ThinkProgress links to a new report by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Campaign for America’s Future about a group called Fix the Debt, which is made up of the CEOs of many large and powerful corporations. While demanding fiscal responsibility, they all make far more money both personally and for their companies because of tax breaks on their own compensation:
– UnitedHealth Group: This company was at the top of the list, deducting at least $194 million of its total $199 million compensation for CEO Stephen Hemsley during that time period. The report calculates that this works out to a $68 million taxpayer subsidy to UnitedHealth, plus another $10 million tax break for Hemsley’s $28 million performance pay in 2012.
– Discovery Communications: This company came in second, deducting $105 million of a total compensation package of $114 million for CEO David Zaslav from 2009 to 2011. That comes to a $37 million taxpayer subsidy. It got another $9 million tax break for his performance pay in 2012.
– Caesars Entertainment: Even though this company has been losing money in recent years, CEO Gary Loveman made $9.6 million in cash bonuses during that time.
During that three-year period, CEOs and the next three top executives at each of the 90 Fix the Debt corporations were paid a total of $6.3 billion, 75 percent of which was in fully deductible performance pay, equaling $2.7 billion. Depending on how everything was calculated (which is hard to know with current disclosure rules), that comes to about $1.5 million in taxpayer subsidy per executive or $18 million per company.
The group has previously pushed for tax reform that would result in even bigger windfalls for the corporations they represent, potentially netting them $134 billion.
In effect, taxpayers are subsidizing their pay to the tune of about a billion dollars a year. I say we start there.