Fiscal Leadership Council and the Cult of Cybele
Fiscal cliff, Taxmageddon, and a committee of CEOs commissioned to assist lawmakers in reducing the deficit is a combination found exclusively in two places: Idiots Guide to Plutocracy and the United States of America. The corporate CEO’s who have made their way into deficit negotiations by way of billionaire and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce under Nixon Peter Peterson’s Campaign to Fix the Debt and it’s self-proclaimed CEO Fiscal Leadership Council all with the obsequious approval of Congress flouts the fact that these same people are substantially responsible for the bloated deficits they are suddenly responsible for trimming.
These guys, 80 plus CEOs from America’s most powerful corporations are charged with the role negotiating a debt deal that continues to provide corporate tax breaks and corporate subsidies while shifting costs to the poor and elderly. The central tenet to their deficit reduction plan is to enact enormous cuts to “social safety-net programs/” It’s bad enough that the banksters and corporate elites at the center of the 2007 financial meltdown have any say at all in fiscal policy. What’s worse is that their recommendations hold real weight with the legislators they are courting, who will, of course, be rewarded handsomely for advancing the campaign’s tax agenda.
The Institute for Policy Studies released a report illustrating how this CEO-led initiative is exploiting the “fiscal cliff” as an opportunity to secure tax-code changes that would result in a multibillion dollar windfall for all 63 corporations represented in the campaign:
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.
Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein and Honeywell’s David Cote have done a tour de force PR campaign advocating massive spending cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as the sole option to reduce the deficit. Cote took to the airwaves in a CBS news interview not only lobbying for “entitlement” cuts and slashing “low priority spending” but in another interview, when asked by CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin what he thought the effective tax rate should be for corporations Cote responded, “zero.”The Huff Post noted that Cote walks the walk and talks the talk:
“At Honeywell, Cote practices what he preaches. Between 2008-2010, the company avoided paying any taxes at all. Instead, the company got taxpayer-funded rebates of $34 million off of profits totaling nearly $5 billion.”
Obama sought advice from Cote on the economy last week.
A look at the campaign’s member corporations, from military contractors GE, Boeing and Textron-some of the biggest recipients of corporate welfare and entirely dependent on Congress and the White House to maintain defense spending that translates into lucrative federal contracts-to the financial powerhouses, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and Bank of America shows the disdain the ruling elites have for those they govern. As the “fiscal leaders” barnstorm the media, a cynical attempt to convince people who aren’t on their corporate boards that they should foot the bill for the federal and corporate largesse that has created this situation, they lift their shoes and tell us we should be honored to taste their soles. As Obama confers with Monsignor Cote, dotes on Bryan Moynihan and gives Lloyd Blankfein carte blanche to voice his vision of how the economy should operate he and the coterie of elites surrounding him and his administration give a warm and sincere fuck you to America’s most vulnerable. This peek into what’s happening behind the “closed door” deficit discussions is a sham. CEO as economic adviser is an incommensurable duality. CEO as policy dictator is more fitting. The priests of Cybele flagellated themselves in violent frenzy before castrating themselves in honor of their goddess. Watching the corporate elites silently as they attempt to hijack fiscal policy once again reminds us that we aren’t too far behind the priests of Cybele.