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.
As part of their push, they are advocating a "territorial tax system"
that would exempt their companies' foreign profits from taxation,
netting them about $134 billion in tax savings, according
to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies titled "The CEO
Campaign to ‘Fix’ the Debt: A Trojan Horse for Massive Corporate Tax
Breaks" -- money that could help pay off the federal budget deficit.
Yet the CEOs are not offering to forgo federal money or pay a higher
tax rate, on their personal income or corporate profits. Instead, council recommendations include cutting "entitlement" programs, as well as what they call "low-priority spending."
Many of the companies recommending austerity would be out of business
without the heavy federal support they get, including Goldman Sachs and
JPMorgan Chase, which both received billions in direct bailout cash,
plus billions more indirectly through AIG and other companies taxpayers