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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 Tax Dodgers.

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 deficit."

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 overseas.


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