Nov
25

Austerity For Thee But Not For Me, Inc.

By

Austerity. Just what you wanted for Christmas. From McClatchy:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A group co-founded by Charlottean Erskine Bowles brings its campaign to reduce the federal debt to North Carolina next week, making the state the latest front in the battle to avert the “fiscal cliff.”

Two former governors – Democrat Jim Hunt and Republican Jim Holshouser – will launch Fix the Debt’s N.C. chapter at a news conference Tuesday in Raleigh.

[...]

Fix the Debt was founded by Bowles and Alan Simpson, a former U.S. senator from Wyoming. They chaired the so-called Bowles-Simpson commission that two years ago proposed a package of spending cuts and tax hikes to begin reducing the federal debt, now estimated at over $16 trillion.

If you didn’t see Lloyd Blankfein’s CBS interview a few days ago, it gets better. From Huffington Post, “CEO Council Demands Cuts To Poor, Elderly While Reaping Billions In Government Contracts, Tax Breaks”:


WASHINGTON — The corporate CEOs who have made a high-profile foray into deficit negotiations have themselves been substantially responsible for the size of the deficit they now want closed.

The companies represented by executives working with the Campaign To Fix The Debt have received trillions in federal war contracts, subsidies and bailouts, as well as specialized tax breaks and loopholes that virtually eliminate the companies’ tax bills.

The CEOs are part of a campaign run by the Peter Peterson-backed Center for a Responsible Federal Budget, which plans to spend at least $30 million pushing for a deficit reduction deal in the lame-duck session and beyond.

During the past few days, CEOs belonging to what the campaign calls its CEO Fiscal Leadership Council — most visibly, Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein and Honeywell’s David Cote — have barnstormed the media, making the case that the only way to cut the deficit is to severely scale back social safety-net programs — Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — which would disproportionately impact the poor and the elderly.

But not them or their firms. The HuffPost’s Christina Wilkie and Ryan Grim point to a report by the Institute for Policy Studies that calls Fix the Debt “a Trojan horse for massive corporate tax breaks,” and provides these findings:

  • The 63 Fix the Debt companies that are publicly held stand to gain as much as $134 billion in windfalls if Congress approves one of their main proposals — a “territorial tax system.” Under this system, companies would not have to pay U.S. federal income taxes on foreign earnings when they bring the profits back to the United States.
  • The CEOs backing Fix the Debt personally received a combined total of $41 million in savings last year thanks to the Bush-era tax cuts. The top CEO beneficiary of the Bush tax cuts in 2011, Leon Black of Apollo Global Management, saved $9.9 million on the Bush tax cuts. The private equity fund leader reaped $215 million in taxable income last year just from vested stock.
  • Of the 63 Fix the Debt CEOs at publicly held firms, 24 received more in compensation last year than their corporations paid in federal corporate income taxes. All but six of these firms reported U.S. profits last year.

So the one-time-only Bush repatriation tax holiday (2004) is back again, again. A year ago, NC Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan partnered with Sen. John McCain in an attempt to resurrect the one-time-only scheme one more time. It went nowhere. But their corporate sponsors are persistent little devils. So now repatriation is back re-branded as Fix the Debt’s “territorial tax system.” In addition to the profits mentioned above, the territorial tax system “give companies additional incentives to disguise U.S. profits as income earned in tax havens in order to avoid paying U.S. income taxes.” Not to mention a permanent incentive for moving jobs offshore. Chuck Marr, Director of Federal Tax Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told Jared Bernstein last year, “a dog could figure this out.” [timestamp 4:10]

One imagines the furrowed brows on these bipartisan “Shock Doctrine” lobbyists when confronted about this. Don’t we know how serious the “fiscal cliff” is? Don’t we know they are financial experts? They are rich. They have data. They have studies. They are serious people.

Here’s your real problem, kids. It’s not your numbers or your seriousness. It’s this: We. Don’t. Trust. You.


Comments

  1. Tom Sullivan says:

    James K. Galbraith: “Stripped to essentials, the fiscal cliff is a device constructed to force a rollback of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as the price of avoiding tax increases and disruptive cuts in federal civilian programs and in the military. It was policy-making by hostage-taking, timed for the lame duck session, a contrived crisis, the plain idea now unfolding was to force a stampede.”

    He gives six reasons why the so-called “fiscal cliff” is a scam.

    Thumb up 7

  2. Tom Sullivan says:

    Honeywell CEO and Simpson-Bowles Commission member David Cotes was on Meet the Press today pushing the Grand Bargain again. Nicole Bell links to a David Dayen piece from last summer:

    Honeywell CEO David Cote said yesterday – when his goons weren’t yanking the microphone away from a labor reporter asking a question – that the ideal corporate tax rate should be zero percent:

    SORKIN: David, I have a tax question for you. What do you think the ultimate effective tax rate should be on corporations?

    COTE: Zero.

    SORKIN: Zero?

    COTE: The problem is from a fairness perspective, nobody would be able to stand it. But at the the end of the day, jobs come from companies and if we wanted to create the most effective foreign direct investment pipeline you’ve ever seen, we would have the lowest rate possible.

    So the only barrier to a 0% corporate tax rate, in Cote’s mind, is that the plebeians might have a problem with it. Otherwise, it’s race race race to the bottom.

    That’s about right. Li’l Tom Sawyer won’t be satisfied until workers are paying him to do his work.

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  3. Tom Sullivan says:

    Bernie Sanders today on Bowles (Simpson, too):

    Erskine Bowles has been a board member of Morgan Stanley since 2005 and made a fortune as a Wall Street investment banker as many of you know.

    However, you may not know that Erskine Bowles made the following statement in 2011 at the University of North Carolina: “Paul Ryan is honest, he is straightforward, he is sincere. And the budget that he came forward with is just like Paul Ryan. It is a sensible, straightforward, honest, serious budget and it cut the budget deficit just like we did, by $4 trillion.”

    You may also be unaware that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson endorsed Congressman Charles Bass (R-NH) against progressive Democrat Ann McClane Kuster.

    In their endorsement of Rep. Bass, Bowles and Simpson wrote: “Charlie supported a plan that demonstrated it is possible to raise revenues for deficit reduction through pro-growth tax reforms that reduce tax rates for individuals and businesses. Likewise, it is possible to reform entitlement programs … He is a brave leader who deserves the thanks of everyone who really cares about our nation’s future.”

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  4. TJ says:

    I say we call their bluff. Bring that cliff on…

    If there is one, I wish we could give a nudge and push some of those corp. execs over the edge. Oh. Wait. Sorry, forgot I’m committed to non-violent protest.

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