Gramm Decries ‘Exploitation’ of CEO With $158 Million Golden Parachute

Former Sen. Phil Gramm, a lickspittle for the rich if ever there was one, testified in front of the House Financial Services Committee this week and was outraged — slammed the table and everything — that his good friend, former CEO of AT&T, was “exploited” because he only got a $75 million payout when he retired (it was more, actually).

Phil Gramm, a former three-term Republican senator from Texas who once ran the Senate Banking Committee, told the House Financial Services Committee yesterday that “it was an outrage” that his friend Edward Whitacre, the CEO of AT&T, only got “$75 million” when he retired in 2007.

“If there’s ever been an exploited worker” it was Whitacre, said Gramm, testifying on the fifth anniversary of passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. Gramm appeared genuinely aggrieved by Whitacre’s shabby treatment and literally pounded the table while speaking.

Whitacre actually received a retirement package totaling $158 million.

The full statement:

GRAMM: It’s the one form of bigotry that is still allowed in America, and that’s bigotry against the successful … My friend Ed Whitacre at AT&T, if there’s ever been an exploited worker, even though they made a big deal about him getting $75 million when he retired, the man added billions of dollars of value, he was exploited, it was an outrage!

The funny thing is that Gramm was the co-chair of the McCain campaign in 2008, but was forced to resign when he declared that the United States was a “nation of whiners.” Irony!

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  • Synfandel

    A single human being can create only so much value, some more than others. But no human being can create $158 million of value by his own effort. No one could possibly earn anywhere near that much money. Those who get that much money get it because they—or their friends, connections, or class—are the ones who decide who gets what. And most of that money was generated by the effort of others who were correspondingly undercompensated.

  • hamstur

    I had a similar thought. After reading “the man added billions of dollars of value” I though “by himself, right?”

    How about a thought experiment: Take 2 similarly sized large corporations. In the first, fire everyone with a Director title and above. For the other, fire everyone below director. Check back in 6 months or a year. What do you think would happen?

    It’s clear that we culturally over-value leaders as opposed to the workers. What I don’t understand is how come our supposedly smart investor class puts up with grossly over-paid management.

  • Synfandel

    hamstur @2:

    What I don’t understand is how come our supposedly smart investor class puts up with grossly over-paid management.

    Indeed one of most perplexing, and frustrating, mysteries of our time. (I would replace “grossly” with “obscenely.”)

  • stumble

    @2

    The reason why is the nature of corporate boards. Purely as an example without fact checking it…

    Lets say the Board of Ford Motors has 25 board members. Of those one is the CEO/Chairman of the Board, three are Ford family members, and the remaining 21 are the Chairman of the Board of major suppliers and partners. On July 1 Ford offers the CEO a major salary increase which is voted on by the board members… Including the CEO/COB/Ford Board Member for USSteel. On August 1 the CEO of Ford acting as a board member for USSteel votes to increase the salary of the CEO/COB of USSteel.

    Basically while wearing different hats they all vote each other raises and benefits. Anyone who votes against the collective will quickly be eliminated from their own position, and removed from the boards of other companies.

    You have to remember the investor class is almost synonymous with the management class. By the time a CEO steps down from a major company they are often one of its largest shareholders as well.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Now do you see how bad Dodd-Frank is? Now do you see how much the “soak the rich” rage from OWS has damaged America? It’s gotten to the point that someone who retired before either of those things didn’t get the Golden Parachute he’d earned! Thanks, Obama!

  • hamstur

    @4 “You have to remember the investor class is almost synonymous with the management class.”

    That makes sense. Certainly, they would be culturally aligned even if the specific interests didn’t overlap.

    @3 ‘I would replace “grossly” with “obscenely.”’

    I’ll could go with that. Unless, since this is comments section, I’m now obligated to pick a fight with you for contradicting my word choice. If so, um, YER A BIG POOPYHEAD! AND HITLER (for some reason)!

    (Sorry, I’m not very good at this)

  • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

    Is it time for the revolution yet?

    (I’m asking rhetorically, NSA!)

  • tbp1

    I tend to avoid phrases like “lickspittle for the rich” lest I start sounding like a stock character from one of the lesser Bertolt Brecht imitators, but in this case I think it’s perfect.

  • naturalcynic

    Did the cameras show the expressions on the faces of the senators present? If so, the ones who didn’t show a jaw drop, eye roll or derisive laughter should be used as fodder for acs for the next election.

  • naturalcynic

    That’s ads for the next election

  • colnago80

    In all fairness, I don’t have a problem with someone who founded a company getting a generous payout. Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, etc. On the other hand, a hired gun like Whitacre is vastly overpaid by such a payout, regardless of how the company did under his direction.

  • eric

    even though they made a big deal about him getting $75 million when he retired, the man added billions of dollars of value, he was exploited, it was an outrage!

    If he had wanted his pay to reflect the business he brought in, he should’ve worked on commission. He didn’t; he took a salary. Why is Phil Gramm an enemy of corporations and the free market employment contract process?

  • demonhauntedworld

    Silly man. The one form of bigotry still allowed in America is against Christians.

  • http://www.chris-winter.com/ caseloweraz

    @Stumble (#4):

    I believe the applicable phrase is “interlocking boards of directors.”

    A useful reference: The Divine Right of Capital.

  • http://www.chris-winter.com/ caseloweraz

    Phil Gramm, a former three-term Republican senator from Texas who once ran the Senate Banking Committee, told the House Financial Services Committee yesterday that “it was an outrage” that his friend Edward Whitacre, the CEO of AT&T, only got “$75 million” when he retired in 2007.

    I’m open to being exploited that way. Hell, I’m open to being exploited 100 times as much — meaning I’d settle for only $750,000.

    As I said years ago, echoing Woody Harrelson’s line early in the film Indecent Proposal, “Sure, exploit me.”

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    It’s the one form of bigotry that is still allowed in America, and that’s bigotry against the successful … My friend Ed Whitacre at AT&T, if there’s ever been an exploited worker, even though they made a big deal about him getting $75 million, when he retired the man added billions of dollars of value, he was exploited, it was an outrage!

    1. Presumably he got paid while he was working there for the value he added to the corporation during the time he was working there.

    2. If your retirement would add billions of dollars of value to my corporation, I’d fire your ass, I wouldn’t reward you.

    3. I suppose you could look at this as extortion:

    Whitacre: Ha ha, you suckers. I hate you so much and I so enjoy the economic misery I’m inflicting on you and your company that I will literally never retire. Every year I’m here I depress the value of your stock by billions of US dollars! Screw you!

    Board: Look, we hate you too. And you could spite us and make it hard for us to get rid of you, given that we now realize our lawyer made a mistake in wording the clause that defines our latitude to fire you. But your love of screwing us out of US$5billion must only go so far. If we gave you, say, US$75 million in cold hard cash and stocks, bonds, the executive jet we own that you’ve used but would now be yours outright and forever, some other bennies, and it all totaled about … Smithers, could you total this for us? Ah, yes, if it all totaled about US$158 million, would your love for all that obscene wealth exceed your hatred for us?

    Whitacre: I suppose.

    Board: Lawyers? Write it up!

  • felidae

    This is the same Phil Gramm who went to work for UBS for $10 million a year after spearheading bank deregulation in the 90’s–pond scum on two legs

  • Michael Heath

    stumble writes:

    You have to remember the investor class is almost synonymous with the management class.

    Such a defective conclusion guarantees one can’t determine the root causes that caused the last financial crisis in the U.S.

  • Michael Heath

    “If there’s ever been an exploited worker” it was Whitacre, said Gramm . . .

    Now that’s funny.

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    $158 million to go away? What I wouldn’t give for even a fraction of such an outrage to be committed upon me.

  • dannorth

    What was he testifying about to make this rant relevant?

  • colnago80

    They don’t call ole Phil “dollar bill Phil” for nothing.

  • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Rev. Ouabache