Here’s a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies that makes for interesting reading. Executive Excess 2012: The CEO Hands in Uncle Sam’s Pocket
In their study of the top paid 100 U.S. chief executives, they found that 26 CEOs took home more pay than their companies paid in taxes. Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, pocketed $18.7 million in 2011 while his company got a tax refund of $420 million.
In 1980, the average CEO of an S&P 500 company took home about 40-times the pay of their average worker. In 2011, they took home 380 times as much pay. Among other interesting findings in the report;
- The CEOs of these 26 firms received $20.4 million in average total compensation last year. That’s a 23 percent increase over the average for last year’s list of 2010′s tax dodging executives
- The four most direct tax subsidies for excessive executive pay cost taxpayers an estimated $14.4 billion per year—$46 for every American man, woman, and child. That amount could also cover the annual cost of hiring 211,732 elementary-school teachers or creating 241,593 clean-energy jobs.
- CEOs have benefited enormously from the Bush tax cuts for upper-income taxpayers. Last year, 57 CEOs saved more than $1 million on their personal income tax bills, thanks to these Bush-era cuts.
The report makes it clear how the good taxpayers of the U.S. subsidize the profits of big business and make bloated CEO compensation possible through our insane tax policies. While we give these companies excessive tax breaks, they use every trick in the book to hide their profits from taxation. The 26 firms profiled in the report have a combined 537 subsidiaries in tax-haven countries such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and Gibraltar. They don’t keep offices there because of the nice weather.
During the Great Depression, Will Rogers said that the “money was all appropriated for the top in hopes that it would trickle down to the needy.” For the last thirty years we have been arguing about the as-yet unseen benefits of supply-side economics. We keep electing the same politicians with the same trickle-down theories over and over. In the Holy name of Ayn Rand, how much richer do Mitt Romney and Goldman-Sachs need to be before the trickle begins?