p><p>The true magnitude of this resistance is just starting to become clear. A full 25 percent of Americans, according to a <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/united-by-post-inauguration-marches-democratic-women-plan-to-step-up-activism/2017/02/01/373004e0-e766-11e6-80c2-30e57e57e05d_story.html?utm_term%3D.0c4148b5cfd0&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009624000&amp;usg=AFQjCNECuIRh5X_eIpzTQn_zi3OsSo62sQ" href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/united-by-post-inauguration-marches-democratic-women-plan-to-step-up-activism/2017/02/01/373004e0-e766-11e6-80c2-30e57e57e05d_story.html?utm_term=.0c4148b5cfd0" target="_blank"><em>Washington Post</em> poll</a>, say they plan on being “more politically active” this year, and they're already making their collective power felt in ways that none of us could have imagined just 100 days ago.</p><p>Here are 10 big wins that can teach us volumes about how to resist and succeed past Trump's first 100 days. </p><p><strong>1. The </strong><strong>Women’s March changed everything.</strong></p><p>The <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/02/07/this-is-what-we-learned-by-counting-the-womens-marches/?utm_term%3D.37c9bd1915c2&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009624000&amp;usg=AFQjCNElggIxhRG3n_M573BTBOIGYGFv7Q" href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/02/07/this-is-what-we-learned-by-counting-the-womens-marches/?utm_term=.37c9bd1915c2" target="_blank">4-5 million</a> people who took to the streets in <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.vox.com/2017/1/22/14350808/womens-marches-largest-demonstration-us-history-map&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009624000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHW6VSAgsGqDp8goXGA_W92vllCTg" href="http://www.vox.com/2017/1/22/14350808/womens-marches-largest-demonstration-us-history-map" target="_blank">over 600 cities</a> on January 21 <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.womensmarch.com/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009624000&amp;usg=AFQjCNErFGIOi7fHsT8RELV4S5d2XlbqvA" href="https://www.womensmarch.com/" target="_blank">gave confidence</a> to resistance efforts on multiple fronts, including on Capitol Hill.</p><p>“When we first got sworn in on January 3, a lot of the Democrats were saying that we had to give Trump's agenda a chance and confessed to being nervous about taking him on directly,” newly elected Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) told us. "After the inauguration and the Women's March, everyone was singing a completely different tune.” </p><p>Anti-misogyny activism got its latest boost near the end of the 100 days as Color of Change, Ultraviolet and others hastened the ouster of Trump ally and longtime Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.</p><p><strong>2. Airport rallies (and brave judges) postponed the Muslim ban.</strong></p><p>When Trump marked his first week in office with an executive order banning U.S. entry for immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries—and to all refugees from anywhere—national outrage quickly turned into spontaneous protests at airports across the country and at the White House.</p><p>The outpouring of support for refugees and immigrants provided the political backing for courageous federal judges in Hawaii, Washington, Maryland, and New York to stop both versions of the ban in their tracks. Beyond ensuring the ban's permanent elimination, the next step will require challenging the aggressive U.S. military policies that are creating the refugee crisis in the first place.</p><p><strong>3. Town hall rallies helped defeat Trumpcare.</strong></p><p>The Republican Freedom Caucus got most of the credit for bringing down the disastrous Trump-Ryan health care plan. But the tens of thousands of people who packed town hall meetings with their members of Congress in March strengthened the backbones of Democrats and kept moderate Republicans from going along with the Freedom Caucus' demands.</p><p>A key force behind the resistance was <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.indivisibleguide.com/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009624000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGqkEa5MRvD8z931D5OqjoEdzvhEQ" href="https://www.indivisibleguide.com/" target="_blank">Indivisible</a>, which mobilized its nearly <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://democracyjournal.org/arguments/from-congress-to-protest/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009624000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFBUGRAeTzWwwKgBksyvlgLbggx9Q" href="http://democracyjournal.org/arguments/from-congress-to-protest/" target="_blank">6,000 chapters</a> to protest at town halls from coast to coast. </p><p><strong>4. Tax marches threw a wrench in Trump’s tax plan.</strong></p><p>More than 100,000 people in <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://taxmarch.org/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009624000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGGjvz6oX7CabPbcvNrDlwKamvVPA" href="http://taxmarch.org/" target="_blank">200-plus communities</a> participated in tax marches on April 15. While rally speakers called for a broader fair tax agenda, the central demand of the events was the release of Trump’s tax returns. He is the first president in 40 years to refuse to make them public.</p><p>This big-tent message turned up the heat on politicians to join the demand for transparency, boosting the number of Republican lawmakers who have done so to <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/326585/republicans-who-call-for-trump-release-tax-returns/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009624000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEwAzbAmjrXBwffN9FBx8G0w65dUA" href="http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/326585/republicans-who-call-for-trump-release-tax-returns/" target="_blank">at least 20</a>. The <em>New York Times</em> has called the controversy over Trump's returns a “<a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/17/us/politics/tax-code-overhaul-trump.html&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009624000&amp;usg=AFQjCNE3YJQ54gTYFdO67EwpcYbiEu0yqQ" href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/17/us/politics/tax-code-overhaul-trump.html" target="_blank">central hurdle</a>” to the passage of Trump’s tax reform plan, which is a <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://inequality.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Republican-Tax-Giveaways-to-Wall-Street-April-11.pdf&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009624000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGYPCdWL17OC5AVf2goQRPlGIx0_A" href="http://inequality.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Republican-Tax-Giveaways-to-Wall-Street-April-11.pdf" target="_blank">huge giveaway</a> to wealthy individuals, big corporations and Wall Street banks.</p><p>Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who had earlier vowed to get a deal signed by August, <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://thehill.com/policy/finance/329159-mnuchin-tax-reform-before-august-highly-aggressive-to-not-realistic&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009624000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHQCs2c_W_F5m9dcv9rRrMGvmGURw" href="http://thehill.com/policy/finance/329159-mnuchin-tax-reform-before-august-highly-aggressive-to-not-realistic" target="_blank">admitted</a> after the marches that this is no longer realistic. </p><p><strong>5. The sanctuary cities movement is stronger and more inclusive than ever.</strong></p><p>Some of the most disturbing images of the first 100 days have been of Trump immigration agents rounding up immigrants for deportation. But there's a proud history of U.S. cities and towns providing sanctuary to undocumented immigrants, going back to the U.S. wars in Central America in the 1980s. While Trump has promised to remove federal funding for cities that refuse to cooperate with ICE, the sanctuary city movement is stronger and more inclusive than ever. Projects like <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/freedom-cities-campaign-resistance-through-progress-local-level&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009624000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFzjyqewDEO8Wu6Ya9_Od0-e-xbBw" href="https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/freedom-cities-campaign-resistance-through-progress-local-level" target="_blank">Freedom Cities</a> are working to expand protection to other vulnerable communities, like refugees and those facing Islamophobia. <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.lahuelga.com/home/%23header&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009624000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHPwATogRC_ZF0veNoZouYktsArTg" href="http://www.lahuelga.com/home/#header" target="_blank">Hundreds of sanctuary cities</a> have been joined by congregations, campuses, restaurants, and even some unions.</p><p>Trump's plan to shame these cities by producing a weekly list of undocumented immigrants charged with crimes was <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.theroot.com/ice-temporarily-suspends-its-weekly-list-meant-to-shame-1794237148&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009625000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHZkQjTPkzP7Q2Vgr_Pxl1IDNgjaA" href="http://www.theroot.com/ice-temporarily-suspends-its-weekly-list-meant-to-shame-1794237148" target="_blank">suspended</a> after only three reports, after cities and states complained of their inaccuracy. And leaders of sanctuary cities across Southern California have doubled down on their commitment to protect everyone in their communities, <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-sanctuary-cities-respond-to-ag-threats-20170327-story.html&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009625000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFnuD1k97ymkI0_hQg3jJE90TJd3g" href="http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-sanctuary-cities-respond-to-ag-threats-20170327-story.html" target="_blank">promising legal challenges</a> against Jeff Sessions' Department of Justice.</p><p><strong>6. The longtime progressive fight against corporate trade agreements paid off with the death of the TPP.</strong></p><p>For a quarter-century, a wide spectrum of social movements across the U.S. and the world have fought to defeat corporate-friendly trade deals and advance fair and responsible alternatives.</p><p>During the campaign, labor, environmental, family farm, food safety, and women’s groups <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.ips-dc.org/a-wake-up-call-for-trumps-trade-agenda/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009625000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFmxh_3tDW75RSb7Dpgz69zl46tfA" href="http://www.ips-dc.org/a-wake-up-call-for-trumps-trade-agenda/" target="_blank">united in opposition</a> to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, pressing candidate Trump (along with his rival, Hillary Clinton) to oppose the deal and condemn its blueprint, NAFTA. While it's clear that Trump's billionaire advisers are attempting to walk back their criticism, Trump ended U.S. participation in the TPP early in his first 100 days, a credit to progressives that set an important precedent. </p><p><strong>7. States and cities are stepping up climate action.</strong></p><p>In recent years, a number of cities and states have sped up the transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy, creating jobs while addressing climate change. Groups like <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://peoplesaction.org/2017/03/trumps-executive-order-on-climate-is-life-threatening/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009625000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHy8T6o_2dOS6YCNJoqqAloUftg-w" href="https://peoplesaction.org/2017/03/trumps-executive-order-on-climate-is-life-threatening/" target="_blank">People’s Action</a> and their affiliates have brought poor people and communities of color into these plans, making sure that renewable energy doesn't remain an option for the privileged alone.</p><p>In the face of Trump’s attempts to kill Obama’s signature climate change policy, the Clean Power Plan, several cities and states, including California and New York, have committed to sticking to their transition goals, despite the lack of federal support.</p><p>And the momentum is growing. The Institute for Policy Studies just released <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.ips-dc.org/report-how-states-can-boost-renewables-with-benefits-for-all/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009625000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGt26aKAFVLq2FoFLpPmcKD5yQ6fQ" href="http://www.ips-dc.org/report-how-states-can-boost-renewables-with-benefits-for-all/" target="_blank">a new report</a> that serves as a blueprint for state legislation to expand solar access to low-income communities. The Science and People’s Climate marches will no doubt help keep up the pressure.</p><p><strong>8. A massive popular mobilization defeated an anti-labor CEO as labor secretary.</strong></p><p>With Republican control of the Senate, Trump’s cabinet picks sailed through the confirmation process—with one major exception. Labor nominee Andrew Puzder had to withdraw from the process on the eve of his hearing. The fast-food CEO favored robots over workers, bragged about his sexist ad campaigns, and was the target of numerous sexual harassment and wage theft claims.</p><p>A wide range of over 60 labor, women’s and food groups, including <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.ips-dc.org/heres-like-work-trumps-labor-secretary-nominee/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009625000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFe_FfzZ8sfDF2U6pH-kkmxXsLdpA" href="http://www.ips-dc.org/heres-like-work-trumps-labor-secretary-nominee/" target="_blank">IPS</a>, <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.jwj.org/tag/andrew-puzder&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009625000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHtR4bEix2ynSzTnN1eAm6WMJ361w" href="http://www.jwj.org/tag/andrew-puzder" target="_blank">Jobs with Justice</a>, the <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.nelp.org/publication/on-the-nomination-of-andrew-puzder-for-u-s-secretary-of-labor/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009625000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGlqLER2tqYSoI40bC-O2E3hAu3YQ" href="http://www.nelp.org/publication/on-the-nomination-of-andrew-puzder-for-u-s-secretary-of-labor/" target="_blank">National Employment Law Project</a>, and <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://rocunited.org/2017/01/new-report-labor-secretary-nominee-andrew-puzders-employees-report-high-rates-wage-hour-violations-age-discrimination-sexual-harassment/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009625000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEG1yF0LlezNOsUCuDaY-ODtaEy_Q" href="http://rocunited.org/2017/01/new-report-labor-secretary-nominee-andrew-puzders-employees-report-high-rates-wage-hour-violations-age-discrimination-sexual-harassment/" target="_blank">Restaurant Opportunities Centers United</a>, turned Puzder toxic through creative direct action and a steady stream of harsh media coverage that included the voices of Puzder’s own workers.</p><p><strong>9. Racial and criminal justice are gaining momentum.</strong></p><p><a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://policy.m4bl.org/platform/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009625000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGNKIsTX5lvGZi2lPx_eQc5s-0Wmw" href="https://policy.m4bl.org/platform/" target="_blank">Movements</a> for black lives continue to spread and diversify their <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2017/02/black-lives-matter-versus-trump&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009625000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGhWPFk4BD_KH685uKxjtHiYq7FBQ" href="http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2017/02/black-lives-matter-versus-trump" target="_blank">agendas</a> in the face of Trump's condemnation of the Black Lives Matter movement, which raised powerful critiques of America's racist criminal justice system. As Yale Law professor <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/25/opinion/sunday/justice-springs-eternal.html?_r%3D0&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009625000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFTvD7JPY076qGIRsgwF4eicbpNRQ" href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/25/opinion/sunday/justice-springs-eternal.html?_r=0" target="_blank">James Forman Jr.</a> wrote in the <em>New York Times</em> in March: “The movement to reduce the prison population and make our criminal justice system more humane is not in retreat. In fact, it is stronger than ever.”</p><p>While Trump and Attorney General Sessions have painted racist pictures of American "inner cities" ravaged by gangs and murders and promised to "send in the feds," Forman reminds us that most crime policy is set at the state and local levels. And at those levels, a <em>de</em>-carceration movement led by formerly incarcerated people helped spark successful November ballot initiatives on sentencing, bail, parole, and other reforms in states from New Mexico to Oklahoma to California.</p><p>Notably, Trump has been silent in his first 100 days on his promise to pursue a “<a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://citizensfortrump.com/2016/11/06/guide-presidentially-challenged-voters/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009625000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFm6s3Nfh1j-vCIYVaE-e0mRYJNng" href="http://citizensfortrump.com/2016/11/06/guide-presidentially-challenged-voters/" target="_blank">Restoring Community Safety Act</a>,” which would have ramped up federal resources to put more people in jail. Meanwhile, <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://swampland.time.com/2012/04/09/alec-what-it-does-and-why-three-major-corporations-cut-ties/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009625000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFXUPngvHgHDE0Xem4pEaAQEflCzA" href="http://swampland.time.com/2012/04/09/alec-what-it-does-and-why-three-major-corporations-cut-ties/" target="_blank">black-led organizations</a> have successfully pressed companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi to drop their support of right-wing legislative groups.</p><p><strong>10. New heroes and new action centers abound.</strong></p><p>Who would have thought that lawyers and judges, starting with the first Muslim ban order, would stand up, often taking to the streets, and be counted? Many members of the media, vilified by Trump, have stood up to the bullying, and the public has responded, with subscriptions to news sources up substantially.</p><p>And don't forget scientists: the Science March may have been the first time they have protested in a mass fashion.</p><p>Dozens of new organizations from Indivisible to <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://grabyourwallet.org/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009625000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFswysc89ojEwO8v8Pvngquomyqkw" href="https://grabyourwallet.org/" target="_blank">#grabyourwallet</a> to Bernie’s <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://ourrevolution.com/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1493302009625000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFBPtB9yCm98xry9a_p_mpIrtPsOg" href="https://ourrevolution.com/" target="_blank">Our Revolution</a>, have pulled millions of people into action and empowered thousands of new people to run for office. The challenge for the next 100 days is to turn all this people power into a lasting progressive infrastructure that can propel new local and state victories while continuing to thwart Trump’s dangerous national and global agenda.</p><p><em>Click to enlarge:</em></p><p><a href="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/story_images/top_10_resistance_1.png" target="_blank"><div alt="" class="media-image" height="1650" style="width: 600px; height: 776px;" width="1275"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="1650" style="width: 600px; height: 776px;" width="1275" typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/story_images/top_10_resistance_1.png" /></div></a></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1076091'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076091" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 12:42:00 -0700 John Cavanagh, Sarah Anderson, Domenica Ghanem, AlterNet 1076091 at https://www.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics first 100 days donald trump resistance activism resistance victories alternet_originals Tax Day Marches Aim Spotlight at Trumps Hidden Tax Returns https://www.alternet.org/activism/tax-day-marches-aim-spotlight-trumps-hidden-tax-returns <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Marches across the country will demand the release of Trump’s tax returns—and send a message about a tax system that enriches the wealthy.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_564942676.jpg?itok=msOqV_IG" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Candidate Trump repeatedly promised to release his past tax returns, once they were no longer being audited. But those promises have failed to materialize, and Trump appears to have no plans to release his 2016 returns either. This makes him the first president in 40 years to conceal this information from the public.</p><p><strong>A broad coalition</strong> of groups has come together to offer an opportunity for people to vent their anger over Trump’s tax secrecy. On April 15 (Tax Day), they’ve organized marches in 48 states and even a few non-U.S. cities like London and Tokyo to demand that he release his tax returns. (See full list of actions at <a href="http://www.taxmarch.org/">www.taxmarch.org</a>).</p><p>The largest event will be in Trump’s back yard in Washington, D.C., where several Democratic leaders, including Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden and House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters, will speak, along with a slate of faith, consumer, labor, and other leaders.</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image"><img alt="" class="media-image" typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/lisa-gilbert2.jpg?itok=se-XZeVG" /></div><p><em>Lisa Gilbert, Vice President of Legislative Affairs at Public Citizen</em></p><p><strong>Lisa Gilbert will</strong> be one of the activist leaders on the podium. A longtime economic justice and democracy campaigner, she now heads up the legislative affairs work at Public Citizen. For her, the goal of the tax marches goes beyond Trump’s tax returns.</p><p>“Taxes can seem kinda wonky. But I’m hoping this leads to a broader discussion of how our tax code works and the fact that it’s not working for all of us,” Gilbert said in an interview with Inequality.org. “That message is really baked into the march.”</p><div alt="" class="media-image"><img alt="" class="media-image" typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/delvone-216x300.jpg?itok=jTb8sarb" /></div><em>Delvone Michael, of the Working Families Party, sits on the Tax March Executive Committee</em><p><strong>Delvone Michael,</strong> a Senior Political Strategist for the National Working Families Party who sits on the Tax March Executive Committee, echoed Gilbert’s desire for a broader impact. “Transparency is only one of the many reasons we are calling on Trump to release his tax returns,” Michael told Inequality.org. “It’s true that Americans want to know about his conflicts of interest, and foreign entanglements, but it’s equally true that we want to ensure he is pursuing tax policies that will benefit everyday Americans and not simply enriching his wealthy friends, family, and campaign donors.”</p><p>The ongoing congressional and criminal investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election add urgency to the demands for the tax return release. The public has an interest in better understanding Trump’s financial ties to Russia and other countries where he has business entanglements.</p><p><strong>The hot battle</strong> over tax reform also makes these marches especially timely. If Trump manages to push through his proposals, wealthy Americans like himself would get a tax cut of $1 million every year, while someone making $50,000 would get a tax cut of just $1 a day.</p><p>Both Michael and Gilbert are heartened by the growing strength of the resistance. Public Citizen has seen a dramatic uptick in engagement of their 400,000 members and supporters. “People are going beyond online activism. They’re showing up in person now — and asking for more opportunities to take real action.”</p><p>Gilbert also hopes that participants in the march will be politically diverse. “The demand for ethical, transparent government is not confined to any party,” Gilbert noted, pointing to a recent ABC News/<em>Washington Post</em> poll which found that nearly three-fourths of Americans <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/page/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2017/01/16/National-Politics/Polling/question_18449.xml?uuid=YaxgCtwnEeaJAmEP5IZ5HA">say Trump should release his tax returns</a> – including a majority of Republicans.</p><p><strong>“America stronger</strong> is everybody has a chance to succeed,” Gilbert continued. “But our unfair tax code marginalizes people who are already struggling.”</p><p> </p> Fri, 07 Apr 2017 11:57:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, Inequality.org 1075163 at https://www.alternet.org Activism Activism News & Politics donald trump Tax March Going After the Opioid Profiteers https://www.alternet.org/drugs/going-after-opioid-profiteers <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A small number of drug companies reap windfalls from people&#039;s pill addictions. Now, working people are holding them accountable.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_355085264.jpg?itok=nqrDc4Be" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Travis Bornstein never told his friends about his son Tyler’s drug problem. He was too embarrassed.</p><p>Then, on September 28, 2014, Tyler’s body was found in a vacant lot in Akron, Ohio. The 23-year-old had become addicted to opioid pain killers after several sports-related injuries and surgeries. Unable to afford long-term treatment, he ultimately turned to a cheaper drug — the heroin that killed him.</p><p>“Now I have no choice but to speak out,” the elder Bornstein, president of Teamsters Local 24 in Akron, told a crowd of thousands at the union’s convention in 2016. As he shared the unvarnished tale of how a middle-class, star athlete wound up in that vacant lot, Bornstein lit a fire under the 1.4-million-member organization.</p><p>The Teamsters pledged $1.4 million for a nonprofit organization the Bornstein family set up to expand treatment for addicts in Ohio. They’re also going after the drug industry CEOs who’ve been profiting off a national opioid problem of epidemic proportions.</p><p>According to the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/">Centers for Disease Control</a>, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription drugs and heroin) has quadrupled since 1999. In 2015, opioid deaths in the United States hit a record-breaking 33,000.</p><p>The labor union is targeting the three largest U.S. prescription drug wholesalers — McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen — for flooding hard-hit areas with the highly addictive pills.</p><p>Between 2008 and 2012, for example, these companies shipped 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone opioid doses to West Virginia — 433 for every man, woman, and child in the state. During that time period, 1,728 people in the state overdosed on the painkillers.</p><p>The companies deny any wrongdoing, pointing the finger instead at corrupt doctors and pharmacists who sell pills directly to addicts and dealers. But as West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin recently told the <a href="http://www.wvgazettemail.com/news-cops-and-courts/20170109/2-drug-distributors-to-pay-36m-to-settle-wv-painkiller-lawsuits"><em>Charleston Gazette-Mail</em></a>, “Obviously, they had to know, with a state this size, and that many pills coming in, that something wasn’t right.”</p><p>The Teamsters are using their clout as pension fund investors to demand that drug wholesalers take responsibility for their role in the epidemic, conduct full investigations of their distribution practices, and hold CEOs accountable.</p><p>At AmerisourceBergen, for example, CEO Steven Collis hasn’t coughed up a penny of the tens of millions of dollars he pocketed as the firm was reaping opioid windfalls — even though the company has paid $16 million to settle a West Virginia case over their negligence.</p><p>The Teamsters are demanding that some of the CEO’s pay be “clawed back,” in the same way that Wells Fargo executives involved in last year’s bogus account scandal had to forfeit some of their compensation.</p><p>They’ve made similar demands on McKesson, where CEO John Hammergren’s compensation has amounted to an astounding $368 million over the past five years.</p><p>Part of the problem with accountability at McKesson, according to the Teamsters, is the fact that Hammergren serves as both CEO and chairman of the company. The union is filing a shareholder resolution urging the board to appoint an independent chair.</p><p>Meanwhile, Travis Bornstein is continuing to speak out, telling his son Tyler’s tragic story to students, policymakers, and others as he works to expand the availability of drug treatment for communities ravaged by the opioid crisis.</p><p>Since Tyler’s death, he’s learned that opioid addiction isn’t a moral failure, but rather a disease, like cancer or diabetes. “Now my son is my hero for everything he was able to accomplish with such a gut-wrenching disease,” Bornstein said. “I was the fool.”</p> Thu, 16 Mar 2017 12:28:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, OtherWords 1073905 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs drugs opioids drug companies big pharma 4 Wall Street Bonus Charts That May Make You Scream https://www.alternet.org/economy/wall-street-bonuses-make-you-scream <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1073930'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1073930" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The culture that led to the 2008 financial crisis continues to flourish. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_189611477-edited.jpg?itok=vVNzoPaR" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p dir="ltr">Every year, the New York Comptroller releases a big number representing the combined value of the bonuses Wall Street banks have doled out to their employees. The state government keeps track of these payouts because a really big number boosts their local tax base. And this year’s number, released March 15, is indeed gigantic: $23.9 billion.</p><p dir="ltr">But imagine if those huge sums were channeled instead into the pockets of low-wage workers. The economy would get a much bigger bang for the buck because the poor tend to spend nearly every dollar they earn, creating beneficial economic ripple effects. The wealthy, by contrast, can afford to squirrel away more of their earnings. And so while the Wall Street bonus season may coincide with an uptick in luxury goods sales, a minimum wage hike would give America’s economy a much greater boost.</p><p dir="ltr">A new <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/report-wall-street-bonus-pool-2017/">Institute for Policy Studies report</a> includes four dramatic charts that reveal how the increase in Wall Street bonuses has far outpaced the rise in the federal minimum wage — and how this in turn has contributed to race and gender inequality.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Wall Street Bonuses v. Minimum Wage Earners</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Wall Street banks doled out $23.9 billion in bonuses to their 177,000 New York-based employees, which amounts to 1.6 times the combined earnings of all 1,075,000 Americans who work full-time at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.</p><p dir="ltr"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/bk8kJ1imtm5_MjhrVS2zD4sTuVPnsbMAuqxS4-W2TazOudyGJLvNqIx2gqF60T5W3GO7GaOSWLGS7ppZWgnBpay7dZiCI7Rt4Y_CyjtAQX9ghh9XP6jp0d6ipPY4VrHIGycgXTfggpUwhAcGCA" style="height: 229px; width: 400px;" /></p><p dir="ltr">The average Wall Street bonus increased by just 1 percent last year. But the nominal value of the average bonus has grown by 890 percent since 1985, from $13,970 to $138,210. Meanwhile, the minimum wage has risen only 116 percent, from $3.35 per hour to $7.25. Adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage was nearly 3 percent lower in 2016 than in 1985, whereas the average bonus was about 343 percent higher.</p><p dir="ltr"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/2JwypeTT-SlfB6ks2kbbqK1_tFVehx_oHlU5z8OdCKpPjKR3TwFh_C7GFdi26-f7qtlgcJ_1BvyoRhkroYNVr5hNv2uaQ5sMW_3hrQBXXNhcyRGAUE5SbIGZf49RSz5CiWRAicHT1-sPbV8YEw" style="height: 233px; width: 400px;" /></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The Race and Gender Divide</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Over the past three decades, the dramatic rise in average financial industry bonuses relative to the minimum wage has contributed to racial and gender inequality. Workers at the bottom of the national wage scale are predominantly people of color and female, whereas those in Wall Street’s upper echelons are overwhelmingly white and male.</p><p dir="ltr">At the top five U.S. investment banks (JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and Citigroup), the share of executives and top managers who are white ranges from 84 to 87 percent and the share who are male ranges from 66 to 84 percent, according to the firms’ own reports (see sources section). By contrast, only 44 percent of minimum wage workers are white and an even smaller share, just 37 percent, are male.<img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/wjAeTFVB5-pXA20zse6r1vBR9LsgT7QYU_5w6Kd10lvu9De5w87m4yIj4AvuvwQm5H9FXLVf8WUDIWUY98gkmiGSdJiI2-Y5ZvFMfK9CnyqqDZgg5OuxEmqIe4FF3hscvg_SuxIB8ETdI7G7AA" style="height: 268px; width: 400px;" /></p><p dir="ltr">For Wall Street employees, annual bonuses come as an extra reward on top of their base salaries, which averaged <a href="https://www.osc.state.ny.us/osdc/rpt8-2017.pdf">$388,000</a> in 2015, the most recent year for which data are available. According to the New York State Comptroller, this is five times higher than the average salary for other New York City private sector employees.</p><p dir="ltr">On top of their cash salary and bonuses, top Wall Street executives also typically receive massive stock options and grants, most of which are deemed fully deductible “performance-based” pay and thus fully tax-deductible for the firm. According to a 2016 <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/executive-excess-2016-wall-street-ceo-bonus-loophole/">Institute for Policy Studies report</a>, the top 20 U.S. banks paid out more than $2 billion in fully deductible performance pay to their top five executives between 2012 and 2015. At a 35 percent corporate tax rate, this translates into a tax break of more than $725 million, or $1.7 million per executive per year.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Wall Street Bonuses v. Low-Wage Service Workers</strong></p><p dir="ltr">While living wage campaigns have been successful in many cities, <a href="https://www.oxfamamerica.org/static/media/files/Few_Rewards_Report_2016_web.pdf">Oxfam and the Economic Policy Institute</a> report that 44 percent of U.S. workers still earn less than $15 per hour. This is the wage level needed to cover basic living costs in most areas of the country, according to the <a href="http://www.nelp.org/publication/growing-movement-15/">National Employment Law Project</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">The Wall Street bonus pool was large enough in 2016 to have lifted all of America’s 3.2 million fast food prep and serving workers up to $15 per hour — and still have had $776 million left over. Or that bonus pool could have raised to $15 the hourly wage of all our nation’s 1.7 million home care aides or all of our 3.1 million restaurant servers and bartenders.</p><p dir="ltr"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/xSIJX64z6UeNsbxV3qtToV-8iYrYywy5Df09HEZlL-u-VDBN67BavnW1mGI0x6MJ-t03jFG9zv3JbUaOPZo9nVF3jF5V44t9Xkq05e3YYOhHHu_L0nXQlQspI9zQssjZBr9XwrVUZL6-JeB9VQ" style="height: 240px; width: 400px;" /></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Wall Street Bonus Reform Long Overdue</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Huge Wall Street bonus payouts also encourage the sorts of high-risk behaviors that led to the 2008 financial crisis. And yet financial regulators have still not implemented a Wall Street bonus reform law that has been on the books for nearly seven years. Section 956 of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation prohibits financial industry pay packages that encourage “inappropriate risks.” Regulators were supposed to implement this new rule within nine months of the law’s passage.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2011, regulators issued a <a href="http://fortunedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/34-64140.pdf">proposed rule</a> that did not go far enough to prevent the type of behavior that led to the 2008 crash. As spelled out in detail in Institute for Policy Studies <a href="https://www.sec.gov/comments/s7-07-16/s70716-35.pdf">comments to the SEC</a>, the proposed rule falls short in several areas, including overly lenient bonus deferrals, weak stock-based pay restrictions, and enforcement proposals that leave too much discretion to bank managers.</p><p dir="ltr">While regulators responded to criticism by agreeing to issue a new proposal, this work was not completed before the end of the Obama administration. And now with Republican control of both Congress and the White House, there is a strong chance it will be postponed indefinitely. House Republican leadership <a href="http://financialservices.house.gov/uploadedfiles/financial_choice_act_comprehensive_outline.pdf">introduced a bill</a> in the last session to repeal most of the Dodd-Frank reform package, including the Wall Street pay provision. President Donald Trump has also vowed to “<a href="http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/30/investing/dodd-frank-trump-regulation-banks/">do a big number</a>” on the landmark financial reform legislation.</p><p dir="ltr">In the meantime, the Wall Street bonus culture that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis continues to flourish.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1073930'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1073930" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 16 Mar 2017 07:22:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, AlterNet 1073930 at https://www.alternet.org Economy Economy Labor wall street ceos financial industry bonuses economy Washington's Most Beleaguered Workers Earn a Long-Overdue Break https://www.alternet.org/labor/washingtons-most-beleaguered-workers-earn-long-overdue-break <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A new law guarantees paid time off for new parents, the sick and their relatives to care for them.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_553555162.jpg?itok=ZASTwjc4" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Getting time off when you’re sick, or need to care for a new child or ailing parent, shouldn’t be a luxury enjoyed only by those who are financially well off. Yet low-wage workers in the United States — the workers who need paid leave the most — typically have this key benefit denied them.</p><p>But not anymore in Washington, D.C.</p><p>Activists in the city recently overcame stiff opposition from corporate lobbyists to win one of the country’s most generous paid-leave policies. The new law guarantees eight weeks of paid time off for new parents, six weeks for those caring for sick family members, and two weeks of personal sick time.</p><p>One key to this victory: outspoken support from small business leaders like Ethel Taylor, owner of a local pet-grooming parlor called the Doggie Washerette.</p><p>Taylor first became involved in the paid-leave struggle when she met an activist with the Main Street Alliance, who was going door-to-door down D.C.’s Georgia Avenue talking to business leaders about the paid-leave plan the group was backing.</p><p>The plan’s novel mechanism for funding paid-leave benefits particularly impressed Taylor. The D.C. law will use a “social insurance model” funded through a 0.62 percent payroll tax on all private-sector employers, so none of them will have to pay the full cost of employees’ sick time.</p><p>“I would’ve been gone tomorrow if I’d had to pay out of pocket for the cost of an employee’s leave time,” Taylor told me.</p><p>The compensation employees will receive under the new D.C. law significantly improves upon leave policies in other jurisdictions. The District government will reimburse employees for 90 percent of their first $900 in weekly pay and 50 percent of their remaining weekly pay, with a limit of $1,000 per week.</p><p>By comparison, private sector employees in California can receive only up to 55 percent of their wages.</p><p>Taylor has in the past taken her beautifully groomed standard poodle Joy to campaign events for candidates she supported. But the D.C. paid-leave drive has otherwise been her first encounter with political activism.</p><p>She had some special motivation. Taylor personally had to take a lot of unpaid time off after her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Under the D.C. law, business owners like Taylor can also tap into the paid-leave fund.</p><p>But Taylor’s commitment went beyond her own personal situation. “I’d always been active in my neighborhood of Shepherd Park. But when I opened the Doggie Washerette there five years ago, I felt a whole other level of responsibility to serve the public.”</p><p>Working with the Main Street Alliance, Taylor attended public meetings, penned <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/310664-dc-small-business-owner-pass-the-universal-paid-leave-act" target="_blank">a commentary</a> in support of the paid leave law, and did other media interviews. The new legislation, adopted on December 20, will cover everyone working in the District for a private sector employer, including the self-employed.</p><p>At the federal level, we can’t expect much action on family-friendly work policies in the near future. The man nominated to be the next Secretary of Labor, fast food CEO Andrew Puzder, is strongly opposed to paid leave policies.</p><p>But as Washington residents themselves proved, cities and states don’t need to wait for leaders in Washington to act. D.C.’s successful campaign for comprehensive paid leave offers important lessons for other communities — not least that small businesses and employees can be on the same side.</p> Wed, 11 Jan 2017 12:31:00 -0800 Sarah Anderson, Other Words 1070366 at https://www.alternet.org Labor Labor paid leave sickness washington D.C. New Labor Secretary: Cutthroat Businessman and Anti-Minimum Wage https://www.alternet.org/labor/new-labor-secretary-cutthroat-businessman-and-anti-minimum-wage <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1070317'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1070317" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Andrew Puzder wants to apply his fast food principles to federal policy.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/5984940947_91d93f574e_z_0.jpg?itok=DzMHV69F" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Roberto Ramirez worked for nearly 18 years for the Carl’s Jr. burger chain in Los Angeles. He started doing food prep and eventually took on three additional jobs: cleaning, cashiering and serving. Little did he know his experience would one day land him in the national political spotlight.</p><p>On January 10, Ramirez was a star witness in a sort of shadow hearing on Capitol Hill on the business practices of one Andrew Puzder, the fast-food king who is Donald Trump’s choice for Labor Secretary. Democratic senators <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.warren.senate.gov/?p%3Dpress_release%26id%3D1337&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1484187350143000&amp;usg=AFQjCNF88JLqnJYU-99_nfp96JKQWKHtIw" href="http://www.warren.senate.gov/?p=press_release&amp;id=1337" target="_blank">tried</a> to give Ramirez and others with experience working for Puzder’s Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains an even bigger platform, as witnesses in the nominee’s upcoming confirmation hearing. Republicans <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.warren.senate.gov/files/documents/2017-1-5_Alexander_Response.pdf&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1484187350143000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFDvr59tM4GKa14Gcevgx0WGbXJvw" href="http://www.warren.senate.gov/files/documents/2017-1-5_Alexander_Response.pdf" target="_blank">nixed</a> that request.</p><p>Originally from Guerrero, Mexico, Ramirez addressed about a dozen senators in Spanish, explaining through an interpreter how his workload at Carl’s Jr. eventually became so unmanageable he had to put in half an hour of free labor every day before his clock-in time to be able to finish all his duties. None of this overtime was ever compensated. Ramirez testified that a manager later stole one of his paychecks while he was away and the company refused to help him recover the compensation. When he complained about it, his manager retaliated by cutting his hours to the point where he had no choice but to quit.</p><div><p>Ramirez’s story was reinforced by a new Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://rocunited.org/2017/01/new-report-labor-secretary-nominee-andrew-puzders-employees-report-high-rates-wage-hour-violations-age-discrimination-sexual-harassment/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1484187350143000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGuFvM13WfE12lKRyzo6ClMZlMX8A" href="http://rocunited.org/2017/01/new-report-labor-secretary-nominee-andrew-puzders-employees-report-high-rates-wage-hour-violations-age-discrimination-sexual-harassment/" target="_blank">report</a>. Based on questionnaires filled out voluntarily by 564 Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s workers, the report found that 28 percent of respondents had to work off the clock without pay because of understaffing. Approximately one-third reported a wide range of wage theft violations, including not receiving required breaks or overtime pay.</p><p>A high percentage of workers reported experiencing sexual harassment on the job—66 percent, compared to 40 percent overall in the fast-food industry. This is hardly shocking, given the behavior of the company’s CEO. Puzder is notorious for boasting about his sexualized ad campaigns, including raunchy spots for a Bacon 3-Way Burger featuring oiled-up blondes in bikinis in a pseudo menage-a-trois and another with a model rubbing a piece of bacon across her breast.</p><p>One female employee told ROC that customers have asked her why she doesn’t dress like the women in the commercials. Several others charged that store managers either ignored employee complaints about harassment or were perpetrators themselves. </p><p>Seventy-nine percent of respondents said they’d prepared or served food while sick, the vast majority because they had no sick leave. Ramirez admitted he’d also worked while ill, and felt bad about handling meat, knowing he might be making someone else sick. Another Carl’s Jr. worker at the shadow hearing, Lupe Guzman from Las Vegas, said she also had to work when she was sick, and when her child was hospitalized, she had to show documentation proving it—not to get compensated, but to avoid being fired.</p><p>Andrew Puzder has made no secret of the fact that he would like to codify his cut-throat business approach in federal policy. He is opposed to regulations on overtime pay, paid leave, mandatory break times, and a minimum wage increase. In fact, he’s so hostile to his human employees he’s waxed rhapsodic about replacing them entirely with <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-labor-secretary-pick-andy-puzder-talked-about-replacing-workers-with-robots-2016-12-08&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1484187350144000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEhO4BbU1G9LzKiRuFVtIEv2m2A-A" href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-labor-secretary-pick-andy-puzder-talked-about-replacing-workers-with-robots-2016-12-08" target="_blank">robots</a>.</p><p>Of course, this hasn’t stopped Puzder from accepting generous perks for himself. The ROC report points out that this devout opponent of Obamacare and mandatory sick leave policies has enjoyed reimbursement checks of as much as $61,000 per year from his employer for medical costs that run above and beyond his health insurance benefits. By contrast, only 9 percent of Puzder’s non-managerial staff have access to any employer-provided health care. As CEO, Puzder’s total compensation has run as high as $10 million per year.</p><p>“We need fair pay and dignity at work,” said Roberto Ramirez, his voice cracking with emotion as he read his prepared testimony. “I’m afraid if Andrew Puzder is confirmed as Labor Secretary, what happened to me will happen to workers across the country.”</p></div><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ca1bvcCt8Pc" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1070317'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1070317" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 10 Jan 2017 18:15:00 -0800 Sarah Anderson, AlterNet 1070317 at https://www.alternet.org Labor Labor labor Puzder trump 100 CEOs Have as Much Retirement Wealth as 41% of American Families https://www.alternet.org/labor/100-ceos-have-much-retirement-wealth-41-american-families <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1068893'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068893" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Everyone should be able to enjoy their golden years—not just former CEOs and presidents.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_215115697-edited.jpg?itok=wT9OeMCB" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>As President Obama prepares to ride off into the sunset, among the perks he can look forward to is a presidential pension. Every month for the rest of his life, he’ll receive a retirement check for about $17,142 — not bad for a guy with at least a few black hairs remaining on his head.  </p><p>And yet this sum is paltry compared to the retirement assets enjoyed by most big company CEOs, including some whose nest eggs were feathered by taxpayer dollars. </p><p>Take, for example, Michael Neidorff, the CEO of Centene, which manages health plans for Medicaid recipients and other poor Americans. Since Obamacare began expanding health coverage in 2010, Neidorff’s company retirement account has grown 658 percent, to nearly $140 million. That’s enough to generate a monthly check of $744,000—43 times as much as Obama’s. </p><p>If you think that’s a big gap, consider the retirement divide between top business leaders and working families. A new <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.ips-dc.org/report-tale-two-retirements/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1481907349136000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGP7SLf0jsCOZ5O8IrvB2X6teMOVQ" href="http://www.ips-dc.org/report-tale-two-retirements/" target="_blank">report</a> I co-authored for the Institute for Policy Studies finds that in 2015, the 100 CEOs with the largest nest eggs had $4.7 billion in their combined company accounts. That’s as much as the entire retirement savings of the 41 percent of American families with the smallest nest eggs. </p><p>Compared to African Americans and Latinos, the gap is even wider. These 100 CEOs’ retirement savings are equal to those of 59 percent of African-American families and a whopping 75 percent of Latino families.</p><p>According to the Economic Policy Institute, <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.epi.org/publication/retirement-in-america/%23chart1&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1481907349136000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEC-JyA0JdM63qbZDF-dT62TF39OA" href="http://www.epi.org/publication/retirement-in-america/#chart1" target="_blank">39 percent</a> of workers nearing retirement age (56 to 61 years old) have no retirement account savings whatsoever. That means they’re likely to be entirely dependent on Social Security, which currently pays an average benefit of just $1,239 per month. </p><p>This grim picture will become even grimmer if Republicans manage to push through their new plan to overhaul Social Security. Introduced last week, <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.ssa.gov/oact/solvency/SJohnson_20161208.pdf&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1481907349136000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEaCQJC8ncCRZvqPppr9c3IQo2tZw" href="https://www.ssa.gov/oact/solvency/SJohnson_20161208.pdf" target="_blank">the plan</a> would cut benefits for all but the lowest earners by 17 percent to 43 percent by the year 2080, and hike the retirement age to 69 by 2030.</p><p>In the richest country in the world, why do so many millions of working people have to worry about paying their bills in their golden years? </p><p>One major factor is the demise of the traditional pension. While feathering their own nests, CEOs have stripped employees of plans that guarantee a monthly check. Instead, if ordinary workers get any retirement benefits at all, they tend to be the much less generous and riskier 401(k)-type plans. As of 2013, only about half of private sector workers had a 401(k) and the average account balance was just <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.ebri.org/pdf/briefspdf/EBRI_IB_408_Dec14.401(k)-update.pdf&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1481907349136000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGBLqNhClXPzB9XxOX8sp12OytGKA" href="https://www.ebri.org/pdf/briefspdf/EBRI_IB_408_Dec14.401(k)-update.pdf" target="_blank">$18,433</a>. </p><p>The drug wholesaler McKesson is one example of this trend. In 1997, it froze its employee pension fund, but continued to offer executives lavish benefits. CEO John Hammergren has amassed $147 million in his own company retirement funds over the past 20 years. General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt closed the employee pension in 2010 and replaced it with a 401(k) scheme. Meanwhile, his company retirement account has ballooned to $92 million. </p><p>CEOs actually have a powerful personal incentive for reducing worker retirement benefits. More than half of executive compensation is now tied to the company’s stock price, so boosting short-term profits through cost-cutting is a way to pad their own pockets.</p><p>Rather than pushing a reform that will only increase retirement inequality, policymakers should be focused on ensuring a dignified life for all seniors. And to achieve that, CEOs and other wealthy Americans will need to pay their fair share. </p><p>One way to generate some revenue to expand Social Security would be to ban the special tax-deferred retirement accounts most Fortune 500 companies set up for their top executives. While ordinary workers have strict limits on how much they can put in 401(k) plans every year ($24,000 max for older workers), CEOs are allowed to shelter unlimited amounts from the IRS in these accounts. Our report finds that Fortune 500 CEOs have nearly $3 billion stashed in such deferred plans. </p><p>Much larger sums could be raised by lifting the cap on Social Security payroll contributions, which is currently set at $118,500 per year. Almost all other American workers have to chip in a share of all of their earned income. Why should it be any different for CEOs?</p><p>We’ve heard a great deal this election year about rising economic anxiety in communities that have lost jobs which were once a source of decent pay and retirement benefits. Now it’s time to do something about it. Everyone should be able to enjoy their golden years—not just former CEOs and presidents.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1068893'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068893" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 16 Dec 2016 09:43:00 -0800 Sarah Anderson, AlterNet 1068893 at https://www.alternet.org Labor Economy Labor the 1% ceos social security retirement labor Bipartisan Unity in a Deep Red State https://www.alternet.org/economy/south-dakota-bipartisan-unity <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A politically diverse coalition fighting predatory lenders in South Dakota offers hope for all of us in a divisive time.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/3407536913_548e2c17ff_o.jpg?itok=MBZU8afO" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>A couple years ago, two South Dakota men on opposite ends of the political spectrum got into a nasty fight over marriage equality. But after one offered the other an olive branch, they wound up forming a bipartisan alliance that won big this election year.</p><p>Their story offers important lessons for our divided country.</p><p>It all began with a Twitter feud between Steve Hildebrand, a gay former Obama campaign adviser, and Steve Hickey, a conservative pastor and former Republican state legislator. To defuse the tension, Hickey decided to invite Hildebrand out for coffee.</p><p>Eventually, the two men realized they had something in common: a deep concern about poverty and homelessness. They also agreed that the payday loan industry in their state was making these problems much worse.</p><p>Payday lenders give customers short-term cash advances, typically for two weeks, against their paycheck or Social Security check. But most borrowers can’t pay back the loan when it comes due — which is exactly what the lenders want.</p><p>(Photo: americans4financialreform / Flickr)</p><p>According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the majority of all payday loans are renewed so many times that borrowers end up paying more in fees than they originally borrowed. In South Dakota, the average interest rate on such short-term loans is <a href="http://www.ksfy.com/content/news/South-Dakota-voters-approve-interest-rate-cap-on-payday-loans-400489561.html" target="_blank">574 percent</a>.</p><p>In a show of bipartisan unity, Hickey and Hildebrand resolved to work together to crack down on these loan sharks. They formed a coalition, South Dakotans for Responsible Lending, to take the issue of predatory lending directly to the voters. Their goal: a 36 percent interest rate cap on short-term payday loans.</p><p>The coalition’s first step was to marshal a volunteer army of all ages, income levels, and political stripes to collect almost 20,000 signatures to get the proposal on the ballot. To build support, they held prayer vigils, gave talks at churches and Rotary and Lions clubs, and wrote letters to the editors of newspapers across the state. For Halloween, they painted pumpkins with their campaign slogans.</p><p>On November 8, despite being outspent 16 to 1 by industry opponents, the coalition won a crushing victory. More than three-quarters of South Dakota voters supported the rate cap measure.</p><p>Reflecting on their success, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/southdakotansforresponsiblelending/posts/1819044205030067" target="_blank">Pastor Hickey said</a>, “Knowing that today in America we have reached perhaps the apex of hyper-partisanship, our efforts here of working together across the party lines is really a breath of fresh air, and we believe this is the way forward.”</p><p>Hickey also made clear that the coalition’s fight isn’t over. They’re worried the loan sharks may pursue new legal tricks to keep exploiting the poor, and they’re looking for ways to make credit more affordable for low-income South Dakotans. One option they’re looking into is using a fraction of the state’s reserves to guarantee affordable loans through credit unions.</p><p>But even though there’s more work to be done, this coalition’s bipartisan ballot box success is an inspiring example of how we can still make progress in our polarized nation.</p><p> </p> Wed, 23 Nov 2016 11:02:00 -0800 Sarah Anderson, OtherWords 1067732 at https://www.alternet.org Economy Economy predatory lending banks predatory loans south dakota economy bipartisan Successful Initiatives to Help Address Inequality https://www.alternet.org/election-2016/progress-ballot-voters-pushed-through-key-initiatives-fight-inequality <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1066894'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1066894" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Voters in many states, including red ones, approved proposals that will reduce our economic divide.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_284974907.jpg?itok=Uk7xHx6A" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The electoral college has spoken, and the White House as well as Congress are firmly in the hands of the Republican Party, with Donald Trump at their helm.</p><p>Not all election news was terrifying, however. Voters in several states, including some red ones, cast votes for ballot initiatives that will fight inequality. While not all were successful, the ballot initiative fights offer some important lessons that should be carefully analyzed as we dust ourselves off and prepare for the fights to come.</p><p>The most encouraging news is that minimum wage increases won big time, including in deep-red Arizona, and efforts to increase tax fairness in California won handily. Here’s how the key inequality-related ballot initiatives we were tracking turned out.</p><p><strong>1. Minimum wage increases (Maine, Colorado, Arizona, Washington).</strong></p><p>Just as in 2014, minimum wage increases won everywhere they were on the ballot. Colorado, Maine, and Arizona will increase the state minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. In Washington, it will rise to $13.50. In Maine and also in the city of Flagstaff, Arizona, wage hikes will include a phasing out of the subminimum wage for restaurant servers and other tipped workers. The Arizona and Washington initiatives also included earned sick leave protections. In South Dakota, living wage advocates won a defensive battle against an initiative that would’ve lowered the state minimum wage for workers under 18 years old.</p><p><strong>2. Protection against predatory lending (South Dakota).</strong></p><p>South Dakota also offers a very encouraging story on the issue of payday loan sharks. While Donald Trump took 62 percent of the vote in that state, a bipartisan coalition with strong support from the faith community managed to crush industry opposition to an initiative aimed at reining in predatory lending. A measure to set a 36 percent cap on short-term payday loan interest rates, which currently average around 600 percent in the state, garnered an astounding 76 percent support, despite being outspent by industry groups by 16 to 1.</p><p><strong>3. Tax increases on the wealthy and corporations (California, Oregon, Maine).</strong></p><p>Californians scored a big win against inequality by voting to extend the highest tax rate in the country on the wealthy. By extending their 13.3 percent rate on those making more than $1 million per year, the state will reap $4 billion to $9 billion in annual revenue for human needs. The measure previously passed in 2012, but was set to sunset. Conservative claims that such a high tax on the wealthiest residents would tank the economy were disproved by the past four years of steady growth in the state. The new initiative will remain in place for 12 years, ensuring that California will continue to be a leader in tax fairness.</p><p>In Maine, an initiative to add a 3 percent surtax on income over $200,000 was still too close to call as of 1pm Eastern. If adopted, revenue would fund education in the state, closing the gap between rich and poor school districts as well as the gap between rich and poor families.</p><p>Oregon suffered a loss on Measure 97, an initiative to raise corporate tax rates on large and profitable corporations in the state. The Beaver state will maintain the lowest corporate tax rates in the country, and the education, health care, and senior services that would have been funded by the measure will remain under-resourced.</p><p><strong>4. Limits on corporate rights and money in politics (California, Missouri, South Dakota, Washington).</strong></p><p>Voters in California and Washington both passed initiatives formally encouraging their states’ congressional delegations to work to overturn Citizens United. These efforts won’t make much of a difference with Republicans in control of the White House, Senate, and House, but it’s a strong endorsement for the cause.</p><p>In the red states of Missouri and South Dakota, voters passed campaign finance initiatives with a bit more bite. Missouri’s Amendment 2 will place a hard limit on contributions for state and judicial candidates. The initiative is a re-do of similar legislation agree to by voters in 1994, but repealed by Republicans in 2008.</p><p>In South Dakota, initiated Measure 22 also passed, establishing a publicly funded campaign finance program and an ethics commission for the first time in that state. This bold initiative was backed by <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://represent.us/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1478801192742000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHsR-X4AJEwGQykdRNnDy5dGcshsw" href="http://represent.us/" target="_blank">Represent.Us</a>, a national anti-corruption group spawned in the wake of <em>Citizens United.</em></p><p>On the other hand, a second initiative in Washington, one with more teeth than the Citizens United measure, did not pass. Initiative 1464 would have enabled sales tax revenue to be allocated for “democracy credits” that residents could direct to candidates, an idea rooted in democratizing campaign contributions.</p><p><strong>5. Right to work for less (Alabama, Virginia).</strong></p><p>Results on “right to work” initiatives were split. The 26 mostly southern states with so-called “right to work” laws that undercut labor unions tend to have lower wages, less health care coverage and an overall lower quality of life. Nevertheless, anti-union ideologues organized two initiatives to cement these laws in their state’s constitutions. Virginia voters rejected this proposal but Alabamans supported it.</p><p><strong>6. Charter schools (Massachusetts, Georgia).</strong></p><p>Question 2 in Massachusetts was handed a major defeat despite breaking the state’s record for ballot initiative campaign spending. The initiative would have lifted the cap on the number of charter schools allowed to operate in the state and would take an estimated $100 million from public schools. In Georgia, an initiative to hand over power over the public education system to for-profit corporations was soundly defeated. Republican Georgia Governor Nathan Deal supported the measure.</p><p><strong>7. Protection against drug price-gouging (California).</strong></p><p>Lastly, and perhaps most disappointing, Big Pharma spent more than $100 million to defeat a proposal to prohibit the state of California from paying more than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does for the same pharmaceuticals. This was the biggest outlay in any ballot initiative fight in the country — and a chilling reminder of how big money can undercut this hard-fought tool for direct democracy.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1066894'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1066894" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 09 Nov 2016 13:06:00 -0800 Sarah Anderson, Josh Hoxie, AlterNet 1066894 at https://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 ballot initiatives state government inequality red states election 2016 17 Ballot Initiatives to Watch if You Care About Inequality https://www.alternet.org/economy/ballot-initiatives-ease-inequality <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1066535'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1066535" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">From taxing the wealthy to price-gouging on drugs, there are a wide variety of inequality-related measures on the ballot. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_215115700_0.jpg?itok=LJGbceDG" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>During the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, when levels of inequality were as sky-high as they are today, progressive reformers fought for the right to use citizen-led petition campaigns to circumvent the power of economic elites.</p><p>This right is now available in 24 states and Washington, D.C. through ballot initiatives. And in a year in which Bernie Sanders pushed inequality into the center of the primary debates, it’s not surprising that many of the 2016 initiatives reflect the public’s growing outrage over our return to Gilded Age-level divides.  </p><p>Of course corporate-backed groups are putting up <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.citizen.org/documents/big-business-ballot-bullies-corporate-money-report.pdf&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1478273997463000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFGtbxF3o17SJMf_4zjLxmi-weGaw" href="http://www.citizen.org/documents/big-business-ballot-bullies-corporate-money-report.pdf" target="_blank">big money</a> to undercut this form of direct democracy. But North Dakota voters already notched one victory for the little guy in their June primary when they voted 3-to-1 to uphold rules prohibiting corporate farming. Here are some of the other key inequality-related state ballot initiatives we’ll be watching on election night.</p><p><strong>1. </strong><strong>Tax increases on the wealthy and corporations (California, Oregon, Maine).</strong></p><p>In 2012, California temporarily raised state income taxes on millionaires to the highest in the country, with a rate of 13.3 percent on incomes over $1 million. In the years following, the Golden State economy has flourished, <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/17/one-state-raised-taxes-the-other-cut-them-guess-which-one-is-in-recession/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1478273997463000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEzxtVTDF8vxPrOpJQezMORrNbgGw" href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/17/one-state-raised-taxes-the-other-cut-them-guess-which-one-is-in-recession/" target="_blank">disproving conservative economists</a>’ predictions that calamity would ensue. Voters will decide on Tuesday whether to extend this tax increase, and the <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.lao.ca.gov/ballot/2016/Prop55-110816.pdf&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1478273997463000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGlbkUK0SPM6ON8Aklv5MwvtEawUg" href="http://www.lao.ca.gov/ballot/2016/Prop55-110816.pdf" target="_blank">$4 billion-$9 billion</a> in annual revenue that would come with it, for another dozen years.</p><p>Oregon’s corporate taxes on large and profitable corporations are the lowest in the country. The group <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://abetteroregon.org/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1478273997463000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHLCCrbBgknoIrlVWG6wAP2xKGmrQ" href="http://abetteroregon.org/" target="_blank">A Better Oregon</a> is working to change that through Measure 97, which would raises rates on corporations with over $25 million in sales in the state, with revenue earmarked to fund education, health care, and senior services.</p><p><a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://ballotpedia.org/Maine_Tax_on_Incomes_Exceeding_$200,000_for_Public_Education,_Question_2_(2016)&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1478273997463000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGIlYjqtOcJAGZHoMDpHDHXaNYXfQ" href="https://ballotpedia.org/Maine_Tax_on_Incomes_Exceeding_$200,000_for_Public_Education,_Question_2_(2016)" target="_blank">Question 2 on Maine’s ballot</a> would add a 3 percent tax on the incomes of households earning more than $200,000 a year. The initiative would further reduce inequality by channeling revenue towards closing the gap between rich and poor school districts.</p><p><strong>2. Minimum wage increases (</strong><strong>Maine, Colorado, Arizona, Washington).</strong></p><p>In 2014, minimum wage measures <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.ncsl.org/research/labor-and-employment/minimum-wage-ballot-measures.aspx&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1478273997463000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHJE_4_3Hppe1kYHjk2kMQI3vQmtg" href="http://www.ncsl.org/research/labor-and-employment/minimum-wage-ballot-measures.aspx" target="_blank">won in all of the five states</a> where they were on the ballots, including in the four red states of Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. This year, voters in four states — Maine, Colorado, Arizona, and Washington — will have the chance to lift up the bottom of the wage scale.</p><p>Maine’s <strong>Question 4</strong> is of particular interest because it would phase out the subminimum wage for restaurant servers and other tipped workers by no later than 2024. The Maine, Arizona, and Colorado initiatives each tick up the wage to $12 per hour by 2020, while Washington goes up to $13.50. Arizona and Washington also include earned sick leave protections.</p><p>In South Dakota, living wage advocates are in defense mode. After winning a raise in the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 in the last election, they’re now fighting an initiative that would claw back that raise for workers under 18 years old. MIT’s <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://livingwage.mit.edu/states/46&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1478273997463000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGyznVzGNmkBCBFgTKiobG6QHA_cQ" href="http://livingwage.mit.edu/states/46" target="_blank">Living Wage Calculator</a> shows the hourly living wage for an individual with no dependents in South Dakota is $9.54 for a full-time worker. It jumps to $19.87 for a single parent.</p><p><strong>3. Protection against drug price gouging (California).</strong></p><p><strong>Proposition 61</strong> prohibits the state of California from paying more than U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does for the same pharmaceuticals. This would include medicine purchased for state employees and retirees, university students, prison inmates, uninsured people with HIV/AIDS, and residents covered by the state’s public insurance program.</p><p>Big Pharma has spent <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/10/11/big-pharma-spending-big-defeat-drug-price-measure&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1478273997463000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGFUNzF-MzpEPAXDvGeQLlNp-zwlw" href="http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/10/11/big-pharma-spending-big-defeat-drug-price-measure" target="_blank">nearly $90 million</a> to defeat the proposal with plans to spend over $100 million before Election Day, making this initiative the most expensive in 2016. These corporate giants have good reason to worry. With a win in California, this campaign could spread to other states and to the federal level where Senator Bernie Sanders aims to make drug cost control a top priority for the coming Congress.</p><p><strong>4. Protection against predatory lending (South Dakota).</strong></p><p>South Dakota’s <strong>Initiated Measure 21</strong> would set a cap of 36 percent on short-term payday loan interest rates, which currently average an astounding 650 percent in the state. According to <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.citizen.org/documents/big-business-ballot-bullies-corporate-money-report.pdf&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1478273997463000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFGtbxF3o17SJMf_4zjLxmi-weGaw" href="http://www.citizen.org/documents/big-business-ballot-bullies-corporate-money-report.pdf" target="_blank">Public Citizen</a>, corporate-backed opponents of this initiative have outspent supporters by 16-to-1. This predatory industry has also funded a competing measure (<strong>Constitutional Amendment U</strong>) that would cap rates at 18 percent, but with a huge loophole that would allow unlimited interest rates as long as the borrower agrees to the rate in writing. The industry’s proposal would place the provision in the state constitution, effectively tying the hands of state legislators to crack down on sky-high interest rates.</p><p><strong>5.</strong><strong>Limits on corporate rights and money in politics (California, Missouri, South Dakota, Washington).</strong></p><p><strong>Initiative 735</strong> in Washington and <strong>Proposition 59</strong> in California encourage each state’s congressional delegation to work to overturn <em>Citizens United</em>. These efforts keep the issue of big money in politics in the spotlight, but won’t do much to break through Washington gridlock.</p><p>In Missouri and South Dakota, voters have the opportunity to pass campaign finance initiatives with a bit more bite. Missouri’s <strong>Amendment 2</strong> would place a hard limit on contributions for state and judicial candidates. In 1994, voters in that state overwhelming approved a similar ballot initiative, but a Republican governor and GOP-led legislature repealed it in 2008.</p><p>In South Dakota, <strong>initiated Measure 22</strong> would establish a publicly funded campaign finance program and an ethics commission. This bold initiative is the work of <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://represent.us/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1478273997463000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEJc2hxc2RUKPXtuUMsPo93_Q1bhw" href="http://represent.us/" target="_blank">Represent.Us</a> a national anti-corruption group spawned in the wake of<em>Citizens United.</em></p><p><strong>6. </strong><strong>Right to work for less (Alabama, Virginia).</strong></p><p>The 26 mostly southern states with so-called “right to work” laws that undercut labor unions tend to have lower wages, less health care coverage, and an overall lower quality of life. Nevertheless, ant-union ideologues want to see these laws cemented in their state’s constitutions with the <strong>Right to Work amendment</strong> in Virginia and<strong>Amendment 8</strong> in Alabama.</p><p><strong>7. </strong><strong>Charter schools (Massachusetts, Georgia).</strong></p><p>Billionaires including Michael Bloomberg to the Walton family have pumped more than $11 million into Massachusetts in support of <strong>Question 2</strong>, an initiative to lift the cap on charter schools, which would take away up to $100 million in much-needed funding from public schools. Meanwhile Republican Georgia Governor Nathan Deal is supporting <strong>Amendment 1</strong>, an initiative that would allow that state to give absolute power over public schools to a hand-picked appointee and allow for-profit corporations to run Georgia’s education system.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1066535'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1066535" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 03 Nov 2016 09:36:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, Josh Hoxie, AlterNet 1066535 at https://www.alternet.org Economy Economy Election 2016 ballot initiatives state government local government election 2016 Presidential Politics and CEO Pay https://www.alternet.org/election-2016/presidential-politics-and-ceo-pay <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">While candidates are busy ranting about Wall Street&#039;s fat cats, taxpayers are left picking up their billion-dollar tab.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_133007996.jpg?itok=3yr6edQV" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Politicians love to beat up on overpaid CEOs.</p><p>In the wake of the 2008 financial crash, Republican presidential candidate <a href="http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/mccain-bank-execs/2008/09/22/id/325462/#ixzz4J1jGBUsN" target="_blank">John McCain lashed out </a>at executives of bailed-out banks, calling for their pay to be cut to the salary level of the President of the United States, $400,000 a year.</p><p>President Barack Obama has been even tougher, once telling <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB126073152465089651" target="_blank">CBS’s “60 Minutes”</a> that he “did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street.”</p><p>This election season, Donald Trump said <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-trump-idUSKCN0RD0PA20150913" target="_blank">huge CEO paychecks</a> were a “joke” and a “disgrace” — the result of company boards stacked with cronies.</p><p>For her part, Hillary Clinton has said it “just doesn’t make sense” that big company CEOs make <a href="https://medium.com/hillary-for-america/moving-beyond-quarterly-capitalism-7abec53733f6#.3lkcsgn6b" target="_blank">300 times more than workers</a>, especially when the gaps in other countries are so much narrower.</p><p>Clearly, the outrage over out-of-control CEO pay runs across the political spectrum. What else do these leading politicians have in common? A lack of effective solutions.</p><div id="attachment_32232"><img alt="wall-street-ceo-pay-executive-excess" src="http://otherwords.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/wall-street-ceo-pay-executive-excess-600x398.jpg" style="height: 265px; width: 400px;" /><p>(Photo: Sergei Bachlakov / Shutterstock.com)</p></div><p>Since losing his presidential race, Sen. McCain hasn’t supported any tough CEO pay reforms. Trump, for all his bluster about the problem, hasn’t put forward any solutions either.</p><p>Obama did support several executive pay reforms that were included in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. Some of these have been implemented, including “say on pay,” which gives shareholders a vote on executive pay packages. But the impact is limited because the votes aren’t binding on corporate managers.</p><p>The Dodd-Frank law also includes an important new rule that’ll require companies to report the ratio between CEO and median worker pay, starting in 2018. But the Obama administration hasn’t supported proposals to put real teeth in this reform by linking it to tax and procurement policies.</p><p>If companies with low pay gaps were rewarded with lower tax rates or preferential treatment in government contracting, we’d see some real change.</p><p>And one of the most important Dodd-Frank provisions, a ban on Wall Street bonuses that encourage inappropriate risk, still hasn’t been implemented. In fact, thanks to a perverse loophole in the tax code, taxpayers are actually subsidizing these bonuses.</p><p>The creator of this loophole is another presidential candidate who talked tough about CEO pay on the campaign trail: Bill Clinton.</p><p>In 1993, he pushed Congress to cap the deductibility of pay at $1 million. Companies could still pay their CEOs as much as they liked, but anything above $1 million wouldn’t be deductible. It was a good plan — until Clinton agreed to insert a huge loophole for so-called “performance-based” pay.</p><p>This meant that the more companies doled out in stock options and other bonuses, the less they paid in taxes. The loophole applies to all companies, but it’s been particularly problematic in the financial industry.</p><p>A <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/executive-excess-2016-wall-street-ceo-bonus-loophole-2/" target="_blank">report I co-authored</a> for the Institute for Policy Studies found that the top 20 U.S. banks paid out more than $2 billion in fully deductible performance bonuses to their top five executives over the past four years. This translates into a taxpayer subsidy of $1.7 million, per executive, per year.</p><p>Beyond the lost revenue, this loophole also perpetuates the reckless Wall Street bonus culture that caused the financial crash in the first place.</p><p>If elected president, Hillary Clinton would have an opportunity to correct her husband’s policy mistake. So far, though, she’s <a href="https://medium.com/hillary-for-america/moving-beyond-quarterly-capitalism-7abec53733f6#.4io9zxxhu" target="_blank">only said</a> she wants to “reform” this loophole, without explicitly calling for its closure.</p><p>If our leaders want to be taken seriously when they rant about runaway CEO pay, they need to embrace solutions that’ll have a real impact — rather than just spewing rhetoric to score populist political points.</p><p> </p> Wed, 07 Sep 2016 10:27:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, OtherWords 1063267 at https://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Economy Election 2016 ceo corporate compensation ceo pay wall street money and politics election 2016 Mike Pence Is a Loyal Friend to Polluters https://www.alternet.org/environment/pences-partners-against-climate-regs-tax-dodging-utilities <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1060354'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1060354" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">In 2015 the Indiana governor told Obama his state would not comply with the Clean Power Plan.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-07-18_at_2.39.17_pm.png?itok=8u9XEE86" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>In Mike Pence, Donald Trump has picked a running mate who could be relied on to take a chainsaw to President Obama’s signature environmental policy.</p><p>In 2015 the Indiana governor <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view%3DEventDetails%26eventidn%3D221567%26information_id%3D215753%26type%3D%26syndicate%3Dsyndicate&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1468953144262000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGcIDQtvVg6MjdrFwq6EGhabgigEw" href="http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&amp;eventidn=221567&amp;information_id=215753&amp;type=&amp;syndicate=syndicate" target="_blank">told</a> Obama in no uncertain terms that his state would not be complying with the Clean Power Plan, which sets targets for reducing power plant emissions in each state. Pence joined a lawsuit that has succeeded in tying up the plan in court.</p><p>He and other climate crisis-denying policymakers have benefited from a well-coordinated network of industry front groups, conservative think tanks and law firms bent on blocking the Clean Power Plan. A good chunk of the funding for this cabal comes from some of the country’s largest electrical utilities companies.</p><p>Where do they get all that extra spending money? It turns out public utilities are champion tax dodgers—the dodgiest of all U.S. business sectors, in fact.</p><p>According to a <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.ips-dc.org/utilities-pay-up/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1468953144262000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEEz2iY25gxblG96B80hc7CmMXX5g" href="http://www.ips-dc.org/utilities-pay-up/" target="_blank">new report</a> by the Institute for Policy Studies, 23 of the 40 publicly held utilities that were profitable in 2015 paid no federal taxes that year. Sixteen of them paid no state income taxes. The most extreme example last year was Southern Company, which reaped $210 million in federal and state tax refunds, despite $3.6 billion in pre-tax income.</p><p>This Georgia-based firm, with nine million customers in the southeastern United States, is a fierce Clean Power Plan opponent. In <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.regulations.gov/document?D%3DEPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602-22907&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1468953144262000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEloeiUlVrzyjpwSgm_mX7fOo6NIg" href="https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602-22907" target="_blank">comments to the Environmental Protection Agency</a>, the firm warned the plan would result in “a complete deconstruction of the nation’s electric sector.”</p><p>Southern officials also did their best to make their customers’ hair stand on end by claiming the CPP would put $35 billion in upward pressure on their rates over the next 15 years. By contrast, the administration forecasts <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan/fact-sheet-clean-power-plan-benefits-cleaner-more-efficient-power-sector&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1468953144262000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFqCzaARtFbVKPuBvxfy5i6DaS3Hw" href="https://www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan/fact-sheet-clean-power-plan-benefits-cleaner-more-efficient-power-sector" target="_blank">$80 per year</a> in average savings per household through increased efficiency.</p><p>Southern CEO Tom Fanning pocketed $11.8 million in compensation last year and steered a good share of the rest of the proceeds from tax-dodging into blocking the Clean Power Plan through various industry groups, such as the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. That outfit is in turn a member of the <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2475751-utility-air-regulatory-group-brief-for.html&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1468953144262000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEnl6eO5fIUOYiYSR0l-2Qv73NI0A" href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2475751-utility-air-regulatory-group-brief-for.html" target="_blank">Utility Air Regulatory Group</a>, a petitioner along with Pence’s state of Indiana in the <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.chamberlitigation.com/sites/default/files/cases/files/2015/ESPS%2520Litigation%2520Tracker%2520for%2520February%25209%25202016.pdf&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1468953144262000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGtNhxljEwNNpRe0u1etLP0V7j-Gw" href="http://www.chamberlitigation.com/sites/default/files/cases/files/2015/ESPS%20Litigation%20Tracker%20for%20February%209%202016.pdf" target="_blank">lawsuit</a> to overturn the Clean Power Plan. The company is also a major Capitol Hill presence in its own right, having spent more than <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id%3DD000000168&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1468953144262000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEmEt1R5mNbqytd2U2vTpwtt-bTdg" href="https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000168" target="_blank">$25 million</a> in federal lobbying in 2013-2014.</p><p>Pence and his utility industry partners against the CPP say they’re looking out for the public interest. They claim the EPA’s rules will be expensive for ratepayers and cost jobs. And yet if they were truly interested in what’s best for ordinary Americans, they would be investing much more in energy efficiency, the cheapest and fastest route to reducing carbon emissions.</p><p>Utilities are required by law to invest in “demand-side” energy efficiency at the consumer end, but the patchwork of state and federal programs have not gone nearly far enough to mitigate climate change and move the country toward a clean energy future.</p><p>Most of these programs also require home and building owners to invest significant upfront capital and so poor households often cannot participate. And since such programs potentially reduce utilities’ profits by reducing energy demand, the firms have had little incentive to do more.</p><p>It would make far more sense to plug the loopholes that have allowed these highly profitable utilities get away without paying their fair share of taxes. Then invest the revenue in projects that would benefit everyday Americans, especially low-income and communities of color. If Southern had paid the full statutory federal and state tax rates last year, for example, they would’ve contributed nearly $1.5 billion to public coffers—enough to fund 9,000 good jobs for people in retrofitting homes or building wind turbines.</p><p>If all 40 profitable utilities had paid their fair share at the state and federal levels in 2015, they would’ve paid about of $14 billion in additional revenue. That would’ve been enough to create 88,000 energy efficiency jobs or weatherize homes for up to three million low-income families.</p><p>Of course such sensible plans would have as much chance of happening under a Trump-Pence administration as a snowball’s survival in you-know-where. This climate change-denying duo would be too busy butchering environmental protections to bother with tax-dodging utilities.</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="560" style="width: 600px; height: 318px;" width="1055"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="560" style="width: 600px; height: 318px;" width="1055" typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/screen_shot_2016-07-18_at_6.36.27_pm.png" /></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1060354'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1060354" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 18 Jul 2016 11:27:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, Janet Redman, AlterNet 1060354 at https://www.alternet.org Environment Election 2016 Environment pence The Terrible Things That Happen When Santa Claus Visits CEOS https://www.alternet.org/economy/terrible-things-happen-when-santa-claus-visits-ceos <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1047729'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1047729" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A 20-year-old rule intended to control CEO pay has bloated executive paychecks while draining tax revenue and widening inequality.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_108874103-edited.jpg?itok=bHiu7-za" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>This week marks the 20th anniversary of an epic boondoggle in U.S. policy-making history. On Dec. 20, 1995, a tax rule went into effect that was supposed to rein in CEO pay. Boy, did it backfire. </p><p>That year, the gap between pay for large company CEOs and average workers ran 180 to 1. Today, it stands at <a href="http://www.aflcio.org/Corporate-Watch/Paywatch-2015" target="_blank">373 to 1</a>.</p><p>How did this reform go so very, very wrong? The idea was to put a $1 million cap on corporate tax deductions for executive pay, with the idea that boards might be loath to send pay levels into the stratosphere if it meant a corresponding spike in their IRS bills. The problem is that the new rule, Section 162(m) of the tax code, included a massive loophole. The $1 million cap didn’t apply to so-called “performance pay.”</p><p>It wasn’t hard for corporations to rejigger their pay plans so that (voila!) most of the money became fully deductible. The more companies paid their CEOs, the less they paid in taxes. So why not deliver them even bigger boatloads of pay?</p><p>Meanwhile, the rest of us got stuck with the bill. American taxpayers who have seen their wages stagnate have been forced to subsidize the pay of those who sit atop the largest businesses.</p><p>According to a <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/ceo-stocking-stuffers/" target="_blank">report </a>we’ve just co-authored, this “performance pay” loophole allowed 10 U.S. corporations alone to cut their 2014 tax bill by more than $182 million through CEO pay-related deductions. And this is just part of their total subsidy, since loophole applies to four top executives at each company.</p><p>One CEO was off the charts. McKesson CEO John Hammergren pocketed $112 million in fully deductible “performance pay” in 2014. This included more than $60 million in stock options and more than $50 million in stock and bonuses tied to performance criteria. That translates into a $39 million taxpayer subsidy for the pharmaceutical company, assuming a 35 percent corporate tax rate.</p><p>The stock-pay incentives created by this loophole have also played a powerful role in deepening wealth inequality. Fortune 500 CEOs collectively owned more than $270 billion of their companies’ stock, according to Center for Effective Government analysis of proxy statements. This represents $550 million in stock wealth per executive. In contrast, the median total net worth of the average American household is only <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/billionaire-bonanza/" target="_blank">$81,400</a>.</p><p>Obamacare closed the performance pay loophole—but only for health insurance companies. Big insurers like UnitedHealth and Cigna can deduct no more than $500,000 in pay per executive, with no exceptions. The reasoning is that these companies should not pass off increased profits from the public program into the pockets of their executives.</p><p>But other companies that have benefited from the expanded pool of insured customers, including pharmaceutical firms like McKesson, are not subject to the same deductibility cap. That’s obviously nuts. But the real solution is to eliminate the perverse performance pay loophole for all firms.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.reed.senate.gov/news/release/reed-blumenthal-introduce-the-stop-subsidizing-multimillion-dollar-corporate-bonuses-act" target="_blank">Joint Committee on Taxation estimates</a> that eliminating this loophole would generate $50 billion in revenue over 10 years. Several bills have been introduced that would do just that.</p><p>Most recently, Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the <a href="http://www.warren.senate.gov/files/documents/SAVE_Benefits_One_Pager_Press.pdf" target="_blank">Seniors and Veterans Emergency Benefits Act</a>, which would use revenue from eliminating the loophole to provide about 70 million seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and others a one-time payment equal to 3.9 percent of the average annual Social Security benefit, or about $581. According to the <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/top-ceos-make-300-times-more-than-workers-pay-growth-surpasses-market-gains-and-the-rest-of-the-0-1-percent/" target="_blank">Economic Policy Institute</a>, 3.9 percent is the average raise received by CEOs of large U.S. corporations enjoyed last year.</p><p>By closing this loophole, we could make progress toward creating a fairer society and generating funds that could be used for greater public purpose. After 20 years, it’s time to pull the plug on this policy disaster.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1047729'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1047729" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 21 Dec 2015 10:02:00 -0800 Sarah Anderson, Scott Klinger, AlterNet 1047729 at https://www.alternet.org Economy Economy corporations economy 100 CEOs’ Nest Eggs = Retirement Savings of 41% of Families https://www.alternet.org/economy/100-ceos-nest-eggs-retirement-savings-41-families <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1044713'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1044713" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">We need to talk about the retirement savings gap.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-10-26_at_11.23.40_am.png?itok=1XlFhSqY" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>If you think the pay gap in this country is bad, consider the retirement savings gap. </p><p>Just 100 CEOs have company retirement assets that are equal to the entire retirement account savings of 41 percent of American families. On average, these 100 CEOs’ nest eggs are worth more than $49.3 million. That’s enough to generate a $277,686 monthly retirement check for the rest of their lives. </p><p>It probably comes as no surprise that the CEO with the largest retirement nest egg in the Fortune 500 presides over a low-wage empire. David Novak, CEO of fast-food giant YUM Brands, has $234 million in his company retirement fund—enough to deliver a $1.3 million monthly check after he retires. With that kind of dough, in one month Novak could buy a membership to the 10 <a href="http://www.insidermonkey.com/blog/the-10-most-expensive-golf-memberships-336939/" target="_blank">most expensive golf clubs</a> in the world, with enough left over for a couple kilos of the world’s <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2015/02/19/is-this-the-worlds-most-expensive-food-white-gold-caviar-selling-for-100000-euros-a-kilo.html" target="_blank">most expensive caviar</a> (sprinkled with gold leaf). Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Novak’s employees who fry chicken and toss pizzas at Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC have no company retirement assets whatsoever. </p><p>These numbers come from a <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/tale-of-two-retirements/" target="_blank">new report</a> we’ve co-authored for the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Effective Government that is the first to analyze the gap between the retirement assets of Fortune 500 CEOs and the rest of America. The report tells the tale of two retirements—one for CEOs and the other for the rest of us. </p><p>Why have executive nest eggs reached such massive proportions? One major reason is that loopholes in the tax code give executives preferential treatment. <a href="http://teresaghilarducci.org/index.php/pension-reform-beyond-401ks" target="_blank">Nearly half</a> of all American workers have no retirement plan at work. Those who have a 401(k) or other type of tax-deferred plan face strict limits on how much they can set aside in these accounts for their golden years. Workers 50 and older can contribute $24,000 each year, while younger workers can contribute $18,000. </p><p>CEOs have no such limits. While slashing worker pensions, CEOs take advantage of special loopholes that allow them to invest unlimited amounts of compensation into tax-deferred accounts set up by their employers. Seventy-three percent of Fortune 500 firms offer executives deferred compensation plans. As of the end of 2014, CEOs at these firms had accumulated $3.2 billion in these accounts. </p><p>Take Glenn Renwick, CEO of the Progressive insurance company. Last year he dropped the biggest wad of cash in his tax-deferred account of any Fortune 500 CEO: $26.2 million. That saved him more than $10 million on his IRS bill last year. That money can be invested and grow tax-free until he starts spending it, at which point he would owe a one-time tax payment at an ordinary income rate. And if he really suffers from tax-itis, as so many executives do, he has the option of further lowering his liability by moving to a state like Florida, which has no income tax, before he withdraws the funds. </p><p>On top of these tax-deferred accounts, more than half of Fortune 500 CEOs have executive pensions that guarantee them a fixed monthly payment for their entire post-retirement life. For workers, that kind of benefit is about as common as a typewriter in today’s American workplaces. Last year 18 percent of private sector employees were covered by this type of “defined benefit” pension, down from 35 percent in the early 1990s. </p><p>Few people realize that the lavish retirement packages for executives and growing retirement insecurity for the rest of us are inextricably linked. Executives have huge incentives to slash worker retirement benefits as a way of boosting corporate profits and stock prices. And since more than half of executive compensation is tied to the company’s stock price, every dollar not spent on employee retirement security is money in the CEO’s pocket. </p><p>To reverse the retirement divide, we need to expand Social Security. Unlike corporate retirement plans, these benefits are progressive, favoring low- and middle-income workers. Nearly a third of those approaching retirement will be depending almost solely on Social Security, and the current average monthly benefit check is only about $1,200. </p><p>How to pay for this expansion? After slashing employee retirement benefits for so many years, it’s time for CEOs and large corporations to step up and pay their fair share of a program that would allow all seniors to live a dignified life. Top executives (and other high-income Americans) should contribute to Social Security on all their income, including stock-based pay. Corporations should no longer get unlimited tax deductions for executive pay and benefits. And there should be just one set of deferred compensation rules for all employees—regardless of whether they work in the executive suite or the fast food line. </p><p>Especially with our rapidly aging population, bold action now to narrow the retirement gap is critical if we are to avoid a segregated world for seniors, with unmet basic needs for millions and gold leaf-sprinkled caviar for the privileged few.  </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1044713'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1044713" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 26 Oct 2015 08:10:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, Scott Klinger, AlterNet 1044713 at https://www.alternet.org Economy Economy retirement savings economy money Papal Smackdown: Pope Francis v. Fossil Fuel Execs https://www.alternet.org/environment/papal-smackdown-pope-francis-v-fossil-fuel-execs <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1042744'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1042744" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The Pope has taken aim at a lucrative system.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_171443828.jpg?itok=A4e-yH-H" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>For most of us in the cities on Pope Francis’ upcoming U.S. tour, the major concern is traffic congestion. For fossil fuel executives, look out.</p><p>The Pope closed out his blockbuster, 180-page <a href="http://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si_en.pdf" target="_blank">encyclical on climate change</a> in May by appealing to God to “Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.”</p><p>Sound like anybody you know, Rex Tillerson? The ExxonMobil CEO is notoriously obstinate in his opposition to Pope Francis’ call for a shift from intensive fossil fuel use to alternatives like solar and wind. In fact, when a Catholic priest and shareholder activist urged investment in renewables at the company’s annual meeting this year, Tillerson openly <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/pope-inspires-catholic-investors-to-press-environmental-concerns-1436434201" target="_blank">mocked</a> him.</p><p>Enlightening Tillerson and all the other wealthy and powerful U.S. fossil fuel executives who are just as dismissive of climate change will be a challenge of biblical proportions. A <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/executive-excess-2015/" target="_blank">new report</a> I’ve just co-authored for the Institute for Policy Studies sheds light on just one of the major obstacles: our CEO pay system. In 2015, corporate boards are still designing compensation packages that give oil, gas and coal executives zero personal incentive to diversify their companies’ portfolios to include renewable energy sources. </p><p>It’s pretty much a “pay more to drill more” system, and it’s been enormously lucrative. While shoving the costs of their climate-damaging activities on the rest of us, the 30 top fossil fuel CEOs made $14.7 million last year on average. Tillerson, with $33 million, made well more than double the S&amp;P 500 average of $13.5 million.</p><p>One of the most perverse aspects of the fossil fuel executive pay system is that it rewards CEOs at bonus time for expanding their carbon reserves. Never mind that if the world’s largest fossil fuel companies were to burn all the oil, coal and gas they already own, it would cause <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719" target="_blank">irreversible climate disaster</a>, everything from extreme flooding and drought to a significant rise in sea level.</p><p>And it doesn’t matter what’s in those reserves. At Marathon Oil, CEO Lee Tillman won an “above-target” bonus of $1.2 million in 2014, in part for expanding reserves of U.S. oil shale, the fracking of which poses well-documented environmental risks, including water contamination and even earthquakes.</p><p>CEOs are also rewarded for project execution, regardless of the environmental impacts. At ExxonMobil, the board justified high payouts to Tillerson and other execs in 2014 in part because they’d “<a href="http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/34088/000119312515128602/d855824ddef14a.htm" target="_blank">successfully drilled</a>” their first well in the Russian Arctic, even though their Russian joint venture partner has a <a href="http://www.greenpeace.org/norway/Global/norway/Arktis/Russian%20Roulette.pdf" target="_blank">dismal environmental record</a> and the project was eventually <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-12-01/exxon-rosneft-scrap-arctic-contracts-as-russia-sanctions-bite" target="_blank">scrapped</a>.</p><p>Pope Francis has a growing number of <a href="http://divestinvest.org/" target="_blank">allies</a> in the investment community who fear climate change-dismissive CEOs are taking their firms down a risky financial path. If these firms don’t diversify, they could wind up stuck with massive quantities of devalued “<a href="http://www.carbontracker.org/resources/#key-terms" target="_blank">stranded assets</a>.” The coal industry is already imploding as a result of climate regulations and other factors that have reduced demand.</p><p>The Pope will need all the help he can get to turn this bunch around. A just-released investigation by <a href="http://insideclimatenews.org/news/15092015/Exxons-own-research-confirmed-fossil-fuels-role-in-global-warming" target="_blank">Inside Climate News</a> reveals that ExxonMobil executives were warned of fossil fuels’ role in creating devastating climate change in the late 1970s, long before most of the rest of the world. How did they respond? By devising strategies to block climate solutions.</p><p>Changing Rex Tillerson’s personal reward system won’t be enough to prevent climate catastrophe. But as long as fossil fuel executives are insulated from the crisis they’ve helped create, we’ll all remain at risk.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1042744'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1042744" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 21 Sep 2015 08:30:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, AlterNet 1042744 at https://www.alternet.org Environment Environment pope catholic belief oil fossil fuel climate change The 3 Most Asinine Corporate Arguments Against CEO-Worker Pay Disclosure https://www.alternet.org/labor/3-most-asinine-corporate-arguments-against-ceo-worker-pay-disclosure <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1039393'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1039393" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">As Dodd-Frank turns five, the SEC hasn&#039;t been able to put the regulations into practice.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_127785641-edited.jpg?itok=MP3aW35r" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Regulators of the Great Depression era could teach their modern-day counterparts a few lessons in how to get things done. Consider, for example, how fast the Securities and Exchange Commission of that era was able to implement the first executive pay disclosure rules, compared to today’s bureaucratic foot-dragging.</p><p>When Congress required U.S. corporations to start reporting their exec comp figures in 1934, it provoked a huge corporate backlash. One firm wrote, for example, that the public’s interest in this information amounted to “<a href="http://lawreview.richmond.edu/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Wells-442-JB.pdf" target="_blank">criminal curiosity</a>.” Another suggested it would do nothing but make the “rank and file seethe with discontent.” But those 1930s regulators ignored the pushback and put the law into force in less than a year.</p><p>Fast forward to 2010, when the Dodd-Frank financial reform law mandated expansion of pay disclosure to include median worker pay and the ratio between that and CEO pay. The big corporate lobby groups, predictably, threw another fit. Despite research showing that narrower pay gaps are good for business because they lower worker turnover and boost morale, these groups set out to kill the ratio in the rule-making phase.  </p><p>Unfortunately, in today’s Washington, SEC officials appear much less capable of ignoring that kind of corporate pressure than they were 80 years ago. When Dodd-Frank turns five years old on July 21, this simple rule will still not be in force. It may be the law of the land, but the SEC has not finalized the regulations to put it into practice.</p><p>So what are the brilliant corporate arguments that have stopped SEC officials in their tracks? Here are a few of the most common – and asinine—claims.</p><p><strong>1.      </strong><strong>The CEO-worker pay ratio is too costly and difficult to calculate.</strong></p><p>The <a href="https://www.uschamber.com/press-release/us-chamber-report-finds-sec-woefully-underestimated-impact-proposed-pay-ratio-rule" target="_blank">U.S. Chamber of Commerce</a> put out a study last year claiming that for large companies, it would take an average of 1,825 hours, at a cost per company of $311,800, to produce this one number. What a joke. This wage information should already be in company files. But to make it even easier, the SEC’s proposed regulation would allow companies to use statistical sampling so they wouldn’t even have to enter every single employee’s wage into the calculation. If the claims are not exaggerated, investors should be very concerned about why these companies have so much difficulty figuring out what they’re paying their own workers.</p><p><strong>2.      </strong><strong>The worker pay part of the calculation should be limited to just U.S.-based full-time workers because that would “<a href="http://www.sec.gov/comments/s7-07-13/s70713-228.pdf" target="_blank">provide more useful disclosure</a>.”</strong></p><p>This is simply not the intent of the law. Section 953(b) of Dodd-Frank explicitly references “all employees.” And this is for good reason. Investors have an interest in knowing whether companies are outsourcing to low-wage areas where routine violations of basic worker rights can contribute to political and economic instability. And corporations that turn good jobs into bad ones <em>should</em> have to pay more in compliance costs than companies that maintain a commitment to good jobs.</p><p><strong>3.      </strong><strong>This new disclosure requirement will harm poorer states and cities.</strong></p><p>This one is a real doozy. The <a href="http://www.sec.gov/comments/s7-07-13/s70713-228.pdf" target="_blank">National Investor Relations Institute</a>, which represents 1,600 U.S. companies, argues that their members will feel so much pressure to have a low CEO-worker pay ratio that they might not expand into low-income areas. Get real. Corporations that refuse to pay decent wages and force their workers to rely on taxpayer-funded social programs are the real threat to poorer communities.</p><p>The AFL-CIO, which has fought to narrow the gap between workers and top executives, has pretty much had it with the SEC on this one. Recently, they <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1hw4csNsPTBbFRZdFlVUGpnZWs/view" target="_blank">submitted a Freedom of Information Act request</a> for SEC records pertaining to this rule. They also <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1hw4csNsPTBcVZXUkZiX3M3Q0k/view" target="_blank">organized a letter</a> in support of this request signed by 19 organizations that represent investors and the public.  In a separate <a href="http://ourfinancialsecurity.org/sec-executive-compensation-petitions/" target="_blank">petition to the SEC</a>, more than 165,000 Americans demanded that the commission finally take action.</p><p>For five years, corporate lobbyists have succeeded in stalling this simple, commonsense regulation. There are rumors that the <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-18/sec-could-make-gabelli-pay-new-front-in-fight-over-income-divide" target="_blank">SEC may finally take action</a> on August 5. If they do, I predict the corporations that are currently fighting this new pay reporting requirement will eventually accept it as routine—just as they did in the 1930s – and will likely even benefit from it.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1039393'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1039393" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 15 Jul 2015 13:36:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, AlterNet 1039393 at https://www.alternet.org Labor Economy Labor ceo worker pay corporation dodd-frank sec Supporting NAFTA Was the Kiss of Death for Democrats --Why Dems Should Think Twice About Voting for TPP https://www.alternet.org/economy/obama-twists-arms-tpp-lets-take-look-back-dems-who-sold-us-out-nafta <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1037519'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1037519" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">As President Obama twists arms to pass “fast track,” a look back at the Democrats who helped Clinton win the bloody trade battle of 1993.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-06-08_at_11.16.24_am.png?itok=3m4KbLVd" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>It’s serious flashback time for those involved in the 1993 debate over the North America Free Trade Agreement. With the “fast track” trade vote expected as early as this Thursday, a Democratic president is once again twisting arms and dangling rewards in a desperate effort to muster votes for a corporate-driven trade deal. And just like in 1993, the vote will be one of those rare bipartisan moments in Washington. The word is only <a href="http://www.politico.eu/article/fast-track-trade-vote-still-up-in-the-air/" target="_blank">about a dozen members</a> remain on the fence, most of them Democrats. The president is reportedly <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/05/business/black-caucus-is-wooed-for-trade-pact-votes.html" target="_blank">putting the tightest screws</a> on members of the Congressional Black Caucus. After the NAFTA wheeling and dealing began in earnest back in 1993, it didn’t take long to push enough Dems off the fence. All these years later, NAFTA remains the basic blueprint for every U.S. trade deal. </p><p>Let me skip over NAFTA’s failure to deliver on promises for workers, the environment, human rights, etc. These have all been <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/DocServer/0642_NAFTA_Report_05_web_high.pdf?docID=15301" target="_blank">extensively documented</a> over the years by the Institute for Policy Studies, and many others across the continent. President Obama acknowledged its flaws himself when he made a campaign trail promise to <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2014/02/nafta-barack-obama-trade-mexico-103701.html" target="_blank">renegotiate the deal</a>. Instead, let’s take a look at what individual members got by helping to ram the pact through Congress. Did their support for the big business lobby’s dream deal ensure a glittering political career? </p><p>Starting at the top: Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley sided with the White House and against most of the House Democrats, including Majority Leader Richard Gephardt. In his 30-year political career, that controversial move stood out enough for the New York Times to mention it in Foley’s <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/19/us/politics/thomas-foley-former-house-speaker-dies-at-84.html" target="_blank">obituary</a>. A year after the NAFTA vote, the obit noted, “Mr. Foley became the first speaker since the Civil War to be defeated for re-election in his own district.”</p><p>Ouch. While Foley’s defeat can’t be attributed to a single factor, his decision to side with the corporate lobby on NAFTA certainly didn’t prevent his electoral humiliation either.  </p><p>Foley was not the only Democrat to flame out within a year of casting a vote for NAFTA. In fact, of the 34 Democratic incumbents who were defeated in the Republican sweep of 1994, 16 had voted for NAFTA. Several of these losers had been among the fence-sitters who received goodies from the administration. </p><p>Public Citizen has meticulously documented many of these trade vote deals over the past two decades and is planning to release a new report this week on the lessons from all this horse-trading. (Look for the report soon <a href="http://citizen.org/documents/dealmaking-lessons.pdf" target="_blank">here</a>.) What it found over the years is that most of these promises were never fulfilled. In a detailed 2001 report following up on the <a href="http://www.citizen.org/documents/fast_track_deals.PDF" target="_blank">NAFTA</a> deals, Public Citizen concluded that “systematically, the White House promises of special safeguards for U.S. farm commodities, bridges and more remained unfulfilled. Exceptions were several meaningless promises, such as photographs with the president, and one campaign fund-raising event.”</p><p>One of these unfulfilled promises targeted textile and apparel state members. In the days before the NAFTA vote, President Bill Clinton sent them letters aimed at calming concerns about a pending global trade rule to phase out import protections on these products within 10 years. The administration would secure an extension to 15 years, Clinton promised. A month after the NAFTA vote, U.S. negotiators accepted the 10-year timeline. </p><p>Rep. Clete Donald Johnson, Jr. was one of the targets of that empty promise. After voting for NAFTA, the Georgia Democrat got demolished in 1994, losing by a <a href="http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/electionInfo/index.html" target="_blank">margin of more than 30 percent.</a> A few years later, Clinton offered Johnson a consolation prize: a post as chief U.S. trade negotiator for textiles, a sector in rapid decline due to low-wage foreign competition. </p><p>Rep. Bill Sarpalius, of Texas, was another NAFTA sellout whose political career was cut short. According to <a href="http://www.citizen.org/documents/fast_track_deals.PDF" target="_blank">Public Citizen</a>, he pocketed a bevy of promises, including a new federally funded nuclear research lab that was to be located in his district. After Sarpalius lost his seat in 1994, the lab deal fell through.</p><p>Rep. David Price also lost his re-election bid after casting his NAFTA vote. According to <a href="http://www.multinationalmonitor.org/hyper/issues/1993/12/mm1293_04.html" target="_blank">Multinational Monitor</a>, the North Carolina Democrat came out in support of the deal after the Clinton administration conceded to his long-sought demands to award American Airlines two lucrative international air routes that would benefit his district. Price later regained a seat in Congress and is now once again sitting on the fence in the fast track debate. </p><p>The lure of prestigious institutional pork proved dangerously tempting for other members as well. Clinton promised <a href="http://www.multinationalmonitor.org/hyper/issues/1993/12/mm1293_04.html" target="_blank">Rep. Lewis Payne, Jr.</a> of Virginia that his district would be considered as the future site of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The Institute wound up in Gaithersburg, Maryland. </p><p>Dems from Dallas were proud to get a promise from the Clinton administration to site the new NAFTA Commission for Labor Cooperation in that city. Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson and Jack Bryant both proudly attended the <a href="http://www.naalc.org/publications/annual_reports/annual_report_1995/secretariat_activities_1995.htm" target="_blank">inaugural ceremony</a> in 1995, along with Dallas mayor (and later Obama U.S. trade representative) Ron Kirk. </p><p>Cornell University professor Lance Compa, who directed labor law research at the Commission, told me, “They thought they were getting dozens and dozens of high-paid professionals who would pump money into the local economy. They were disappointed when the grand total of nine Secretariat staff arrived.” Less than five years later, the Commission was <a href="http://new.naalc.org/english/pdf/report5.pdf" target="_blank">moved to Washington, DC</a>. During the Bush administration, it was quietly shut down. </p><p>Why President Obama is pulling out the stops for fast track, we may never know. After 20 years, it’s still hard to fathom why President Clinton was willing to sell out the store for NAFTA. </p><p>In his brilliant book <em>The Selling of Free Trade: NAFTA, Washington, and the Subversion of American Democracy,</em> John R. MacArthur provides some insights. Rahm Emanuel, per usual, was particularly candid. Then a top advisor to Clinton, Emanuel was a key leader of the NAFTA war room, along with chief trade negotiator Mickey Kantor and NAFTA czar William Daley. Asked about Clinton’s final drive for passage, Emanuel said: “He had to win. It’s better to win than to lose. I’m a big believer in that. I do not believe in moral victories.”</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.</p> </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1037519'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1037519" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 08 Jun 2015 08:07:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, AlterNet 1037519 at https://www.alternet.org Economy Economy nafta clinton economy mexico How the Civil War Never Ended for Black America https://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/how-civil-war-never-ended-black-america <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1036489'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1036489" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">By righting a 150-year-old wrong, re-enactors aim to help remedy long untreated ills at the root of today’s #BlackLivesMatter movement</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/union.png?itok=kEx0n26h" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Hundreds of African-American men marched to the White House this past Sunday. They were not wearing hoodies in honor of Trayvon Martin. They were not making the “hands up don’t shoot” gesture in honor of Michael Brown.</p><p>They were wearing blue wool trousers and greatcoats, forage caps and cavalry boots—in honor of African American soldiers who fought in the Civil War. Their aim: to correct a wrong made in 1865, when black soldiers were left out of the Grand Review, the Union Army’s victory parade.</p><p>1865? Seriously? With all the critically important racial justice causes of 2015?  </p><p>“Everything about the Civil War is present tense,” author <a href="http://portofharlem.net/cgibbs/#.VViBsY5Viko" target="_blank">C.R. Gibbs</a> told me. “This is not settled. Ferguson and Baltimore are just match flares on a long historical fuse.”</p><p>One need look no further than the U.S. Supreme Court docket for evidence of the Civil War in our contemporary lives. In March, the court heard a case regarding a request by the Sons of Confederate Veterans for a special Texas license plate featuring a Confederate battle flag.</p><p>In 2010, the Virginia public school system introduced a 4th grade <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/19/AR2010101907974.html" target="_blank">textbook</a> with bogus claims about thousands of loyal slaves fighting on the side of the Confederacy. The source? The Sons of Confederate Veterans.</p><p>Such disinformation is part of a broader neo-Confederate movement to deny that slavery was a major factor in the conflict—and to bury the history of African-Americans’ active role in their own emancipation.</p><p>Dr. Clarence Anthony Bush, whose great-grandfather fought in a light artillery regiment of the U.S. Colored Troops (USCT), told me it’s especially critical for young people to learn this little-known history. “Some African-Americans feel a little ashamed, thinking it was Abraham Lincoln who gave them their freedom. When you know your people fought for their freedom, it changes the way we look at ourselves and what our abilities are.”</p><p>Bush created a <a href="http://www.alutheranchurch.com/uploads/media/InterviewonBattleHymnofaFreedman-Transcript.pdf" target="_blank">gospel jazz musical</a> about black Civil War soldiers that was performed at the <a href="http://www.afroamcivilwar.org/" target="_blank">African American Civil War Museum</a> in Washington, DC. Nearby is a monument engraved with names of the more than 200,000 USCT members. By war’s end, they made up 10 percent of federal troops.  </p><p>For years, the museum has been tracking down descendants of black Civil War soldiers, recording their stories, and organizing them for the big Grand Review 150. On the eve of the parade, they hosted a vigil in which descendants from across the country paid tribute to their ancestors. Audrea Barnes, a second cousin of First Lady Michelle Obama, spoke about one of their mutual slave ancestors, Jerry Sutton (aka Suter), who ran away from a plantation in Alabama and joined the USCT’s 55th Regiment. Through archival research, she’s learned of his struggles for military pay equity and a failed attempt to obtain a veteran’s disability pension.</p><p>While the pension program was supposed to be color-blind, <a href="http://news.byu.edu/archive10-feb-unionarmy.aspx" target="_blank">Brigham Young University</a> research confirms that African-American veterans received less than their white counterparts. In part, this was a result of a lack of necessary documentation, but bureaucrats were also less likely to believe their claims. For example, they approved 44 percent of white soldiers’ claims regarding back pain, compared to only 16 percent of such claims by black soldiers.</p><p>A century and a half after the Civil War, racial inequalities in America are still staggering. Median income for nonwhites is only 65 percent that of whites. The wealth gap is even wider, with white families’ <a href="http://inequality.org/racial-inequality/" target="_blank">net worth six times</a> that of non-whites.</p><p>Jeremiah Lowery, a 29-year-old labor activist with <a href="http://rocunited.org/" target="_blank">Restaurant Opportunities Centers United</a>, told me he attended the Grand Review because “Just like the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter,’ black history matters too. They started to break down institutions of slavery 150 years ago. Today we have institutions that block people from earning a living wage and make people victims of brutality in the streets. It’s all connected.”</p><p>African-Americans led the Grand Review in 2015, but hundreds of white re-enactors also marched. “We even had people who’ve always re-enacted as Confederates put on Union uniforms today,” said African-American Civil War Museum Director (and former civil rights activist) Dr. Frank Smith.</p><p>Asked whether the event was more poignant in light of the explosion of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Smith said, “The Civil War led to the passage of the 14th Amendment, which was supposed to ensure that the federal government protected African-Americans when states didn’t. These young men don’t feel safe. And today it’s not just in the South, it’s in the North too. The fact that people are in the streets, though—that’s what gives me hope.”</p><p>Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1036489'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1036489" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sun, 17 May 2015 15:42:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, AlterNet 1036489 at https://www.alternet.org Human Rights Human Rights News & Politics #Ferguson 3 Charts That Show Just How Much Wall Street Bonuses Swamp Low-Wage Worker Pay https://www.alternet.org/labor/3-charts-show-just-how-much-wall-street-bonuses-swamp-low-wage-worker-pay <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1033130'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1033130" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">We’re unfairly rewarding the people whose work we couldn’t do without, such as taking care of the elderly. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/16785968405_4566a37073_o.png?itok=TV3oqCGb" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>While workers’ wages stagnate, the Wall Street bonus culture is flourishing.</p><p>New figures from the New York State Comptroller reveal that Wall Street banks handed out $28.5 billion in bonuses to their 167,800 employees last year. That’s nearly double the combined annual earnings of the more than 1 million full-time U.S. minimum wage workers, according to a <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/deep-end-wall-street/">report I authored</a> for the Institute for Policy Studies.</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="350" width="600"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="350" width="600" typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/story_images/16785968365_0285d19eba_o.png" /></div><p>Low-wage workers across multiple sectors are demanding a raise in the minimum wage to $15 per hour and are organizing <a href="http://april15.org/">“Fight for $15” actions</a> around the country on April 15. While $15 is more than double the current federal minimum of $7.25, the size of the Wall Street bonus pool puts these figures in perspective.</p><p>Consider this: the bonus pool is so large it would be far more than enough to lift all 2.9 million restaurant servers and bartenders, all 1.5 million home health and personal care aides, or all 2.2 million fast food preparation and serving workers up to $15 per hour.</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="350" width="600"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="350" width="600" typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/story_images/16785968405_4566a37073_o.png" /></div><p>While millions of low-wage workers are taking care of our basic human needs, Wall Streeters continue to be rewarded for high-risk behaviors that endanger the entire economy. And that’s not the only price we pay for our lopsided compensation system. Because the very rich squirrel away much of their income, their gigantic bonuses don’t have nearly the stimulus effect as raising pay for low-wage workers who have to spend nearly every dollar they make.</p><p>Based on standard fiscal multipliers, if the $28.5 billion in Wall Street bonuses had gone to minimum wage workers instead, our GDP would be expected to grow by about $34 billion, over triple the $11 billion boost expected from the Wall Street bonuses.</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="350" width="600"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="350" width="600" typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/story_images/16166032243_55da4d9f2d_o.png" /></div><p>What can be done? Well, on top of raising the minimum wage, it would be nice if regulators would stop dragging their feet and finally implement modest Wall Street pay reforms in the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation. For nearly five years now they have stalled the part of that law that prohibits financial industry pay packages that encourage “inappropriate risks.”</p><p>In 2011, regulators issued a wimpy <a href="http://fortunedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/34-64140.pdf">proposal</a> that <a href="http://fortune.com/2014/10/27/the-london-whale-sized-loopholes-in-wall-street-pay-reform/">ignores key lessons</a> from the last half-dozen years of financial scandals. It leaves off the hook traders and other non-executive employees whose activities could put the financial system at risk. And for the top brass, the only restriction is that they would have to wait three years to collect half their annual bonuses. <a href="http://ourfinancialsecurity.org/blogs/wp-content/ourfinancialsecurity.org/uploads/2014/09/AFR-956-Comment-Letter-9.18.14.pdf">Americans for Financial Reform</a> has put forward detailed proposals for strengthening the regulation.</p><p>We don’t know yet whether last year’s Wall Street bonuses were based on high-risk gambles that could eventually ruin our economy. What is clear is that we’re unfairly rewarding the people whose work we couldn’t do without, such as feeding us and taking care of our disabled and elderly.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1033130'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1033130" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 11:55:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, AlterNet 1033130 at https://www.alternet.org Labor Economy Labor wall street workers minimum wage salary These Companies Paid Their CEOs More Than They Pay in Taxes https://www.alternet.org/corporate-accountability-and-workplace/these-companies-paid-their-ceos-more-they-pay-taxes <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Adding insult to injury, there&#039;s hardly any transparency from public corporations on how much taxes they actually pay. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_142163770-edited.jpg?itok=XwSW7Xpo" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Of the 30 largest U.S. corporations, seven paid their CEO more last year than they paid Uncle Sam.</p><p>All seven—Boeing, Ford Motors, Chevron, Citigroup, Verizon, J.P. Morgan, and General Motors—had strong U.S. profits in 2013. And yet thanks to various tax credits, loopholes, and deductions, each reported getting more money back from the U.S. government than they paid in federal income taxes.</p><p>CEO pay at the seven firms ranged from $9.1 million for Daniel Ackerson at GM to $23.3 million for Jim McNerney at Boeing.</p><p>These figures are from <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/fleecing-uncle-sam/%20%E2%80%8E" target="_blank">a new report</a> I co-authored by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Effective Government, the third in a series on corporations that paid their CEO more than they reported paying in federal income taxes.</p><p>As in years past, the corporate flacks have come out swinging, but in sort of a kindergarten wiffle ball style.</p><p>First, all of the companies proudly deny having broken any laws. We never accused them of criminality. The problem is that tax-dodging that should be criminal currently isn’t.</p><p>The second rebuttal tactic is to claim that the firm pays just oodles and oodles of taxes worldwide. But when asked to separate out how much they pay the U.S. Treasury versus state or foreign governments, they refuse. Verizon, for example, told <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/news/seven-big-u-companies-paid-053220279.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory&amp;soc_trk=tw" target="_blank">Reuters</a> that it paid $422 million in income taxes in 2013, but “we do not provide a breakdown.” Our report focuses on federal taxes because they happen to be the focus of congressional debate.</p><p>Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers told <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/when-companies-pay-ceos-more-than-uncle-sam/" target="_blank">CBS News</a> that their total tax expense in 2013 was $1.6 billion, “but much of that is deferred.” We don’t include deferred taxes in our calculations because many firms, particularly large ones that have amassed significant profits in overseas tax havens, can defer these taxes indefinitely. The foreign earnings of U.S. corporations are only taxed in the United States if they are repatriated.</p><p>Some have also questioned the source of our tax data. Like <a href="http://www.ctj.org/corporatetaxdodgers/sorrystateofcorptaxes.pdf" target="_blank">Citizens for Tax Justice</a> and many other reputable research groups, we rely on the number public corporations report to the SEC in their 10-K forms for current taxes paid. The figure is what company accountants expect the firm pay when they file their tax return, which they prepare several months later. This is the only available information on corporate income taxes broken down by federal, state, and foreign governments, and we stand by it.</p><p>At the same time, we’d be very pleased if corporations would voluntarily reveal the precise tax payment figure from their IRS returns (Line 31 of Form 1120). So far, none have done so.</p><p>We’d be even more pleased if public corporations were required to report how much they’re paying in taxes —in the United States and other countries—as well as an explanation of why their U.S. tax payment may be less than the statutory 35 percent. We know large corporations <a href="http://www.ctj.org/corporatetaxdodgers/sorrystateofcorptaxes.pdf" target="_blank">pay much less</a> on average, but figuring out exactly why is next to impossible.</p><p>Some companies would scream privacy invasion, but publicly traded corporations already must report detailed financial information to the SEC. And at a time when taxpayers are footing the bill for massive corporate tax breaks, privacy doesn’t seem the overriding issue.</p><p>In the lame-duck session, Congress is considering the renewal of a package of tax breaks known as the “extenders.” The House already passed one bill to permanently extend a business tax credit—at a cost of <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/113/saphr4438r_20140506.pdf" target="_blank">more than $500 billion</a> over the next decade.</p><p>Today’s debate over corporate tax disclosure reminds me of the historical debate over CEO pay disclosure. In 1936, corporate critics of the initial SEC executive pay disclosure rules claimed that any public interest in executive salaries amounted to “<a href="http://lawreview.richmond.edu/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Wells-442-JB.pdf" target="_blank">criminal curiosity</a>.”</p><p>About a decade ago, when the SEC required more detailed, standardized reporting, business groups again objected. Today, while debates over CEO pay practices continue to rage, squabbles over accurate numbers have all but disappeared.</p><p>Polls suggest a strong public appetite for more information on corporate taxes. When <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/168521/taxes-rise-half-say-middle-income-pay.aspx" target="_blank">Gallup</a> asked Americans if corporations are “paying their fair share in federal taxes, paying too much or paying too little,” two-thirds said “too little.”</p><p>A <a href="http://www.americansfortaxfairness.org/files/ATF-Oct-2013-Poll-Toplines.pdf" target="_blank">Hart Research Associates poll</a> found that 67 percent of voters believe “we should end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs and profits offshore and level the playing field for small businesses that create jobs in America.”</p><p>Indeed, smaller corporations stand to gain the most from greater clarity over which companies pay how much and where. As the <a href="http://mainstreetalliance.org/6189/what-nfibs-study-on-effective-tax-rates-really-tells-us-about-small-business-priorities-for-tax-reform/" target="_blank">Main Street Alliance has pointed out</a>, it’s America’s largest corporations that are able to take greatest advantage of tax havens and many other loopholes designed to benefit mega-firms.</p><p>As with CEO pay, increased disclosure wouldn’t end the battles over corporate tax policy. But at least we could move past the bickering over the numbers and have a better-informed debate over a central issue in our economic future.</p><p> </p> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 08:42:00 -0800 Sarah Anderson, Institute for Policy Studies 1027307 at https://www.alternet.org Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace Economy corporations tax breaks Food Chain CEOs Want Subsidies for Their Salaries, But Are Against Raising Workers' Wages https://www.alternet.org/economy/food-chain-ceos-want-subsidies-their-salaries-are-against-raising-workers-wages <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '983835'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=983835" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">There&#039;s injustice inside your Chipotle burrito bowl and your Starbucks latte. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/800px-chipotle_mexican_grill.jpg?itok=b28eluH7" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>You might say the chieftains of America’s largest restaurant corporations want it every which way and then some.</p><p>Having read the polls supporting a minimum wage hike, they’re skittish about trashing the idea personally. So they pay their DC lobby machine to do their dirty work. And it’s not enough for them to shove the costs of their low-wage model onto Joe Schmo taxpayer. These CEOs are also making the rest of us pay for their own fat paychecks.</p><p>How’s that again? Yes, ordinary taxpayers are not only covering the cost of <a href="http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/publiccosts/fast_food_poverty_wages.pdf">billions of dollars in public assistance</a> for restaurant workers who earn poverty wages. We’re also subsidizing the pay of our nation’s notoriously overpaid CEOs.</p><p>Here’s how it works: Under the current tax code, corporations can deduct no more than $1 million for executive pay from their federal income taxes. But there’s a giant loophole that allows unlimited deductions for “performance pay.” So, no surprise, what the big corporations tend to do is put about $1 million of their executive pay packages toward salary and call the rest “performance pay.” That way the more they shovel into their CEO’s pockets, the less they pay Uncle Sam. And the rest of us foot the bill.</p><p>A <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/restaurant_industry_pay/">new report</a> I co-authored at the Institute for Policy Studies explains how the 20 largest corporate members of the National Restaurant Association have benefited from this loophole. These corporations aren’t necessarily bigger exploiters than those in other sectors. But they deserve extra scrutiny because of the high social costs of their low-wage model—and because they’re fighting so hard to preserve it.</p><p>Nearly all of the big restaurant corporations are members of the National Restaurant Association, which is leading the charge against minimum wage increases.</p><p><strong>1. Starbucks</strong></p><p>In 2012 and 2013, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz took in $1.5 million per year in salary, which is subject to the $1 million deductibility cap. But that was just the foam on top of a triple venti.</p><p>Now we get to the serious money. Schultz cashed in stock options worth $230 million over this two-year period. For good measure, the board tossed him $2 million-plus incentive bonuses each year. Both of these types of compensation fall into the “performance pay” loophole.</p><p>So how much does Starbucks get to subtract from its tax bill for the cost of this one guy’s “performance pay”? $82 million.</p><p>That’s a lotta lattes.</p><p>Like several other big restaurant CEOs, Schultz has <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2014/03/19/news/companies/schultz-minimum-wage/">taken a soft line</a> on the minimum wage. That is, when asked about it personally. Meanwhile, Starbucks remains a member in good standing of the National Restaurant Association, which is deploying dozens of lobbyists to block a wage increase. </p><p><strong>2. Yum! Brands</strong></p><p>Next time you’re shelling out for a Gordita Supreme at Taco Bell, keep in mind that you’re also contributing to a grande-sized paycheck for the CEO of the chain’s parent company, Yum! Brands. </p><p>Yum! CEO David Novak took $67 million in “performance pay” over the years 2012 and 2013, which lowered the firm’s federal tax bill by about $23 million.</p><p>Low-level workers at Taco Bell and Yum!’s other chains (Pizza Hut and KFC) earn <a href="http://www.thewire.com/business/2013/03/starbucks-higher-minimum-wage/63397/">less than $8 per hour on average</a>. Since that’s not a living wage anywhere in the United States, it’s no surprise that many Yum! workers must rely on Medicaid or other taxpayer-funded anti-poverty programs to make ends meet. The <a href="http://www.nelp.org/page/-/rtmw/uploads/NELP-Super-Sizing-Public-Costs-Fast-Food-Report.pdf?nocdn=1">National Employment Law Project</a> estimates that Yum! employees receive nearly $650 million in public assistance annually.</p><p>In addition to the firm’s membership in the NRA, Yum! has also been active with the <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/American_Legislative_Exchange_Council" title="American Legislative Exchange Council">American Legislative Exchange Council</a>. In 2011, a Yum! official <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/YUM!_Brands">co-led an ALEC task force</a> focused on blocking paid sick leave benefits. Rather than giving sick employees a break, it seems they’d rather have them sneezing on your Gordita.</p><p><strong>3. Chipotle</strong></p><p>Chipotle has invested heavily in developing a progressive customer base by projecting <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/09/chipotle-commercial-sustainable-food-truth">the image of</a> a “sustainable” fast food alternative. So it’s not surprising that the firm’s top brass have shied away from speaking out personally against the popular push to raise the minimum wage.</p><p>Co-CEO Monty Moran <a href="http://blogs.marketwatch.com/behindthestorefront/2014/01/31/chipotle-says-it-could-afford-a-minimum-wage-hike-as-it-signals-possible-price-rise/">has commented</a> that average wages at Chipotle are already $9 and so the effect of raising the minimum to $10 would be “not too significant.” Like other image-conscious CEOs, Moran appears to prefer to have his Washington lobby shop, the NRA, handle the dirty work on this issue.</p><p>Moran is probably also reluctant to draw attention to his own paycheck. The company has an extremely top-heavy pay structure in part because it has two CEOs. In 2012, Moran cashed $55 million in stock options and his co-CEO, Steve Ells, cashed in $47 million. In 2013, both men received more than $20 million in vested performance stock and Ells exercised another $42 million in options. Altogether, their 2012-2013 “performance pay” generated a CEO pay subsidy for Chipotle of $69 million.</p><p><strong>4. Dunkin’ Brands</strong></p><p>At the helm of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins, CEO Nigel Travis cashed in on more than $20 million in stock options in both 2012 and 2013, generating a performance pay tax subsidy for the company of more than $15 million. For comparison’s sake, that $15 million would be enough to cover the cost of one public assistance program on which many fast food workers rely, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, for 9,608 households for a year.</p><p>Like the CEOs of Starbucks and Chipotle, Travis has taken a soft line on the minimum wage when speaking out personally. In one <a href="http://nbr.com/2014/01/14/transcript-tuesday-january-14-2014/">recent interview</a>, he said, “We believe the minimum wage will go up. So there’s no point fighting that.” Maybe there’s no point for Travis. He’s got the NRA to do that job.</p><p><strong>5. McDonald’s</strong></p><p>In his first six months as CEO in 2012, CEO Donald Thompson took in more than $10 million in “performance pay,” which translates into a $3.5 million subsidy for the company. Last year, Thompson’s haul was more modest because he opted not to cash in any of his hundreds of thousands of exercisable “in-the-money” stock options.</p><p>Faced with a wave of worker protest actions, he may have decided to hold off on a big payout until the spotlight on the fast food giant is not quite so bright. On top of growing demands for living wages, the company has also faced a spate of wage theft charges. In 2013, the company settled a New York case for <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/18/us-mcdonalds-settlement-wages-idUSBREA2H1TK20140318">$500,000</a> and workers in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/14/business/mcdonalds-workers-in-three-states-file-suits-claiming-underpayment.html?_r=0">two additional states</a> recently filed similar suits. Due to the company’s notoriously low wages, McDonald’s workers rely on an estimated $1.2 billion in public assistance per year, according to the <a href="http://www.nelp.org/page/-/rtmw/uploads/NELP-Super-Sizing-Public-Costs-Fast-Food-Report.pdf?nocdn=1">National Employment Law Project</a>.</p><p><strong>6. Darden</strong></p><p>Among full-service restaurant chains, Darden has enjoyed the largest CEO pay subsidy. The owner of Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, and Capital Grille, Darden is the world’s largest full-service restaurant company. In 2012 and 2013, CEO Clarence Otis received nearly $9 million in fully deductible “performance pay,” which works out to a more than $3 million taxpayer subsidy for the company.</p><p>Darden pays at least <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/blog/darden_corporation">20 percent</a> of its U.S. employees only the federal minimum wage for tipped workers, which has remained at $2.13 an hour for more than 20 years. Together with the NRA, they’re lobbying hard to keep it that way.</p><p>The NRA will be among the targets of a <a href="http://rocunited.org/event/battle-for-the-capitol-tell-congress-to-stop-taking-theothernras-corporate-cash/">demonstration</a> organized by several grassroots organizations on April 28 under the theme of “kicking corporate cash out of Congress.”</p><p>Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which has built a network of thousands of restaurant workers and high-road employers to improve industry standards, is partnering with the National Domestic Workers Alliance and National People’s Action to urge elected officials to put the interests of regular people first. The following day, members of the NRA will converge in Washington for a major lobby push against increasing the minimum wage. </p><p>It’s time the big restaurant CEOs were called out on their paycheck hypocrisy. For too long they’ve been sticking taxpayers with the bill for their bad pay practices —at both the bottom and the top ends of the corporate ladder.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '983835'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=983835" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 05:53:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, AlterNet 983835 at https://www.alternet.org Economy Economy Labor america american legislative exchange council business ceo Clarence Otis Co-CEO Company Affiliates congress David Novak donald thompson Employment compensation executive pay Food and drink food industry Howard Schultz Institute for Policy Studies Joe Schmo labor living wage management Massive CEO Monty Moran National Domestic Workers Alliance National People National Restaurant Association new york Nigel Travis olive garden Person Career Quotation recruitment Restaurant Corporations Restaurant Opportunities Centers United starbucks steve ells USD united states washington YUM! Brands executive food alternative food giant food workers low-wage model official restaurant CEOs Ferrari and Yacht Dealers Rejoice! Wall Street Hands Out Even More Obscene Bonuses Than Last Year` https://www.alternet.org/ferrari-and-yacht-dealers-rejoice-wall-street-hands-out-even-more-obscene-bonuses-last-year <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">If the $26.7 billion in bonuses had instead gone to minimum wage workers, our economy would be expected to grow by about $32.3 billion</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/05bead30df07187ea8ee883746ab42b48f3ca42a.jpg?itok=CtgS2VYV" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Purveyors of Ferraris and high-end Swiss watches keep their fingers crossed toward the end of each calendar year, hoping that the big Wall Street banks will be generous with their annual cash bonuses.</p><p>New figures show that the bonus bonanza of 2013 didn’t disappoint. According to the New York State Comptroller’s office, Wall Street firms handed out $26.7 billion in bonuses to their 165,200 employees last year, up 15 percent over the previous year. That’s their <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-12/wall-street-bonuses-grew-15-in-new-york-dinapoli-says.html">third-largest haul on record</a>.</p><div><p>That money will no doubt boost sales of luxury goods. Just imagine how much greater the economic benefit would be if that same amount of money had gone into the pockets of minimum-wage workers.</p><p>The $26.7 billion Wall Streeters pocketed in bonuses would cover the cost of more than doubling the paychecks for all of the 1,085,000 Americans who work full-time at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.</p><p>And boosting their pay in that way would give our economy much more bang for the buck. That’s because low-wage workers tend to spend nearly every dollar they make to meet their basic needs. The wealthy can afford to squirrel away a much greater share of their earnings.</p><p>When low-wage workers spend their money at the grocery store or on utility bills, this cash ripples through the economy. According to my <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/wall_street_bonuses_and_the_minimum_wage">new report</a>, every extra dollar going into the pockets of low-wage workers adds about $1.21 to the national economy. Every extra dollar a high-income American makes, by contrast, only adds about 39 cents to the gross domestic product (GDP).</p><p>And these pennies add up.</p><p>If the $26.7 billion Wall Streeters pulled in on their bonuses last year had instead gone to minimum wage workers, our economy would be expected to grow by about $32.3 billion — more than triple the $10.4 billion boost expected from the Wall Street bonuses.</p><p>This immense GDP differential only speaks to one price we pay for Wall Street’s bonus reward culture. Huge bonuses, the 2008 financial industry meltdown made clear, create an incentive for high-risk behaviors that endanger the entire economy.</p><p>And yet, nearly four years after passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform, regulators still haven’t implemented the modest provisions in that law to prohibit financial industry pay that encourages “inappropriate risk.” Time will tell whether last year’s Wall Street bonuses were <a href="http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2009/02/taleb-attacks-wall-street-bonuses.html">based on high-risk gambles</a> that will eventually blow up in our faces.</p><p>Low-wage jobs, on the other hand, endanger nothing. The people who harvest, prepare, and serve our food, the folks who keep our hotels clean, and the workers who care for our elderly all provide crucial services. They deserve much higher rewards.</p></div><p> </p> Wed, 12 Mar 2014 12:48:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, Other Words 969476 at https://www.alternet.org bonuses And the Oscar for Most Brilliant Activism by Hollywood Celebrity Goes to ... 'Flesh-Eating Zombies on Wall St.' https://www.alternet.org/activism/and-oscar-most-brilliant-activism-hollywood-celebrity-goes-flesh-eating-zombies-wall-st <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '959731'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=959731" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Andrew Lincoln of popular show, &#039;The Walking Dead&#039; has a hilarious new video attacking the greed of our financial system. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/richzombie.jpg?itok=sgZQ7kbe" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The Harry Potter director and five movie stars have just <a href="http://www.robinhoodpetition.org/">released a new advocacy video</a>. Can you guess the cause célèbre? Stray dogs in Sochi? No. Victims of the latest natural disaster? No. Raising taxes? Yes.</p><p>For their courage in promoting the least sexy of all topics, the Academy will be honoring them with the Oscar for best celebvocacy short. Or at least they should be, if such a category existed.</p><p>One of the actors in the video is Andrew Lincoln of the AMC series “The Walking Dead,” in which he fights flesh-eating zombies. By participating in this project, Lincoln is taking on an even more formidable adversary: Wall Street.</p><p>The setting is a newscast in the year 2024, looking back at the impact of a financial transaction tax on stock and derivatives trading. In real life, 11 European governments are aiming to finalize the details of such a tax in the coming months – in the face of intense opposition from Wall Street lobbyists and their allies across the pond.</p><p>But in the video, Lincoln anchors a panel of bankers from Germany, France, and Spain who have come to love the tax. Even at a small fraction of a percent on each trade, it has generated enough money for their countries to boost public services and programs to fight global poverty and climate change.</p><p>Meanwhile, a British banker, played by Bill Nighy (you’ll recognize him from “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” with Judi Dench, "Love, Actually" and many other films), becomes increasingly agitated by all the plaudits. His country, you see, never adopted the tax. </p><p>Now we need an American version of the video. While the big economies of continental Europe are moving ahead with this tool for curbing short-term speculation and raising much-needed revenue, the United States, like the UK, is being held hostage by its financial sector.</p><p>Let’s see, what Hollywood star could we get to play the short-sighted banker? Michael Douglas didn’t mind exposing Wall Street greed as Gordon Gekko. Kevin Spacey lifted the veil on the financial casino in Margin Call. Or perhaps Leonardo DiCaprio would like to play the wolf against Wall Street?</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '959731'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=959731" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 17 Feb 2014 12:58:00 -0800 Sarah Anderson, AlterNet 959731 at https://www.alternet.org Activism Activism zombie How Fast Food Giants Use Loopholes to Avoid taxes, Pay Execs Giant Pay, and the Workers Peanuts https://www.alternet.org/food/how-fast-food-giants-gorge-govt-subsidies-rake-monster-profits <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Thanks to a loophole that subsidizes CEO pay, huge food chains trimmed millions from their tax bills in 2011 and 2012.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_106778468.jpg?itok=ItX9Q_MQ" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><div><p>The fast food industry is notorious for handing out lean paychecks to their burger flippers and fat ones to their CEOs. What’s less well-known is that taxpayers are actually subsidizing fast food incomes at both the bottom — and top — of the industry.</p><p>Take, for example, Yum Brands, which operates the Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut chains. Wages for the corporation’s nearly 380,000 U.S. workers are so low that many of them have to turn to taxpayer-funded anti-poverty programs just to get by. The <a href="http://www.nelp.org/page/-/rtmw/uploads/NELP-Super-Sizing-Public-Costs-Fast-Food-Report.pdf?nocdn=1" target="_blank">National Employment Law Project</a> estimates that Yum Brands’ workers draw nearly $650 million in Medicaid and other public assistance annually.</p><p>Meanwhile, at the top end of the company’s pay ladder, CEO David Novak pocketed $94 million over the years 2011 and 2012 in stock options gains, bonuses and other so-called “performance pay.” That was a nice windfall for him, but a big burden for the rest of us taxpayers.</p><p>Under the current tax code, corporations can deduct unlimited amounts of such “performance pay” from their federal income taxes. In other words, the more corporations pay their CEO, the lower their tax burden. Novak’s $94 million payout, for example, lowered YUM’s IRS bill by $33 million. Guess who makes up the difference?</p><p>Combined, these firms’ CEOs pocketed more than $183 million in fully deductible “performance pay” in 2011 and 2012, lowering their companies’ IRS bills by an estimated $64 million. To put that figure in perspective, it would be enough to cover the <a href="http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/avg-monthly-food-stamp-benefits/" target="_blank">average cost</a> of food stamps for 40,000 American families for a year.My new <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/fast-food_ceos_rake_in_taxpayer-subsidized_payhttp:/www.ips-dc.org/reports/fast-food_ceos_rake_in_taxpayer-subsidized_pay" target="_blank">Institute for Policy Studies report</a> calculates the cost to taxpayers of this “performance pay” loophole at all of the top six publicly held fast food chains — McDonald’s, Yum, Wendy’s, Burger King, Domino’s, and Dunkin’ Brands.</p><p>After Yum, McDonald’s received the second-largest government handout for their executive pay. James Skinner, as CEO in 2011 and the first half of 2012, pocketed $31 million in exercised stock options and other fully deductible “performance pay.” Incoming CEO Donald Thompson took in $10 million in performance pay in his first six months on the job. Skinner and Thompson’s combined performance pay translates into a $14 million taxpayer subsidy for McDonald’s.</p><p>What makes all this even more galling is that these fast food giants are pocketing massive taxpayer subsidies for their CEO pay while fighting to keep their workers’ wages at rock bottom. All of the big fast food corporations are members of the National Restaurant Association, which is aggressively working to block a raise in the federal minimum wage to a level that would let millions of fast food workers to make ends meet without public support.</p><p>There’s an easy solution to the perverse “performance pay” loophole. A bill introduced by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) would simply set a firm $1 million cap for executive pay deductions — with no exceptions. Corporations could still pay their CEOs whatever they choose, but at least taxpayers wouldn’t be subsidizing anything above $1 million. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates this legislation would generate more than <a href="http://www.reed.senate.gov/news/release/reed-blumenthal-introduce-the-stop-subsidizing-multimillion-dollar-corporate-bonuses-act" target="_blank">$50 billion over 10 years</a>.</p><p>It makes no sense for employees of highly profitable giant corporations to have to rely on government assistance for basic needs. It makes even less sense for ordinary taxpayers to subsidize the CEOs who are benefiting most from the fast food industry’s low-road business model.</p><p>With Congress again mulling deficit-reduction strategies, it’s high time that Washington stopped letting fast food giants gorge on both of these absurd subsidies.</p></div><p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and is the author of the new report <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/fast-food_ceos_rake_in_taxpayer-subsidized_pay" target="_blank">Fast Food CEOs Rake in Taxpayer-Funded Pay</a>.</p> </div></div></div> Mon, 02 Dec 2013 14:02:00 -0800 Sarah Anderson, OtherWords 931412 at https://www.alternet.org Food Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace Food ceo pay Filthy Rich CEOs Are Lobbying to Cut Medicare, Social Security and Push the Retirement Age Back https://www.alternet.org/economy/ceos-against-grandmas <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The loudest calls for Social Security cuts are coming from CEOs who will never have to worry about their own retirement security.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/greedyceo.jpg?itok=aIJgEWyX" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><div class="article_insert_separator"><strong>The following originally appeared on <a href="http://otherwords.org/ceos-grandmas/" target="_blank">OtherWords</a>, and is cross-posted here with permission.</strong></div><p>David Cote, the CEO of Honeywell, has more than $134 million in his personal retirement fund. If I were sitting on a nest egg that big, I might feel a bit sheepish about telling ordinary grandmas and grandpas to take a cut in their Social Security payments.</p><p>But Cote — and leaders of many other large corporations — don’t see it that way. In fact, as Congress prepares for yet another budget showdown at the end of the year, the loudest calls for Social Security cuts are coming from CEOs who will never have to worry about their own retirement security.</p><p>Two lobby groups have organized CEOs into an austerity army. One is the Fix the Debt campaign, which is spending tens of millions of dollars on slick PR tactics to garner public support for cutting popular programs like Social Security and Medicare. More than 135 chief executives have signed up as Fix the Debt spokespeople.</p><p>The other is the Business Roundtable, a 40-year-old club for about 200 of America’s most powerful CEOs. The Roundtable doesn’t sugarcoat. They want everybody to <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505146_162-57564374/">work until age 70</a> before they can get Social Security.</p><p>Like Cote, these are people who are sitting on massive nest eggs of their own. According to <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/platinum_plated_pensions">a new report</a> by my organization, the Institute for Policy Studies, and the Center for Effective Government, Business Roundtable CEOs have retirement accounts worth $14.5 million on average. That’s enough to generate a monthly retirement check of $86,043 starting at age 65. By contrast, the average monthly Social Security check is only $1,237.</p><p>Many of these CEOs are also shortchanging their own workers’ pension funds. General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, for example, has made his employees’ future less secure by building up a nearly $22.6 billion deficit in the company’s retirement fund.</p><p>Why do CEOs with platinum pensions care so much about cutting Social Security? The CEOs claim it’s all about patriotism. “As an American,” Cote says, “I couldn’t know about this problem and not try to do something about it.” As the Baby Boom generation ages, Cote says, we’re facing a “demographic time bomb.”</p><p>There’s a raging debate among economists about whether we’re really facing a bomb or if this is just another phony crisis. What’s clear is there are far more effective ways to ensure Social Security’s sustainability than cutting benefits.</p><p>One of the most effective ways would be to lift the cap on wages subject to Social Security taxes. Right now, just the first $113,700 of an American worker’s wage income is subject to this 12.4 percent payroll tax. The <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/11/21/why-rich-guys-want-to-raise-the-retirement-age/">Congressional Budget Office estimates</a> that if this cap were eliminated, it would do reduce Social Security’s projected shortfall by three times as much as raising the retirement age to 70.</p><p>It’s not hard to figure out why these powerful CEOs aren’t supporting that change. They’d have to pay way more into the system. For example, Cote received an unusually large cash payout in 2011 of $25.1 million. If the cap didn’t exist, he would’ve paid $2.6 million in Social Security taxes instead of the maximum for that year of $11,107.</p><p>If these CEOs were truly patriotic, they’d work to ensure a dignified retirement for all their fellow Americans.</p> Wed, 20 Nov 2013 14:05:00 -0800 Sarah Anderson, OtherWords 926873 at https://www.alternet.org Economy Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace Economy Labor honeywell business roundtable social security retirement aging medicare budget cuts How Progressives Won Four Important Victories in 10 Days https://www.alternet.org/activism/how-progressives-won-four-important-victories-10-days <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '899149'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=899149" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Are there some lessons here for future fights? </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/victory_0.jpg?itok=yHpiIee4" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Progressives won big in four arenas over the past two weeks. They played key roles in stopping a military strike on Syria, defeating Larry Summers’s bid to head the Fed, winning basic protections for 1.9 million home health care workers, and forcing companies to disclose the gap between their CEO and worker pay.</p><p>Were the stars just aligned for once? Or are there some lessons here for future fights? Here are some thoughts from four Institute for Policy Studies analysts and activists.</p><p><strong>1.    Stopping U.S. military strikes on Syria</strong></p><p>It is a huge victory that the United States is not bombing Syria right now. If not for the huge mobilization of anti-war pressure on the president and especially on Congress, things would have turned out very differently. It was what the<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/syria-situation-further-strains-obamas-relationship-with-the-antiwar-movement/2013/09/13/06c9b0f2-1bb9-11e3-a628-7e6dde8f889d_story_1.html" target="_blank">Washington Post</a> called a “test of the strength of the anti-war movement in the Obama era.”  We’ve failed earlier tests – Guantanamo, Afghanistan, the expanded drone war, Libya… But this time, yes – we passed the test.</p><p>First the British parliament, facing a cavalcade of protest from our friends in the <a href="http://www.stopwar.org.uk/statements/syria" target="_blank">Stop the War coalition</a> and beyond, unexpectedly stood up to pressure from their conservative prime minister, voting against a US strike. That turned everything around. Suddenly President Obama – who had been prepared to go to war illegally without the UN, without NATO, without the Arab League – was apparently not quite ready to go to war without the Brits. His decision to ask Congress for authorization to use military force against Syria set the stage for a resurgent anti-war movement that cohered quickly, re-energizing long-time peace activists and pulling in new constituencies from those mobilizing for economic justice, women’s rights, immigration, labor and beyond.</p><p>We were everywhere – and we kept the focus on Congress. We were inside and outside the Capitol, in raucous protests outside and in one-on-one meetings with Members, in church basements and on <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3wIkADabpU&amp;feature=youtu.be" target="_blank">world-wide television</a>. We didn’t worry about organizational forms or creating new coalitions. We just went to work. Organizing groups like <a href="http://www.peace-action.org/" target="_blank">Peace Action</a>,<a href="http://ggjalliance.org/bombingsyriaisnottheanswer" target="_blank">Grassroots Global Justice</a>, <a href="http://fcnl.org/issues/middle_east/faq_on_syria/" target="_blank">Friends Committee on National Legislation</a>, <a href="http://codepink.org/section.php?id=487" target="_blank">Code Pink</a>, <a href="http://www.winwithoutwar.org/blog/entry/syria" target="_blank">Win Without War</a>, <a href="http://pac.petitions.moveon.org/sign/join-rep-alan-grayson-1?source=none&amp;fb_test=0" target="_blank">MoveOn</a>, <a href="http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/" target="_blank">Just Foreign Policy</a>, and others led campaigns that were agile and focused. Analysts from IPS and other groups helped frame the debate through <a href="http://www.democracynow.org/2013/8/28/as_strikes_on_syria_loom_is" target="_blank">media work</a>, <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/articles/talking_points_why_we_shouldnt_attack_syria" target="_blank">talking points</a>, <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/articles/joint_statement_jackson_bennis_syria" target="_blank">statements</a>, and <a href="http://front.moveon.org/moveon-syria-town-hall/#.Ujuqh43D_CY" target="_blank">teach-ins</a>.</p><p>The overall strategy was go broad, keep the inside and outside work coherent, don’t spent a lot of time trying to organize big demonstrations, and keep the focus on Congress. And it worked. Our pressure made Congress scared of antagonizing their anti-war base – and thus unwilling to support military strikes. The White House has enormous power to shape the narrative, to control the media, and to bully Congress. They tried to do all that, but they failed.</p><p>Celebrations should perhaps be muted – the threat of US military strikes remains, and Syria's brutal civil war is far from over. But this is an extraordinary, unforeseen victory for the global anti-war movement.</p><p><strong>2. Defeating Larry Summers</strong></p><p>The victory in knocking Larry Summers out of the running for Fed chair is connected to the Syria victory. Summers saw the writing on the wall when Obama couldn’t line up progressive Democrats behind a Syria attack. How could the president possibly hold the party line on an unpopular Fed nomination?</p><p>But the fact that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/16/larry-summers-federal-reserve_n_3935861.html?utm_hp_ref=tw" target="_blank">at least five key Democratic Senators</a> were reportedly prepared to vote against a former top advisor to both Presidents Clinton and Obama was the culmination of years of work by various segments of the progressive movement.</p><p>Over two decades, Summers received regular job promotions despite his knack for offending women’s, environmental, racial justice, global poverty -- well, pretty much every group on the progressive side. Many of these groups were involved in petitions and other tactics to squash Summers’s nomination.</p><p>For the Senate Democrats, though, most damning was Summers’s role in the 1990s financial deregulation. According to former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind, the former Treasury Secretary used his well-developed intimidation skills to make sure no one in the current administration <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-bottari/failing-up-to-the-fed-a-r_b_3859965.html" target="_blank">admitted that Clinton era mistakes</a> had contributed to the 2008 crisis. But nervy progressive leaders refused to let Summers get away with burying his past -- even if speaking out might mean fewer invitations to meetings at the White House and Treasury.</p><p>Public Citizen set up a bare-knuckled attack site (<a href="http://forgetlarry.org/" target="_blank">ForgetLarry.Org</a>) and generated thousands of petition signatures against his nomination. Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, churned out a relentless stream of criticism, from Summers’s mishandling of the 1990s global financial crisis to his failure to spot the $8 trillion housing bubble. Baker and more than 500 other economists signed an Institute for Women’s Policy Research <a href="http://www.iwpr.org/publications/public-policy-economists-yellen-letter" target="_blank">letter supporting alternative candidate Janet Yellen</a>.</p><p>Obama claimed such attacks were biased. “Don’t believe everything you read in the Huffington Post,” he <a href="https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/08/01-2" target="_blank">reportedly told</a>members of Congress. In the end, though, it seemed the message got through. The office of Montana Democrat Jon Tester (by no means the most radical member of the Senate Banking Committee) echoed long-time progressive critics in a<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/13/us-usa-fed-summers-tester-idUSBRE98C0W620130913" target="_blank">statement</a> explaining his opposition: “Senator Tester is concerned about Mr. Summers's history of helping to deregulate financial markets.”</p><p><strong>3. Advancing 1.9 million workers’ rights</strong></p><p>On September 17, President Obama and Labor Secretary Tom Perez announced that in-home care workers will no longer be excluded from minimum wage and overtime protections.</p><p>This is not only a victory for the millions of hardworking caregivers, mostly women, who are struggling to get by. It’s also a victory for families. Every eight seconds another American turns 65. By improving job quality, these new protections will reduce turnover and lead to improved care for seniors and people with disabilities, allowing more of them to remain in their homes and communities, rather than institutions.</p><p>The Obama administration was able to make this happen through regulatory action, specifically by closing the “companionship exemption” loophole in the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. But even though Congressional approval was not needed, victory had still been elusive. President Obama announced his intention to correct this unfair carve-out in 2011, but it still took relentless advocacy on the part of home care workers and their allies to keep the momentum going.</p><p>Home care agencies mobilized employer opposition during the public comment period after the Labor Department released the proposed rule. But progressive groups, particularly the broad coalition Caring Across Generations (spearheaded by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Jobs with Justice), countered by organizing high-road employers who supported the rule because of the long-term benefits it will bring. The Labor Department received more than 26,000 public comments on the proposed regulations and a whopping 80 percent were in favor.</p><p>The final rule issued this week allows employers to put off implementation until January 2015. That’s a long time to wait for the right to basic labor protections, but this is still a major victory for progressives, workers, and families. </p><p><strong>4. Forcing Corporations to disclose their CEO-worker pay ratio</strong></p><p>The Securities and Exchange Commission <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-17/ceo-to-worker-pay-ratio-disclosure-proposal-to-be-issued-by-sec.html" target="_blank">has just formally proposed</a> a new rule that requires America’s top firms to annually reveal the ratio between what they pay their CEOs and what they pay their most typical workers.</p><p>That pay gap has exploded over the past three decades. Big-time CEOs made 40 times average U.S. worker pay in 1980. The current gap: 354 times. But the new SEC rule now gives shareholders, consumers, and workers what they’ve never had: the ability to compare individual corporations by their level of CEO greed and grasping. More important still: This disclosure sets the foundation for follow-up action. With ratio disclosure in effect, for instance, lawmakers could offer corporations with narrow pay gaps preferential treatment on taxes and government contracts.</p><p>America’s corporate power suits, naturally, have opposed pay ratio disclosure ever since analysts at IPS and other groups<a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/ending-plutocracy-12-step-program#axzz2fNog7KqU" target="_blank">first began pushing</a> for it. But in 2010 corporate lobbyists let down their guard, at the eleventh hour, and let slip into the massive Dodd-Frank financial reform bill a provision that mandated disclosure. Corporate America immediately began a full-court press on the SEC, demanding watered-down regulations that would leave the mandate an effective dead-letter.</p><p>But labor and public interest groups pushed back. The SEC received over 20,000 public comment letters and coalition representatives from Americans for Financial Reform met with SEC officials to give this citizen pressure a human face.</p><p>In the end, the rule the SEC adopted reflected almost all the key recommendations advanced by the AFL-CIO, Public Citizen, and other reform-minded groups. The SEC must by law hold another round of public comment — but we can take lessons from the victory so far. The most important: Progressive Americans can shove egalitarian policy options onto the nation’s political center stage. In this case, the shoving included <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/executive-excess-2013" target="_blank">20 years</a> of annual reports on executive pay from IPS and allied groups, extensive handholding to help mainstream reporters understand why corporate pay gaps matter so deeply, and constant outreach to identify and support sympathetic legislative and regulatory officials.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '899149'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=899149" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 20 Sep 2013 09:29:00 -0700 Phyllis Bennis, Sarah Anderson, Tiffany Williams, Sam Pizzigati, AlterNet 899149 at https://www.alternet.org Activism Activism Economy World military strike syria progressives larry summers ceo worker pay labor workers' rights How Highly Paid CEOs Rip Off Their Companies and the Public Via Fraud and Walk Away With Their Pockets Bulging https://www.alternet.org/corporate-accountability-and-workplace/how-highly-paid-ceos-rip-their-companies-and-public-fraud-and <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '888223'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=888223" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Just one example of a corporate culture that rewards executives for behavior that hurts workers, taxpayers, and shareholders.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/greedy.jpg?itok=WMYED4TW" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>After exposing CEO scoundrels for 20 years, it’s hard to keep them all straight. The guy who cooked the books to buy a golden shower curtain blends together with the one who used ill-gotten Iraq war windfalls to pay for his wife’s racehorses and plastic surgery and the one who cashed in on subprime mortgages and sailed off on a yacht before the bubble burst.</p><p>But then you stumble into a story that makes you realize you can still get riled up. At first you tell yourself it’s not breaking news and nobody will care so just forget about it. But then you find yourself fuming about it to your husband over breakfast. And then you’re grousing about it over drinks with your friends. And then you decide you have to write about it.</p><p>For me, this is the Charles Heimbold Jr. story.</p><p>Now some may say this story stuck in my craw because Heimbold obtained a position I covet: U.S. ambassador to Sweden. Serving my country and my grandfather’s beautiful homeland while grazing on magnificent smorgasbords—that’s a gig I’d love.</p><p>But unfortunately the way to get those gigs seems to be to pay politicians more money than I’ll ever have. That’s what Heimbold did. As CEO of pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb, Heimbold contributed $<a href="http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2001-05-04-envoy.htm" target="_blank">367,200</a> to Republican candidates or campaign organizations in the 2000 election cycle. By September 2001, he was President George W. Bush’s man in Stockholm.</p><p>But that’s not what got me riled.</p><p>While Heimbold was enjoying the Land of the Midnight Sun, federal agents were combing through the books at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Something was fishy.</p><p>The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department eventually accused the company of various accounting tricks to boost earnings and stock prices. Bristol-Myers Squibb settled their SEC case with a payment of <a href="http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2004-105.htm" target="_blank">$150 million</a>. The Justice Department agreed to defer prosecution (essentially putting the firm on probation) as part of a deal in which company executives forked over an additional <a href="http://www.forbes.com/2005/06/16/bmy-settlement-governance-cx_da_0616topnews.html" target="_blank">$300 million</a> and promised to be good boys in the future.</p><p>The <em>Wall Street Journal </em>reported in December 2002 that 27 current and former Bristol-Myers Squibb executives had said the accounting tricks were carried out under strong pressure to meet Heimbold’s high earnings targets.</p><p>Those tricks appear to have paid off well for the former CEO. A perennial pay leader, in 2001 alone Heimbold cashed in <a href="http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/14272/000091205702013817/a2072380zdef14a.htm" target="_blank">$70 million in stock options</a>. What would those options have been worth had Bristol-Myers Squibb not been cooking the books? We’ll never know. We do know he was never forced to pay back a dime.</p><p>Heimbold’s story is actually not that uncommon. In a report I co-authored at the Institute for Policy Studies, we analyzed 18 extremely highly paid CEOs who led companies that had to shell out more than $100 million in fraud-related settlements. Eleven of the CEOs had left their firms before the fraud charges were fully resolved.</p><p>This finding is part of a larger IPS “performance review” of CEOs who made the annual top 25 highest-paid lists over the past 20 years. Theoretically, these CEOs should be the cream of the crop of American corporate leadership. But instead of stellar performance, we found that nearly 40 percent were bad performers -- even by the most narrow, incontrovertible definitions.</p><p>Twenty-two percent led firms that crashed or got bailed out in the 2008 crisis. Another eight percent had to pay massive settlements for fraud. And yet another eight percent wound up getting fired. Even the guys who got the boot didn’t suffer too much. The size of their average golden parachute: $48 million.</p><p>And so the Heimbold story is just one example of a corporate culture that rewards executives for behavior that winds up hurting workers, taxpayers, and shareholders. Unless we change that culture, we’ll see many more CEOs take the money and run.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '888223'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=888223" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 27 Aug 2013 10:24:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, AlterNet 888223 at https://www.alternet.org Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace Economy economy election george w. bush Stockholm Securities and Exchange Commission justice department stock ceo Bristol-Myers Squibb With Inequality Spiraling Out of Control It's Insane to Consider Cutting Social Security https://www.alternet.org/hard-times-usa/inequality-spiraling-out-control-its-insane-consider-cutting-social-security <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '809885'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=809885" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The United States already has a poverty rate among the elderly of 24 percent. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_130135037.jpg?itok=2rQ2AKsw" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Rhonda Straw is one of millions of Americans who do important work every day but still have a hard time saving for retirement. As a home health aide, Straw administers medication, changes bandages, and performs other vital services to the elderly and disabled. With an hourly wage of only $9, Straw, 51, expects to rely almost entirely on Social Security when she retires.</p><p>Unfortunately, workers like Straw aren’t big players in the Social Security debate. The Business Roundtable, the club for America’s most powerful corporate CEOs, is using its muscle to push for an increase in the retirement age to 70 and to recalculate inflation in a way that would further reduce benefits. Fix the Debt is another CEO-driven outfit that’s throwing around tens of millions of dollars in a campaign to cut Social Security and Medicare.</p><div class="wp-caption alignright" id="attachment_15093" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0.5em; padding-right: 0.5em; padding-bottom: 0.5em; padding-left: 0.5em; display: inline; float: right; max-width: 100%; height: auto; text-align: center; width: 170px; "><a href="http://otherwords.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/social-security-hemsley-ceo.jpg" style="color: rgb(51, 102, 153); text-decoration: none; background-color: inherit; "><img alt="social-security-hemsley-ceo" class="wp-image-15093 " src="http://otherwords.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/social-security-hemsley-ceo-160x300.jpg" style="border-top-width: 1px; border-right-width: 1px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-left-width: 1px; border-style: initial; border-color: initial; border-top-style: solid; border-right-style: solid; border-bottom-style: solid; border-left-style: solid; border-width: initial; border-color: initial; margin-top: 5px; margin-right: 0.25em; margin-bottom: 0.25em; margin-left: 0.25em; border-top-color: rgb(204, 204, 204); border-right-color: rgb(204, 204, 204); border-bottom-color: rgb(204, 204, 204); border-left-color: rgb(204, 204, 204); padding-top: 2px; padding-right: 2px; padding-bottom: 2px; padding-left: 2px; box-sizing: border-box; " /></a><p class="wp-caption-text" style="margin-top: -0.4em; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 0.8em; color: rgb(102, 102, 102); ">Institute for Policy Studies infographic</p></div><p>Compared to ordinary workers like Rhonda Straw, these CEOs have virtually no skin in the Social Security debate. To illustrate the disparity, we compared her situation to that of two health industry CEOs who are active with both the Business Roundtable and Fix the Debt.</p><p>Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS Caremark, the nation’s largest drug retailer, has $46 million in employer-provided retirement benefits. Stephen Hemsley, the head of the leading insurance company UnitedHealth Group, has accumulated $18 million. If the reforms they advocate are approved, Merlo and Hemsley stand to lose only 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent of their expected retirement income.</p><p>By contrast, Straw would likely lose nearly 16 percent of her retirement income under the reforms.</p><p>In the richest country in the world, it’s downright insane to even consider cutting back on benefits necessary to provide a dignified retirement for hard-working Americans.</p><p>The United States already has a poverty rate among the elderly of 24 percent. That puts us much closer to our southern neighbor Mexico, which has a 28 percent rate, than our northern neighbor, Canada, where only 6 percent of the elderly live in poverty.</p><p>If we’re serious about preserving Social Security for years to come, there are far more sensible approaches. One practical step would be to eliminate the cap on wages subject to Social Security taxes. Currently, the first $110,100 of an American worker’s wage income is subject to a 10.4 percent Social Security tax. This means that CEOs who make exorbitant pay stop paying into the system shortly after New Year’s Day.</p><p><br />The <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/11/16/1208701/democratic-senator-introduces-bill-to-lift-social-securitys-tax-cap-extend-its-solvency-for-decades/" style="color: rgb(51, 102, 153); text-decoration: none; ">Congressional Research Service</a> has determined that such a reform would eliminate 95 percent of the expected Social Security shortfall over the next 75 years.Honeywell CEO David Cote, for example, paid only about $11,107 into the system last year. If the cap were lifted, he would have paid $2.6 million in Social Security taxes. And Cote could well afford it. He already has $25.1 million in his company retirement fund.</p><p>Next time you see one of these CEOs on TV lecturing about belt-tightening, keep in mind who’s talking. The stakes in this debate are extremely high for ordinary Americans who work hard every day but still have to worry about their retirement security. For CEOs with mega-million retirement funds, there’s not much to lose.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '809885'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=809885" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 15 Mar 2013 11:18:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, AlterNet 809885 at https://www.alternet.org Hard Times USA Economy Hard Times USA Labor Occupy Wall Street social security economy austerians 4 Modest Wishes for New Treasury Secretary Jack Lew https://www.alternet.org/economy/4-modest-wishes-new-treasury-secretary-jack-lew <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '773849'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=773849" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> I can only hope that the incoming Secretary may learn a few lessons from his predecessor’s shortcomings.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/110510_jack_lew_ap_605.jpg?itok=zVSQQIPV" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p> </p><p>I happily joined the more than 200,000 people who’ve signed the “Paul Krugman for Treasury Secretary” progressive fantasy <a href="http://signon.org/thanks.html?petition_id=33135&amp;from_source=none&amp;id=-6801709-%3Dsd%3DVR" target="_blank">petition</a>. It was a clever way to tell the administration to reject this nutty austerity craze.</p><p>Now, however, President Obama has made the far less exciting choice of his Chief of Staff, Jack Lew, for the job. And especially given the experience with Timothy Geithner over the past four years, it’s time to develop some more modest wishes for the new top dog at 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue.</p><p>1. If you were complicit in the 2008 crash, please fess up and make a convincing case that you’ve seen the light.</p><p>Lew was the chief operating officer of Citigroup's Alternative Investments unit from 2006 through the crash (he left in 2009) and he should reveal more about what he did there. This should also apply to other top Treasury leaders. Since Lew, a former head of the Office on Management and Budget, is considered more of a budget guy than a financial markets guy, there are <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-03/geithner-said-to-plan-departure-before-debt-ceiling-deal.html" target="_blank">rumors</a> that President Obama is planning to install a Wall Street executive as his deputy.</p><p>When Geithner was up for confirmation in 2009, Senator Carl Levin asked him to respond in writing to <a href="http://www.levin.senate.gov/.../PSI.GeithnerResponses.012209.pdf" target="_blank">38 hard-hitting questions</a>. Many of his answers were the evasive inanities you’d expect from someone trying to squeak through a polarized Senate (e.g., “I believe that we need more transparency to promote transparency…”). But the only questions he flat out refused to answer had to do with his role in the Clinton Treasury’s push to deregulate over-the-counter derivatives. The law that resulted, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, gave rise to the explosion of credit default swaps that were a key factor in the crash.</p><p>We should’ve known then that Geithner was insufficiently reformed. In fact recently he was back at it, exempting <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-11-16/u-dot-s-dot-treasury-exempts-foreign-exchange-swaps-from-dodd-frank" target="_blank">foreign exchange derivatives</a> from the new Dodd-Frank regulations over the objections of other regulators and consumer protection groups.</p><p>2. If you oppose a popular progressive reform, have the decency to explain your position.</p><p>The current deficit fixation could be turned into an opportunity for bold, creative thinking on how to use fiscal policy to shift our economy in ways that would make it more equitable, green, and secure. At the <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/not-broke-2012" target="_blank">Institute for Policy Studies</a>, we’ve compiled a long list of fair and environmentally friendly proposals that could generate hundreds of billions in additional money per year.</p><p>One of our favorites is the idea of a small financial transaction tax that could raise massive revenue while discouraging short-term financial speculation. Over the past four years, much of Obama’s core base – including major labor unions and environmental, anti-poverty, public health, and consumer organizations – have been pushing for such taxes. The <a href="http://www.imf.org/external/np/seminars/eng/2010/paris/pdf/090110.pdf" target="_blank">International Monetary Fund</a> has documented that they are administratively feasible and could be a significant revenue raiser. The European Commission has also produced reams of analysis on the potential benefits, prompting a <a href="http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/european-union-parliament-landslide-vote-robin-hood-financial-transactions-tax" target="_blank">dozen European governments</a> to commit to implementing such taxes this year.</p><p>Here’s Geithner’s <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&amp;sid=a45uxLtxi3N8&amp;pos=3" target="_blank">most substantive public statement</a> on the issue:  “I have not seen the version of that that I think works.” The Obama Treasury has never published a research paper on the topic. Never offered a thoughtful response to the IMF and European Commission analyses. Never engaged in a meaningful debate. Never even responded to the many civil society letters calling for such taxes.</p><p>So Mr. Lew, if you’re confirmed, please at least be open to a respectful dialogue over this and other bold progressive tax and financial reform ideas.</p><p>3. Please don’t help rich people and corporations hide their money in overseas tax havens.</p><p>In Geithner’s response to Senator Levin’s questions, he pledged to “treat the offshore tax abuse issue as a high priority.” Behind closed doors, he has reportedly advocated a shift to a <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/ceo-campaign-to-fix-the-debt" target="_blank">“territorial” tax system</a> that would exempt U.S. corporations’ foreign earnings, giving them even more incentive to disguise U.S. profits as income earned in tax havens. In his most recent book, Bob Woodward wrote that in negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner, Geithner said “The goal is territorial.” Boehner’s staff <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/82894_Page2.html" target="_blank">confirmed the accuracy</a> of the quote.</p><p>As a Senator, Obama co-sponsored legislation with Levin to crack down on tax haven abuse – a practice that drains an estimated $100 billion per year from Uncle Sam’s coffers. Fixing the problem would also help level the playing field for small businesses that provide more than half of U.S. jobs – and don’t have accounts in the Caymans. Mr. Lew, you could help make this a legacy issue for Obama.</p><p>4. Don’t be a jerk to other governments</p><p>Lew doesn’t seem to have much international experience, but he wouldn’t have to do much to improve on the current Secretary’s record. Geithner has sparked animosity by attempting to impose his opposition to some fair taxation ideas on other countries. After receiving a lecture against financial transaction taxes from her U.S. counterpart, the <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/16/us-eurozone-fekter-idUSTRE78F2DM20110916" target="_blank">Austrian finance minister</a> commented dryly, “I found it peculiar that even though the Americans have significantly worse fundamental data than the euro zone that they tell us what we should do and when we make a suggestion ... that they say no straight away.”</p><p>Geithner has also been the main advocate of using U.S. trade agreements to limit other governments’ ability to control volatile financial flows. When more than <a href="http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/policy_research/CapCtrlsLetter.html" target="_blank">250 economists</a> urged the administration to lift current trade restrictions on the use of capital controls, Geithner was dismissive. As a result, U.S. trade officials are pressuring the 10 countries negotiating a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal to give up this legitimate policy tool. By contrast, the International Monetary Fund’s <a href="http://triplecrisis.com/imf-may-be-on-collision-course-with-trade-policy/" target="_blank">new “institutional view”</a> in support of capital controls makes them look like a beacon of enlightenment. Mr. Lew could make sure governments around the world have all the tools they need to prevent financial crisis.</p><p>This humble wish list doesn’t cover every important issue on the next Treasury Secretary’s plate. I haven’t even gotten into the core question of whether he or she will put the interests of ordinary homeowners and Main Street businesses above those of Wall Street. But it has allowed me to get some of my gripes about Geithner off my chest. And I can only hope that the incoming Secretary may learn a few lessons from his predecessor’s shortcomings.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-size: medium; font-family: Georgia, Arial; font-style: italic;">Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the </span><a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/" style="font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" target="_blank"><span style="font-family: Georgia, Arial; font-style: italic;">Institute for Policy Studies</span></a><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-size: medium; font-family: Georgia, Arial; font-style: italic;">.</span></p> </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '773849'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=773849" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 09 Jan 2013 10:27:00 -0800 Sarah Anderson, AlterNet 773849 at https://www.alternet.org Economy Economy News & Politics lew geithner treasury Robin Hood Rising: Grassroots Campaign Spurs EU Parliament to Tax Financial Speculation https://www.alternet.org/world/robin-hood-rising-grassroots-campaign-spurs-eu-parliament-tax-financial-speculation <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">European legislators voted overwhelmingly this week in favor of a tax on financial speculation, which could raise billions of Euros. Could it happen in the United States?</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/hood.jpg?itok=hPx_hPF5" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Under pressure to address a massive deficit, legislators voted overwhelmingly this week in favor of a tax on financial speculation. This really happened, I swear.</p><p>OK, it was in Europe, not the United States. But it could happen here—and it should.</p><p>The vote in the European Parliament on December 10 was the latest in a series of victories by international campaigners for a tax on trades of stocks, bonds, and derivatives. Often called a “Robin Hood Tax,” the goal is to raise massive revenues for urgent needs, such as combating unemployment, global poverty, and climate change.</p><p>A financial transaction tax would also discourage the senseless high frequency trading that now dominates our financial markets. Recently, the chief economist of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the top U.S. derivatives regulator) <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/business/high-speed-trades-hurt-investors-a-study-says.html">found</a> that such trading practices are hurting traditional investors.</p><p>In reaction to the Parliamentary vote, David Hillman, of the U.K. Robin Hood Tax campaign, said that the tax “will raise at least 37 billion euros per year for the countries involved whilst reining in the worst excesses of the financial sector.”</p><p>Nicolas Mombrial, a Brussels-based policy adviser for Oxfam, added that “The European Parliament’s overwhelming support reflects the will of Europe’s people. In cash-strapped times, an financial transactions tax is a no-brainer that is morally right, technically feasible, and economically sound.”</p><p>What the European Parliament specifically voted on was whether to give the green light to a coalition of governments that want to pioneer the tax. The countries that have committed to participate are Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Greece, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Estonia. The Netherlands is interested, too, but they want to negotiate an exemption for their pension funds.</p><p>Not sure Europeans would use this term, but the vote was a slam dunk. Yeas outnumbered nays by a margin of 6-to-1. The next step will be a vote in the European Council, which is likely to happen in early 2013. (On the off chance you’re not an expert on European Union governance structures: the Council represents national governments, while E.U. Parliamentarians are elected directly by voters). Then, participating governments will negotiate the details, working off a proposal for a tax of 0.1 percent on stock and bond trades and 0.01 percent on derivatives.</p><p>Once revenues start rolling into European coffers, policymakers here are likely to take the idea more seriously. But many U.S. progressives aren’t waiting around. A wide range of union, consumer, global health, and environmental groups are pushing for such taxes to be included in the current deficit negotiations. On December 10, National Nurses United, a union representing registered nurses, organized <a href="http://www.nationalnursesunited.org/press/entry/rns-to-hold-candlelight-vigils-protests-in-20-u.s.-cities/">actions in 20 cities</a> to call on Congress to support a Robin Hood Tax.</p><p>Taxing financial speculation is just one step we can take towards re-orienting our national priorities in ways that will be good for people and the planet. At the Institute for Policy Studies, we’ve put together a <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/not-broke-2012">broad agenda</a> of revenue-raisers and spending cuts that would address our current fiscal challenge while helping to make our economy more equitable, green, and secure.</p><p>There’s no denying that our current political divisions make it difficult to get anything done in Washington. But we can learn some lessons from Europeans on consensus-building. Their political spectrum is arguably even wider than ours—from Green and Left parties to hard-core conservatives. And yet the Parliament’s overwhelming vote in favor of financial transaction taxes is a reminder that such divisions can be overcome.</p><hr /><p>Sarah Anderson wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions.  is Global Economy Project Director of the <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/">Institute for Policy Studies</a>. </p><p>Interested?</p><ul><li><a href="http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/9-strategies-to-end-corporate-rule/nurses-fight-for-a-dose-of-tax-justice" title="Nurses Fight for a Dose of Tax Justice">Nurses Fight for a Dose of Tax Justice</a> <br />Before there was Occupy, thousands of nurses were already taking on Wall Street to demand a financial transaction tax.</li><li><a dir="ltr" href="http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/5-ideas-from-detroit">Seeding Small Business: 5 Ideas from Detroit</a><br />Detroit entrepreneurs are learning to rely on each other, finding the seeds of a new economy in resources discarded by corporate America.</li><li><a href="http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/what-about-the-peoples-budget" title="What About the People’s Budget?">What About the People’s Budget?</a><br />There are better—and more fair—budget ideas out there. Why aren’t they being heeded?</li></ul> Thu, 13 Dec 2012 14:58:00 -0800 Sarah Anderson, YES! Magazine 760621 at https://www.alternet.org World Economy World eu robin hood tax Five Job-Destroying CEOs Trying to “Fix” the Debt by Slashing Corporate Taxes and Cutting Social Security Benefits https://www.alternet.org/economy/five-job-destroying-ceos-trying-fix-debt-slashing-corporate-taxes-and-cutting-social <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '757281'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=757281" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Let&#039;s name them and shame them.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/randal.jpg?itok=2aucUjMz" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>In poll after poll, the American people say they are far more concerned about the jobs crisis than the “debt crisis.” A powerful coalition of CEOs says they have an answer for both problems.</p><p>Give us more tax breaks, they say, and we’ll use the money to invest and create jobs. The national economic pie will expand and Uncle Sam will get plenty of the frothy meringue without having to raise tax rates.</p><p>That’s the line of the <a href="http://www.fixthedebt.org/">Fix the Debt</a> campaign. Led by more than 90 CEOs, this turbo-charged PR/lobbying machine is blasting the message that such “pro-growth tax reform” should be a pillar of any deficit deal (along with cuts to benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare).</p><p>And it might be a good line — if not for some pesky real-world facts. You see the same corporations peddling this line have already been paying next to nothing in taxes. And instead of creating jobs, they’ve been destroying them. Here are five examples of job-cutting, tax-dodging CEOs who are leading Fix the Debt.</p><p><strong>1. Randall Stephenson, AT&amp;T</strong></p><p><strong>U.S. jobs destroyed since 2007: 54,000</strong></p><p><strong>Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: 6.3%</strong></p><p>Randall Stephenson presides over the biggest job destroyer among the Fix the Debt corporate supporters, having eliminated 54,000 jobs since 2007. The company also has one of the largest deficits in its worker pension fund — a gaping hole of $10 billion.</p><p>Can Stephenson blame all this belt-tightening on the Tax Man? Not exactly. Over the last three years, AT&amp;T’s tax bills have been miniscule. According to the firm’s own financial reports, they’ve paid Uncle Sam only 6.3 percent on more than $43 billion in profits. If the telecom giant had paid the standard 35 percent corporate tax rate over the last three years, the federal deficit would be $12.5 billion lower.</p><p>So where have AT&amp;T’s profits gone? A huge chunk has landed in Stephenson’s own pension fund. His $47 million AT&amp;T retirement account is the <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/pension-deficit-disorder">third-largest among Fix the Debt CEOs</a>. If converted to an annuity when he hits age 65, it would net him a retirement check of more than a quarter million dollars every month for the rest of his life.</p><p>While his economic future is more than secure, Stephenson emerged <a href="http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2012/11/fiscal-cliff-atts-randall-stephenson-optimistic-after-obama-ceo-confab.html/">from a meeting</a> with President Obama on November 28 “optimistic” about the chances of reforming (i.e., cutting) Social Security as part of a deal to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”</p><p><strong>2. Lowell McAdam, Verizon</strong></p><p><strong>U.S. jobs destroyed since 2007: 30,000</strong></p><p><strong>Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: -3.3%</strong></p><p>Another telecommunications giant, Verizon, is close behind AT&amp;T in the layoff leader race, with 30,000 job cuts since 2007. Like its industry peer AT&amp;T, Verizon also has a big deficit in its pension accounts. It would need to cough up $6 billion to meet its promised pension benefits to employees and another $24 billion to meet promised post-retirement health care benefits.</p><p>Did the blood-sucking IRS leave Verizon no choice but to slash jobs and underfund worker pensions? Far from it. The company actually got money back from Uncle Sam, despite reporting $34 billion in U.S. profits over the last three years. If Verizon had paid the full corporate tax rate of 35 percent, last year’s national deficit would have been $13.1 billion less. Had that amount been used for public education, it could have covered the cost of employing more than 190,000 elementary teachers for a year.</p><p>Verizon’s new CEO, Lowell McAdam, already has $8.7 million in Verizon pension assets, enough to set him up for a $47,834 monthly retirement check. McAdam’s predecessor, Ivan Seidenberg, who has also signed up as a Fix the Debt supporter, retired with more than <a href="http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/732712/000119312512121526/d269615ddef14a.htm#toc269615_21">$70 million in his Verizon retirement package</a>.</p><p><strong>3. David Cote, Honeywell</strong></p><p><strong>U.S. jobs destroyed since 2007: 4,000</strong></p><p><strong>Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: -14.8%</strong></p><p>Honeywell has created 10,000 new jobs since 2007 – outside the United States. At home, the firm has eliminated 4,000 jobs. In July, Honeywell announced it was <a href="http://www.courierpress.com/news/2012/jul/20/honeywell-lay-228-workers-southern-illinois-plant/">closing a Metropolis, Illinois plant</a>, laying off 230 workers, and selling <a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/bain-capital-is-closing-an-illinois-plant-and-shipping-jobs-to-china">another Illinois property, Sensata Technologies, to Bain Capital</a>, Mitt Romney’s old private equity firm. Bain, another Fix the Debt supporter, immediately announced it was closing the 175-worker plant and shipping the jobs to China.</p><p>Are Honeywell’s U.S. job losses the result of Uncle Sam strangling all the life out of the company? Hardly. Over the last three years, the firm has been highly profitable each year, with total U.S. profits of $2.5 billion. And yet Honeywell used deductions, credits, and loopholes to garner refunds totaling $377 million over the last three years – an effective tax rate of negative 14.8 percent. If Honeywell had paid the full 35 percent corporate tax since 2009, the U.S. deficit would have been reduced by $1.3 billion.</p><p>Honeywell is not only near the front of the IRS refund line, it is also among the top recipients of government contracts. In 2011, the firm got $725 million in government deals, making it the 35th-largest federal contractor. Tax refunds go in one pocket, while taxpayer-financed government contracts go in the other.</p><p>Still, Honeywell’s nearly tax-free status hasn’t kept CEO Cote from being one of the most outspoken advocates for more corporate tax cuts. One of his favorite proposals is a shift to a territorial tax system, which would permanently exempt all foreign earnings of U.S. corporations from U.S. income taxes. Cote was one of 12 big company CEOs who <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324595904578119663435483742.html">met with President Obama on November 14</a> to plead for this tax break. Honeywell has more than $8 billion stashed offshore and could receive an immediate tax windfall of more than $2 billion if Congress approved this shift to a “territorial” tax system. According to an <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/ceo-campaign-to-fix-the-debt">Institute for Policy Studies report</a>, Fix the Debt corporations as a whole would stand to gain $134 billion.</p><p>Perhaps even more galling is Cote’s demand for cuts to earned benefit programs. Cote has $78 million in his Honeywell retirement accounts, enough to qualify for monthly retirement checks of $428,000 starting at age 65. In contrast the average retiree receives just $1,237 a month from Social Security.</p><p><strong>4. Kenneth Frazier, Merck</strong></p><p><strong>U.S. jobs destroyed since 2007: 13,000</strong></p><p><strong>Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: 13.2%</strong></p><p>In 2009, Merck merged with Schering Plough to become the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical company. Less than a year later, Merck slashed <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500395_162-6657723.html">15 percent</a> of its workforce, including closing facilities in Miami Lakes, Florida and Cambridge, Massachusetts. All told, between 2007 and 2011, Merck destroyed nearly 25,000 jobs, including at least 13,000 in the United States.</p><p>Merck’s radical downsizing has little to do with burdensome taxes. Between 2009 and 2011, the drug giant paid just 13.2 percent of its $9 billion of U.S. income in federal corporate income taxes. If Merck had paid the full 35 percent rate over the three-year period, the U.S. debt would have been reduced by nearly $2 billion, enough to pay for college scholarships for more than 250,000 students. But that’s not a low enough tax rate for Merck. As a part of Fix the Debt, CEO Kenneth Frazier is telling Congress the prescription to restore the U.S. economy should include a permanent corporate tax holiday for offshore earnings. If Congress fills that prescription, Merck could receive a $15 billion windfall on the $44 billion it has stashed offshore.</p><p><strong>5. Terry Lundgren, Macy’s</strong></p><p><strong>U.S. jobs destroyed since 2007: 7,000</strong></p><p><strong>Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: 20.7%</strong></p><p>Though Macy’s sales have rebounded from their recessionary slump, the department store owner’s workforce is still down by 7,000 compared to 2007. Meanwhile, Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren has seen his pay more than double over the period, from $8.7 million in 2007 to $17.6 million last year. Macy’s has also showered Lundgren with generous retirement benefits, currently worth more than $16.7 million. Over the last three years, Macy’s has taken advantage of various tax credits and deductions to lower its federal income tax rate to 20.7 percent. Lundgren also attended the November 28 meeting with President Obama, where Fix the Debt CEOs pushed cuts to Social Security and Medicare.</p><p><strong>Another Way to Fix the Debt: End Corporate Entitlements, Demand Big Business Pays Its Fair Share</strong></p><p>The five companies profiled here have contributed enormously to the national debt by eliminating livelihoods — together they’ve destroyed 108,000 jobs since 2007 — and through tax-dodging. If they had simply been required to pay the full statutory corporate tax rate of 35 percent, they would’ve paid $48 billion in additional federal income taxes over the last three years. And now these CEOs expect us to fall for their argument that even more tax breaks will be good for American workers.</p><p>There is an entitlement problem at the center of the debt debate — it is the entitlement of CEOs with track records of job destruction and tax dodging lecturing the rest of us on how to fix the debt.  </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><i>Sarah Anderson is Global Economy Project Director and Scott Klinger is an Associate Fellow of the </i><font color="#0000ff"><i><u>Institute for Policy Studies.</u></i></font><i> They are co-authors of the repor</i>t “<font color="#0000ff"><u><a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/pension-deficit-disorder">A Pension Deficit Disorder.</a></u></font>”</p><br /><p style="margin-bottom: 0in"> </p> </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2012 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '757281'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=757281" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 07 Dec 2012 12:37:00 -0800 Sarah Anderson, Scott Klinger, AlterNet 757281 at https://www.alternet.org Economy Economy Occupy Wall Street fix the debt hypocrisy 10 Filthy-Rich, Tax-Dodging Hypocrites Pushing Disastrous Austerity on America https://www.alternet.org/economy/10-filthy-rich-tax-dodging-hypocrites-pushing-disastrous-austerity-america <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '733921'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=733921" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">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.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_83073271_0.jpg?itok=1Rav82i1" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> </p><p>Brace yourself for one of the most aggressive corporate lobbying campaigns of all time. And one of the most hypocritical.</p><p>“<u><a href="http://www.fixthedebt.org/">Fix the Debt</a></u>” is a coalition of more than 80 CEOs who claim they know best how to deal with our nation’s fiscal challenges. The group boasts a <u><a href="http://www.fixthedebt.org/uploads/files/CEO-Talking-Points-10.2.12.doc">$60 million</a></u> budget just for the initial phase of a massive media and lobbying campaign.</p><p>The irony is that CEOs in the coalition’s leadership have been major contributors to the national debt they now claim to know how to fix. These are guys who’ve mastered every tax-dodging trick in the book. And now that they’ve boosted their corporate profits by draining the public treasury, how do they propose we put our fiscal house back in order? By squeezing programs for the poor and elderly, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.</p><p>Fix the Debt claims their agenda is not just about spending cuts. But when it comes to their tax proposals, they use the slippery term “pro-growth reform” to push for cuts in deductions that are likely to include credits for working families and — you guessed it — more corporate tax breaks. Chief among these is a proposal to switch to a <u><a href="http://www.fixthedebt.org/.../The-Debt-Challenge-Presentation.pptx">territorial system</a></u> under which corporate foreign earnings would be permanently exempted (instead of being taxed when they are returned to America).</p><p>This idea, also supported by the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission, would make it even more profitable for big corporations to use accounting tricks to disguise U.S. profits as income earned in tax havens. Citizens for Tax Justice <u><a href="http://www.ctj.org/taxjusticedigest/archive/2012/10/tax_policy_invades_the_foreign.php">estimates</a></u> that such tax haven abuse will cost the Treasury more than $1 trillion over the next decade.</p><p>So who are the CEOs who are telling the rest of us to be responsible and tighten our belts after they’ve spent decades stiffing the U.S. Treasury? Of the 80 members of Fix the Debt’s CEO Fiscal Leadership Council, here are 10 that stand out as the biggest hypocrites:</p><p><strong>1. Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric</strong></p><p>Perhaps no tax-dodging U.S. corporation has done more to drain the U.S. Treasury than General Electric. Over the last 10 years GE reported more than $80 billion in U.S. pre-tax profits and yet paid a federal corporate income tax rate of <u><a href="http://ctj.org/taxjusticedigest/archive/2012/02/press_release_general_electric.php">just 2.3%</a></u>.</p><p>One of GE’s favorite tricks is the “Active Financing Exception.” U.S. corporations are supposed to pay U.S. taxes on interest income earned anywhere in the world. But GE enjoys this special exception for companies that have “captive” foreign finance subsidiaries, such as their credit card arm. The measure was repealed as part of fair taxation reforms in 1986, but GE led a successful lobbying effort to bring it back in 1997. Although the exception was supposed to be temporary, Congress has renewed it six times. And, despite all the public hand-wringing over the deficit, lawmakers are seriously considering extending this and other corporate loopholes before the end of the year.</p><p><strong>2. Jim McNerney, Boeing</strong></p><p>Last year, Boeing was one of 25 major U.S. firms that paid their CEO more than they paid Uncle Sam in corporate income taxes, according to an <u><a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/executive_excess_2012">Institute for Policy Studies report</a></u>. The aerospace giant enjoyed a $605 million tax refund in 2011, despite reporting more than $5 billion in U.S. pre-tax profits. CEO Jim McNerney made $18.4 million in personal compensation. In fact, Boeing is a <u><a href="http://www.ctj.org/pdf/boeing2012.pdf">serial tax dodger</a></u>, having paid federal corporate income taxes in only two of the last 10 years.</p><p>One of the ways Boeing avoids paying taxes is by taking advantage of the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit, which saved the $137 million last year alone. Government investment in basic research is not a bad idea, but current R&amp;D credits are structured in a way that primarily benefits large, well-resourced high-tech firms like Boeing that would probably do the research anyway. CEO McNerney also chairs the Business Roundtable, which aggressively lobbies for more corporate tax breaks.</p><p><strong>3. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs</strong></p><p>Few corporations have been as dependent on U.S. taxpayers for their very existence as Goldman Sachs. The 2008 bailout of <u><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/24/business/economy/24goldman.html?_r=0">American International Group</a></u> and the steady stream of low- and non-interest loans for the financial sector have kept the company alive.</p><p>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 <u><a href="http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/886982/000095012311020067/y88213exv21w1.htm">37 subsidiaries in tax havens</a></u>.</p><p>Blankfein has also used his position at the helm of the Financial Services Forum, a club for the CEOs of 20 top banks, to <u><a href="http://businessroundtable.org/news-center/joint-association-letter-to-secretary-geithner-on-continuing-oppositio/">oppose financial transaction taxes</a></u> -- small levies on trades of stock, derivatives, and other financial instruments. Goldman Sachs has made as much as <u><a href="http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/03/18/ex-goldman-programmer-sentenced-to-8-years-for-theft-of-trading-code/" target="_hplink">$300 million</a></u> per year from the volatile high-frequency trading strategies that would be hardest hit by such a transaction tax. In early October, <u><a href="http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/c5a49c1c-1219-11e2-bbfd-00144feabdc0.html">11 European governments</a></u> announced a plan to implement such taxes, with expected revenues in the neighborhood of $<u><a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/23/eu-tax-idUSB5E8KQ02D20121023">75 billion per year</a></u>. But Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms have blocked U.S. progress on this major revenue-raiser.</p><p><strong>4. Brian T. Moynihan, Bank of America</strong></p><p>After a decade of risky and reckless mortgage lending, Bank of America survived the 2008 financial crash with the help of a<u><a href="http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2009/12/02/bank-of-america-to-repay-45-billion-from-tarp/">$45 billion bailout.</a></u> 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 <u><a href="http://www.gao.gov/assets/290/284522.pdf">115 tax haven subsidiaries</a></u>.</p><p>Last year, after investors saw their stock price decline 58 percent and 30,000 Bank of America employees lost their jobs to layoffs, <u><a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/28/business/la-fi-mo-bank-of-america-moynihan-pay-20120328">CEO Brian Moynihan</a></u> 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.</p><p><strong>5.</strong><strong>David Cote, Honeywell Corporation</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>6. Randall Stephenson, AT&amp;T</strong></p><p>AT&amp;T is another firm that paid its CEO more last year than they paid in federal corporate income taxes. CEO Randall Stephenson made <u><a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/executive_excess_2012">$18.7 million</a></u>, while the firm enjoyed a $420 million refund from Uncle Sam.</p><p>AT&amp;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.</p><p><strong>7. Arne Sorenson, Marriott International</strong></p><p>In 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice prosecuted Marriott International for using an illegal tax shelter swindle dubbed “<u><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/08/opinion/canellos-kleinbard-romney-taxes/index.html">Son of Boss</a></u>.” The scam involved setting up a series of complex paper transactions between company subsidiaries to create $70 million in fake losses that could be offset against Marriott’s real profits. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a long-time friend of the Marriott family and named after Marriott’s patriarch J. Willard Marriott, was the head of the hotel giant’s audit committee in 1994 at the time the board first approved the Son of Boss transaction. According to <u><a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-22/romney-as-auditing-chairman-saw-marriott-son-of-boss-tax-shelter-defy-irs.html">Bloomberg</a></u>, Marriott has also shifted profits to a Luxembourg shell company and avoided hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes through one federal tax credit for so-called synthetic fuel that Senator John McCain dubbed an “expensive hoax.”</p><p><strong>8. Alexander Cutler, Eaton Corporation</strong></p><p>Less than two years after accepting <u><a href="http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2010/06/eaton_breaks_ground_for_170_mi.html">$90 million</a></u> in taxpayer-financed subsidies to locate a new world headquarters in the suburbs of Cleveland, Eaton Corporation announced that it would be moving its headquarters and reincorporating as an Irish company. The move is part of a merger deal with Cooper Industries, another Fix the Debt coalition member. The two companies boast that Eaton’s departure after 100 years in Cleveland will cut their tax bill by <u><a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-21/eaton-expects-160-million-tax-savings-from-ireland-move.html">$160 million</a></u>. Meanwhile, Eaton is fighting a <u><a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-21/eaton-expects-160-million-tax-savings-from-ireland-move.html">$75 million bill</a></u> from the IRS for back taxes and penalties related to alleged violations of transfer pricing agreements.</p><p><strong>9. Lowell McAdam, Verizon</strong></p><p>Verizon is one of 30 companies identified by <u><a href="http://www.ctj.org/corporatetaxdodgers/CorporateTaxDodgersReport.pdf">Citizens for Tax Justice</a></u> as having paid “less than nothing” in federal income taxes over the entire 2008-10 period. Despite earning $32.5 billion in profits during these three years, the firm got so much in tax subsidies that they wound up with a net tax refund of $951 million. That works out to a tax rate of negative 2.9%. In effect, every Verizon phone customer paid more in federal telephone excise taxes than Verizon paid in federal income taxes.</p><p><strong>10. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft</strong></p><p>A recent <u><a href="http://www.hsgac.senate.gov/subcommittees/investigations/hearings/offshore-profit-shifting-and-the-us-tax-code">Senate investigation</a></u> exposed how Microsoft has used Olympic class accounting acrobatics to avoid paying taxes. Specifically, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations charged that the software giant had devised a complicated transfer pricing agreement with a subsidiary in Puerto Rico to lower its tax bill on goods sold in the U.S. market by as much as $4.5 billion from 2009 to 2011. The investigation also accused Microsoft of avoiding billions in U.S. corporate income taxes by shifting royalty revenue to low-tax jurisdictions. Subcommittee Chair Carl Levin described Microsoft’s strategies as “tax alchemy, featuring structures and transactions that require a suspension of disbelief to be accepted.” Such alchemy, while not illegal, is a major contributor to the national debt.</p><p><strong>Sanders to CEOs: Look in the Mirror</strong></p><p>When Fix the Debt launched their 80 CEO-strong coalition on October 25, <u><a href="http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=9D15C4D6-189A-41D6-848B-F07B523C2EEE">Senator Bernie Sanders</a></u> responded by stating, “Before telling us why we should cut Social Security, Medicare and other vitally important programs, these CEOs might want to take a hard look at their responsibility for causing the deficit and this terrible recession.”</p><p>Instead, the Fix the Debt coalition members are portraying themselves as the honorable ones who are brave enough to push the tough austerity medicine that is the only remedy for our fiscal ills. Nonsense. We are the richest nation in the history of the world. Our problem is that too much of our wealth is going into the coffers of rich individuals and corporations and to pay for misguided wars.</p><p>There are numerous budget plans by Senator Sanders, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and others that would get us on the right track. At the <u><a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/america_is_not_broke">Institute for Policy Studies</a></u>, we’ve identified a dozen policies that would collectively raise trillions of dollars to in ways that would not only address the fiscal challenge but help make our economy more equitable, green, and secure. The report also points out that until we recover from the current unemployment crisis, we should not be contemplating any spending cuts that could deepen the crisis.</p><p>The Fix the Debt coalition is using the so-called “fiscal cliff” as an opportunity to push the same old corporate agenda of more tax breaks while shifting the burden on to the middle class and the poor. If America’s CEOs really want to Fix the Debt, they should first commit to eliminating the loopholes that have allowed them to avoid paying their fair share of the cost of government, including investments necessary to keep our families and our communities strong and secure.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><i>Sarah Anderson is Global Economy Project Director and Scott Klinger is an Associate Fellow of the </i><font color="#0000ff"><u><a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/"><i>Institute for Policy Studies</i></a></u></font><i>. </i></p> </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2012 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '733921'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=733921" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 26 Oct 2012 08:00:00 -0700 Sarah Anderson, Scott Klinger, AlterNet 733921 at https://www.alternet.org Economy Economy fix the debt austerity taxes fiscal slope 6 Rigged Rules Corporations Use to Dodge Taxes https://www.alternet.org/story/155007/6_rigged_rules_corporations_use_to_dodge_taxes <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">AT&amp;T, Boeing, Citigroup, Duke Energy and Ford reported more than $20 billion of US pre-tax income last year, but didn&#039;t pay any federal income taxes. Here&#039;s why.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1332421805_taxes.jpg?itok=QFzSbyzD" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>The following article first appeared on the Web site of </em><a href="http://www.thenation.com/"><em>The Nation</em></a><em>. For more great content from the Nation, sign up for its </em><a href="http://www.thenation.com/nation-email-subscription-center"><em>e-mail newsletters here.</em></a><em> </em> </p> <p>As American families rush to complete their annual tax returns, many will have paid more in federal income taxes than some of America’s largest and most profitable corporations. AT&amp;T, Boeing, Citigroup, Duke Energy and Ford collectively reported more than $20 billion of US pre-tax income last year, yet none of them paid a dime in federal income taxes. Instead, they claimed refunds of more than $1.3 billion from the IRS. <br />  <br /> These corporations are not alone in turning tax dodging into a competitive sport. Last year, US corporations paid an effective tax rate of just 12.1 percent, the <a href="http://www.thenation.com/node/SB10001424052970204662204577199492233215330">lowest level in the last forty years</a>, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Sixty years ago, when Republican President Dwight Eisenhower lived in the White House, corporations paid 32 percent of federal government’s tax receipts; last year they paid 9 percent.<br />  <br /> Below are six examples of how large corporations have rigged the tax rules to ensure that those who have the most get to amass even more, at the expense of everyone else. Figuring out how to unrig them is not rocket science, but it will require strong public pressure on lawmakers to ensure that America’s most prosperous corporations pay their fair share.<br /><br /><strong>Boeing’s Double Dip</strong><br />  <br /> In each of the past nine years, Boeing has reported at least $1 billion in pre-tax profits, yet in only one did it pay any US corporate income taxes. In fact, the aerospace giant got so much money in tax subsidies that it had an effective tax rate of -7.8 percent during this period.<br />  <br /> One of the main reasons Boeing has avoided the taxman is that the rest of us subsidize their research and development spending. Last year this amounted to $137 million. Congress first passed the research and experimentation tax credit during the 1981 recession, intending to provide a temporary boost to America’s sagging economy. Though it has expired for short periods over the years, it has been renewed thirteen times, and Congress is presently considering making the tax credit permanent.<br />  <br /> Government investment in basic research and development can be valuable, but the way the current tax credit is structured, much of the support goes to large well-resourced high-tech firms like Boeing that would have conducted the research anyway as a part of maintaining a vibrant business.<br />  <br /> What’s particularly disturbing about the Boeing subsidies, however, is that the company already bills the Pentagon for research costs. The third largest defense contractor, Boeing has landed more than <a href="http://washingtontechnology.com/toplists/top-100-lists/2011.aspx">$54 billion in government contracts in the past nine years</a>. So essentially, taxpayers are paying for the company’s research—twice.<br />  <br /><strong>GE’s Tax-Free Offshore Profits</strong><br />  <br /> General Electric employs <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/business/economy/25tax.html?pagewanted=3&amp;_r=1">975 people</a> to mine the tax code for every possible deduction. One of their IRS returns ran an awe-inspiring <a href="http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/ge-filed-57000-page-tax-return-paid-no-taxes-14-billion-profits_609137.html">57,000 pages</a>. As a result, GE paid an effective tax rate of just <a href="http://ctj.org/taxjusticedigest/archive/2012/02/press_release_general_electric.php">2.3 percent on more than $81 billion</a>of US income over the last decade.<br />  <br /> One of GE’s most lucrative tax breaks is dubbed “the active financing exception.” Under US tax law income earned from interest anywhere in the world is taxable in the United States. That is because interest is consider a “passive business activity” that is easily transferred from country to country. The active financing exception allows corporation that establish captive foreign finance subsidiaries to exclude interest they earn offshore from their US taxes. The 1997 subsidy was meant as a temporary measure to help US banks and manufacturers compete internationally.<br />  <br /> General Electric’s lobbyists, who led the fight to create the subsidy, have made sure the “temporary” part was just a joke. Congress has renewed the exemption multiple times over the last fifteen years. And in the meantime, active financing has allowed GE to legally shift much of its US profits to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/05/opinion/05nocera.html">overseas jurisdictions with lower taxes</a>.<br />  <br /> The active financing exception is one of sixty tax breaks, known as “tax extenders,” that expired last year. Congress is actively <a href="http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/TechnicalLine_BB2279_TaxExtenders_9February2012/$FILE/TechnicalLine_BB2279_TaxExtenders_9February2012.pdf">considering reauthorizing them</a>, even while they also consider dramatic cuts to social programs.  <br /><br /><strong>AIG’s Stealth Bailout</strong><br />  <br /> In 2008, American International Group’s reckless uncovered bets helped lead the global economy to the brink of collapse. Taxpayers bailed out the rogue insurer to the tune of $182 billion.<br />  <br /> Less well-known is a perk the US Treasury made available to AIG that allowed the company to retain its losses to offset against future profits. Tapping these tax losses allowed AIG to report more than $17 billion in tax-free profits in 2011, a move Elizabeth Warren, who chaired the TARP oversight panel, labeled a “stealth bailout.” “When the government bailed out AIG, it should not have allowed the failed insurance giant to duck taxes for years to come,” wrote Warren in a <a href="http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/03/12/bailout-watchdogs-criticize-a-i-g-tax-breaks">statement co-signed by three other panel members</a>.<br />  <br /> “This corporate tax break transfers public money to AIG’s private shareholders and inflates executive pay at AIG—both at the public’s expense,” added Damon Silvers, another member of the oversight panel. At least four of the executives who stand to benefit financially from the tax break were leading the company at the time of the massive failure.<br />  <br /><strong>Apple and Facebook’s Double Books</strong><br />  <br /> Under current rules, companies can show shareholders and the IRS two different sets of books. In financial statements to shareholders, they’re allowed to estimate the value for their executives’ stock options at the time they’re granted. But when it comes to paying their taxes, they can lower their bill by deducting the full value of the options on the day executives cash them in, which is often a much higher figure. This loophole saved Apple $1.5 billion on its taxes between 2008–10, <a href="http://www.ctj.org/corporatetaxdodgers/CorporateTaxDodgersReport.pdf">according to Citizens for Tax Justice</a>, boosting its bottom line and its executive bonuses.<br />  <br /> When Facebook becomes a public company later this year, the stock option deduction will save it an estimated $3 billion on taxes, including an immediate $500 million IRS refund of the taxes it has paid during the last two years.<br />  <br /> The Ending Excessive Corporate Deductions for Stock Options Act (S. 1375) and the Cut Unjustified Tax Loopholes Act (S. 2075), both introduced by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) would close this loophole and limit companies to a tax deduction no greater than the expense they report to shareholders.<br /><strong> <br /> Pfizer Heaves Domestic Profits Overseas</strong><br />  <br /> Pfizer is the largest drug company in the world. It generates 40 percent of its sales in the largest and most lucrative drug market—the United States. And yet Pfizer has reported losses in the US in each of the last four years.<br />  <br /> Pfizer’s tax disclosures offer some clues to how the company achieves this puzzling result. First, it operates eighty subsidiaries in <a href="http://www.gao.gov/assets/290/284522.pdf">offshore tax havens</a>. Second, Pfizer’s 2011 non-US tax rate was a low 14.7 percent, suggesting that they booked a significant portion of overseas profits in tax havens like Luxembourg, Ireland and Jersey, places where Pfizer has at least <a href="http://www.gao.gov/assets/290/284522.pdf">ten subsidiaries each</a>.<br />  <br /> Here’s how these <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-23/tax-shenanigans-turn-u-s-sales-to-foreign-income-with-billions-offshore.html">strategies work</a>. A company like Pfizer conducts the bulk of its product and research development in the United States. This work is done by scientists, many of whom were educated in US schools, often using basic research that was funded by US taxpayers. The corporation then takes the patents earned by its US labs and registers them in nations that impose little or no taxes on income from patent royalties. When Pfizer sells a pill, it charges a lot for the use of the patent, telling the IRS that without the intellectual property, the product would be virtually worthless. By doing this, Pfizer transfers much of their profits to the tax haven, while retaining much of the costs of research, advertising and management in the United States. Such shenanigans cost the US Treasury an estimated <a href="http://www.levin.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/levin-unveils-stop-tax-haven-abuse-act">$100 billion a year</a>.<br />  <br /> A pending bill, the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, would require that offshore subsidiaries managed from the United States and often little more than a post office box and a brass nameplate be treated as US entities for tax purposes.<br /><br /><strong>Bechtel’s “Mini” Masquerade</strong><br />  <br /> Though Bechtel is the world’s largest telecommunications, engineering and construction firm (with $32.9 billion in revenue and 52,700 employees), in terms of corporate structure it is one of America’s largest “small businesses.” That’s because the giant corporation takes advantage of a 1958 law intended to extend limited liability protection to owners of small, family-owned businesses. Companies that qualify for this law’s “S Corporation” status do not have to pay federal corporate income taxes. Instead the company’s profits are reported as personal income by individual owners. While the Bechtel empire was hardly the intended beneficiary, their firm technically qualifies for the S Corporation status because it is family run and has less than 100 shareholders.<br />  <br /> At the time the law was enacted, the wide differential between top corporate tax rates (52 percent) and top individual rates (91 percent) was a disincentive for gaming the system to dodge taxes. Fast forward half a century and top tax rates have collapsed to only 35 percent for corporations and individuals, erasing the previous disincentive for big corporations to change their business status. By incorporating as an S Corporation, enormous businesses like Bechtel pay just individual taxes, rather than having their corporation pay taxes on corporate profits and shareholders pay taxes on their dividends.<br />  <br /> S Corporations, and other businesses where income is taxed only at the individual level, have become the new tax haven, where large businesses have fled to avoid US corporate income taxes. In 2008, more than 14,000 S Corporation tax returns were filed by firms with more than $50 million in revenue, according to the IRS. These 14,000 firms, with an average profit of $6.4 million each, collectively reported <a href="http://www.tax.com/taxcom/taxblog.nsf/0971609221721415852572ac0067c130/d94fb9d1dee0e2bd852578ae0049507e/$FILE/Table%201.pdf">29 percent of the total profit on nearly 4 million S Corporation tax returns</a>. Preserving S Corporation status for real small businesses can help level the playing field, but closing the loophole that allows giant multinational corporations to avoid the corporate taxes that their peers have to pay is key to bringing more fairness to the tax code and more funds into public coffers.<br />  <br /> As the 99% Spring unfolds, restoring fairness to our tax code must be at the center of the debate. As it stands, our tax system rewards those at the top, robbing the rest of us of the public money we need to transform the economy from one that works for the 1 percent to one that works for the 100 percent.<br />  <br /><b><i><br /></i></b></p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and is a co-author of the report "Taxing the Wall Street Casino." Scott Klinger is an Associate Fellow at Institute for Policy Studies. </div></div></div> Mon, 16 Apr 2012 16:00:01 -0700 Sarah Anderson, Scott Klinger, The Nation 670371 at https://www.alternet.org Economy Economy economy taxes Runaway CEO Pay Helped Create the Economic Crisis; So Why Are Politicians Still Covering For Rich Execs? https://www.alternet.org/story/152256/runaway_ceo_pay_helped_create_the_economic_crisis%3B_so_why_are_politicians_still_covering_for_rich_execs <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '667582'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=667582" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A new study looks at the worst executive excesses--while Congress continues to help CEOs hide their outrageous pay rates from the public.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> A global catastrophe occurs. An outraged public shakes pitchforks at the corporate culprits. Lawmakers respond. They propose some modest new laws that require corporations to more fully disclose what they’re doing. Corporate America, unchastened, goes ballistic.</p> <p>Sound familiar? We’ve seen this story play out before. In fact, we’ve seen this story play out after almost every grand corporate catastrophe over the last 80 years.</p> <p>Back in 1933, with the nation still reeling from the stock market crash, President Franklin Roosevelt pushed for legislation that required firms to register securities trades and provide basic financial information. That act eventually passed — over shrill Wall Street opposition. </p> <p>A more modern example? In 1984, a Union Carbide chemical leak killed thousands in India’s Bhopal. U.S. lawmakers had to battle relentless industry opposition before they could pass a right-to-know law on toxic emissions. </p> <p>And now, in 2011, history repeats — over executive pay disclosure rules adopted in the wake of the 2008 financial crash.</p> <p>Runaway executive pay, almost all analysts now believe, played a key driving role in the run-up to the Great Recession. Executive pay excesses, as President Obama has <a target="_blank" href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/RemarksbyPresidentBarackObamaOnExecutiveCompensationSecretaryGeithner">put it</a>, “have contributed to a reckless culture.”</p> <p>Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, this week<a target="_blank" href="http://democrats.oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=5401:cummings-calls-for-oversight-hearings-on-ceo-compensation-&amp;catid=3:press-releases&amp;Itemid=49">called on Republican leaders</a> to hold hearings “to examine the extent to which the problems in CEO compensation that led to the economic crisis continue to exist today.”</p> <p>In part, Cummings wants to look at the status of several CEO compensation-related reporting requirements included in the 2010 Dodd-Frank reform law that are currently under corporate assault. No. 1 on their hit list: a provision that requires U.S. corporations to publicly disclose, on an annual basis, the ratio between their CEO and median employee pay.</p> <p>Given what Congress could have legislated, this most certainly rates as a modest reform. We’re not talking about banning bonuses or even limiting the tax deductibility of executive compensation. We’re just talking disclosure here.</p> <p>Is this too much to ask? Outrageous pay packages, research indicates, encourage outrageous executive behaviors that range from high-risk investing gambles to outsourcing jobs and cooking the corporate books. The wider the pay gap between the guy in the corner suite and that guy’s workers, the lower the workforce morale, the higher the turnover.</p> <p>In other words, the more cash we let corporations stuff in executive pockets at employee expense, the less competitive our corporations become.  </p> <p>The corporate lobby doesn’t see things this way. This past July, the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.centerforcapitalmarkets.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/HR1070_HR1062_HR1082_Bachus_Frank-6.20.2011.pdf">U.S. Chamber of Commerce</a> cheered when the House Financial Services Committee approved a repeal of the Dodd-Frank pay ratio provision. The full House will likely pass the bill early this fall.</p> <p>That would set up a battle in the Senate, where “moderate” Democrats may see CEO-worker pay disclosure as an inconsequential bone they can throw to the rabid anti-Dodd-Frankers.</p> <p>The main corporate argument against the disclosure mandate? Compliance, they declare, would be too burdensome. The<a target="_blank" href="http://www.hrpolicy.org/issues_story.aspx?gid=276&amp;sid=4464&amp;miid=1">association for human resources executives</a> claims: “It is a common misperception that pay information as mandated by Dodd-Frank is ‘available at the touch of a button.’”</p> <p>In other words, corporations that routinely pay CEOs over $10 million a year can’t afford to perform enough arithmetic to know how much their typical employees are making.</p> <p>It seems clear that corporations simply want to avoid embarrassment and public outrage. Our organization, the Institute for Policy Studies, has been able to track national average CEO-worker pay ratios for almost 20 years. Last year, we find in our latest <i><a target="_blank" href="http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/executive_excess_2011_the_massive_ceo_rewards_for_tax_dodging/">Executive Excess<span style="font-style: normal; "> report</span></a></i>, S&amp;P 500 CEOs made 325 times what average American workers made, up from 263-to-1 in 2009. </p> <p>But we’ve never been able to compare individual corporations by this CEO-worker pay benchmark. The new mandate that would make that possible is scheduled to go into effect next year. And corporate lobbyists clearly fear the pending public outrage, just like the chemical companies did in the 1980s when toxics reporting rules were going into effect.</p> <p>Those companies, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.law.fsu.edu/journals/landuse/vol112/wolf.html">notes</a> Public Citizen’s Sidney Wolf, eventually found themselves having to “to promise to meet sharp pollution reduction goals.” That became the only way they could “fend off public outcry.”</p> <p>If CEO-worker pay disclosure should survive the current assault, who knows, maybe corporate boards will finally find enough motivation to rein in toxic levels of executive pay.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Sarah Anderson and Sam Pizzigati are among the coauthors of the new Institute for Policy Studies report, "Executive Excess 2011: The Massive Rewards for Tax Dodging.” </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2011 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '667582'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=667582" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 31 Aug 2011 09:00:01 -0700 Sarah Anderson, Sam Pizzigati, AlterNet 667582 at https://www.alternet.org News & Politics Economy work economy inequality crisis jobs executive pay bonuses Bankers' Pay Still Skyrocketing, as Wall Street's Casino Rolls On https://www.alternet.org/story/149187/bankers%27_pay_still_skyrocketing%2C_as_wall_street%27s_casino_rolls_on <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">While any petty shoplifter or check-bouncer would have to face the prospect of jail time, Countrywide CEO Mozilo thus far has managed to escape criminal charges.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>As a critic of runaway CEO pay, I have a lot of scars from debates I've done on cable TV business shows. But my most memorable pummeling was in August 2007, when I nearly got my head bitten off for criticizing Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo on the CNBC show <em>Squawk Box</em>.</p> <p>My offense? I questioned whether Mozilo really deserved to be the sixth-highest paid CEO in the country, given that the company's sub-prime mortgages were already showing clear signs of toxicity, with skyrocketing foreclosure rates.</p> <p>Suddenly I had show host Carl Quintanilla and the other guests, including David John of the Heritage Foundation, shouting me down, saying that Mozilo had built the company from nothing and shareholders should be happy to give him every penny of his <a href="http://www.otherwords.org/reports/executive_excess_2007">$42.9 million in compensation</a>.</p> <p>Looking back, it's hard to find a clearer example of the business press blindly glorifying highly paid CEOs. As we all know today, Mozilo's reckless subprime adventures were a disaster for the company and the country. Four months after that CNBC show, Countrywide no longer existed. In January 2008, Bank of America agreed to purchase the ravaged lender in a fire sale.</p> <p><em>The</em><em>Washington Post</em> recently published an extensive analysis of how Countrywide's toxic loans continue to poison Bank of America -- and the national economy. Of the 14 million loans Bank of America is managing today, Countrywide originated 10 million. And of those who borrowed from Countrywide, 15 percent are behind on payments, compared with 6 percent for loans that Bank of America originated.</p> <p>Bank of America also had to cough up $43.5 million to settle a Securities and Exchange Commission suit over charges that Mozilo engaged in fraud and insider trading as he tried to hide the signs of the coming crash. Mozilo had to fork over $24 million for his share of the SEC settlement. That's a small fraction of the <a href="http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/st_execpay1007_20100725.html">$529 million he pocketed over the past decade</a>, according to <em>The</em><em>Wall Street Journal</em>.</p> <p>While any petty shoplifter or check-bouncer would have to face the prospect of jail time, Mozilo thus far has managed to escape criminal charges. He's free to spend his remaining ill-gotten loot any way and anywhere he pleases.</p> <p>Countrywide's recklessness also continues to be a drag on federal agencies that purchased or guaranteed their trashy mortgages. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York are among the investors who are demanding that Bank of America repurchase mortgage packages that were based on sloppy paperwork. <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-01/bank-of-america-s-sloppy-prime-mortgages-increase-pressure-for-buybacks.html">More than half</a> of these "buyback" claims stem from mortgages created by Countrywide.</p> <p>It doesn't give me much pleasure to look back at that CNBC show and say "I told you so." It would be different if policymakers had learned from the examples of Mozilo and other Wall Street bandits and cracked down on such pay for plunder practices once and for all.</p> <p>By all accounts, however, financial industry compensation is on track to break a record high this year -- for the second year in a row. For a new generation of Angelo Mozilo wannabes, the sky is still the limit.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and is a co-author of the report Executive Excess 2010: CEO Pay and the Great Recession. </div></div></div> Wed, 15 Dec 2010 06:00:01 -0800 Sarah Anderson, Other Words 664553 at https://www.alternet.org Economy News & Politics Economy bank of america countrywide foreclosures mozilo ceo executive pay Shut Down the Global Financial Casino Where Food Is Traded Like a Poker Chip https://www.alternet.org/story/148872/shut_down_the_global_financial_casino_where_food_is_traded_like_a_poker_chip <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Excessive speculation played a significant role in the 2008 food crisis, when soaring prices pushed 130 million people into hunger in the world&#039;s poorest countries.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>This Thanksgiving, most farmers around my hometown in central Minnesota are celebrating a good harvest. Rain -- for once -- fell at the right time in the right amounts, and prices for many crops grown in Litchfield are high.</p> <p>After yo-yoing up and down for the past several years, corn prices are particularly high. In mid-October, the national average was $4.78 per bushel, up $1.17 from the year before. Corn-Belt families still have to cover the costs of expensive fertilizer and other inputs, but many will be able to enjoy a more bountiful holiday this year.</p> <p>In the long term, however, such drastic price swings are as bad for farmers as they are for consumers. How do you plan for the future? If farmers make plans now to plant more corn next year, the price bubble may pop before they can sell their crops.</p> <p>One reason agricultural commodity prices have been so volatile is the rampant gambling in the futures markets. These markets were originally created to help ensure more stable prices for the actual producers of corn, wheat, milk, and other commodities, as well as food manufacturers, like flour mills and cereal makers.</p> <p>A farmer-owned grain elevator, for example, can use a futures contract like insurance to fix a price for a future sale. This allows them to plan ahead without having to worry about wild price swings.</p> <p>Today, however, the commodities markets are dominated by speculators who have never gotten their hands dirty in a corn field, or come anywhere near a food processing plant. They're simply big-time gamblers, hoping to profit from changes in futures prices.</p> <p>It's now widely recognized that excessive speculation played a significant role in the 2008 food crisis, when soaring prices pushed 130 million people into hunger in the world's poorest countries. Here in the United States, consumers also faced the sharpest increases in grocery prices since 1980. These problems were exacerbated by the dismantling, over the past couple of decades, of programs designed to protect farmers and consumers, such as food reserves, price supports, and import controls.</p> <p>The financial reform bill that became U.S. law in July made some progress in cracking down on speculation. It limits how much a trader can hold in a certain commodity and increases market transparency.</p> <p>However, the new law doesn't address problems with commodity index funds and exchange-traded funds. Institutional investors like pension funds and university endowments have been plowing money into such funds, driving prices artificially high. Then, as we saw with the 2008 crash, speculators can exit in a stampede, causing prices to plummet.</p> <p>A coalition of family farm, faith-based and anti-hunger groups, along with business associations have initiated a campaign to persuade investors to pull out of commodity index funds. Their first target: CALSTRS, the California teachers' retirement system, which had been considering shifting $2.5 billion of their portfolio into commodities.</p> <p>In response to the divestment campaign, the CALSTRS board decided on November 4 to adopt a different strategy. Instead of $2.5 billion, they will invest no more than $150 million in commodities for 18 months, while further studying the potential problems.</p> <p>This is an important step towards shutting down the global financial casino where food is traded like a poker chip. The big-time gamblers should stick to the Las Vegas casinos. Let's keep food where it should be -- on our tables.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Sarah Anderson is the director of the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. </div></div></div> Tue, 16 Nov 2010 05:00:01 -0800 Sarah Anderson, Other Words 664255 at https://www.alternet.org Food Investigations Food Economy corn food prices commodity pricing