October 27, 2012
Sanders Chides Corporate CEOs for Calling on Congress to Cut Programs
by Robert Kropp
The Vermont Senator says that the statement by 80 CEOs fails to account for the role of financial
institutions in causing the recession, and calls instead for a deficit reduction plan in which the
wealthiest pay their fair share of taxes.
This week, 80 of the nation's CEOs traveled to Capitol Hill, "lecturing Congress about the need to
cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, while lowering tax rates for millionaires,
billionaires, and the largest corporations in America," according to Sen. Bernie Sanders on
Vermont in a report entitled Top Corporate
Organized by the Fix the Debt campaign, the CEO statement includes
among its signatories the chief executives of Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase.
The signatories endorsed a recommendation by Senators Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, who
co-chaired a panel convened by President Obama in 2010, calling for three dollars in spending cuts
for every one dollar of increased revenue.
The executives say they fear that a so-called
fiscal cliff, which will occur if Washington does not agree to a deficit reduction plan by the end
of the year, could plunge the nation more deeply into recession. To avoid such a scenario, they
called for reforms in health care spending and Social Security, as well as "comprehensive and
pro-growth tax reform, which broadens the base, lowers rates, raises revenues and reduces the
The CEOs did not specifically include raising historically low tax rates for
the wealthy as part of their proposed solution.
Never one to mince words, Sanders said of
the CEOs' visit to Congress, "There really is no shame. The Wall Street leaders whose recklessness
and illegal behavior caused this terrible recession are now lecturing the American people on the
need for courage to deal with the nation's finances and deficit crisis. 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."
In addition to highlighting the role of financial institutions in the financial crisis and
subsequent recession, Sanders points out that the statement's signatories have outsourced hundreds
to thousands of American jobs to low-wage countries, and "avoided at least $34.5 billion in taxes
by setting up more than 600 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and other offshore tax
havens since 2008."
Many of the companies highlighted by Sanders paid no federal income
tax for at least one year since 2008, receiving $6.4 billion in tax refunds despite earning
billions in profits.
"Our Wall Street friends might also want to show some courage of
their own by suggesting that the wealthiest people in this country, like them, start paying their
fair share of taxes," Sanders said. "They might work to end the outrageous corporate loopholes, tax
havens and outsourcing provisions that their lobbyists have littered throughout the tax code -
contributing greatly to our deficit."
Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee,
has proposed a deficit
reduction plan that includes repealing the Bush-era tax cuts and enacting an emergency tax
surcharge on millionaires; establishing a speculation fee on risky Wall Street transactions; ending
subsidies for fossil fuel industries; and eliminating tax breaks for companies that send jobs