The media spotlight is on corporate CEOs this week, whether it’s the fiscal showdown, Black Friday protests, or the mismanagement of Hostess, the maker of Twinkies and Ho-Hos. Here’s how to expose the common thread in their actions — and stand up for our values.
Of course corporate CEOs are in it for the money — looking out for the American people is someone else’s job.It’s common sense — of course businesses want to succeed financially and look out for their bottom line. When business and government leaders take the long view of the economy’s best interests, we get companies that create good jobs with decent benefits and Patriotic Millionaires who advocate for shared prosperity that benefits us all.
When they’re just looking out for their own short-term interests, they get soaring CEO pay and massive tax breaks — while we get layoffs and low-wage dead-end jobs. The Twinkies executives padded their own pockets and forced their workers to take less pay. This Friday, Walmart workers who’ve been working harder and harder for less and less are protesting the same thing.
Now the corporate CEOs whose jobs are to make money for themselves and their investors are pushing for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — and more tax cuts for themselves. There’s a reason the American people just rejected a self-interested CEO for president. We need leaders who look out for all of us and understand that ultimately we’re all in it together.
ATTACKS AND RESPONSES
ATTACK: "Labor unions are killing Twinkies and Ho-Hos."
- This is blaming the workers for the bad decisions of the corporate executives who mismanaged Hostess while giving themselves big bonuses. In fact, the workers had already repeatedly made major concessions on their wages and benefits.
- The good news for fans of Twinkies and Ho-Hos is that Hostess, its lenders, and its workers have agreed to work things out so the company can be preserved. But let’s not forget what brought the situation on in the first place — mismanagement by corporate executives.
- Unions are just ordinary workers standing by each other when they stand up to powerful corporate bosses. Is the company CEO really going to listen to a baker who’s by herself when she’s just trying to get paid fairly for a hard day’s work?
CLAIM: "Corporate CEOs just want to help the country fix the debt."
- We celebrate business success in America, but let’s not kid ourselves about the motive that’s driving that financial success in the corporate sector. It’s just what we should expect.
- That’s why we’ve seen again and again what happens when self-interested corporate CEOs get their way: they get soaring CEO pay and massive tax breaks while we get the layoffs and low-wage dead-end jobs.
- Now the corporate CEOs whose jobs are to create wealth for themselves and their investors are pushing for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — and more tax cuts for themselves.
ATTACK: "Obamacare is driving up the price of my pizza."
- This is the complaint from the CEO of Papa John’s Pizza — he’s complaining about having to treat his workers better thanks to a new law meant to reward companies for treating their workers well.
- In fact, experts say they suspect it’s just about the company trying to increase revenue — by using the health care law as an excuse to raise prices on customers.
- The smaller businesses he’s been undercutting, by compensating his own workers poorly, are cheering on the price hike because it would help level the playing field. That’s the way it should be — competing based on whose pizzas taste the best, not who can stiff their workers the best.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Mike Bloomberg, Nick Hanauer, and hundreds of "patriotic millionaires" say the wealthiest Americans like them should do well by America and pay higher taxes.
- Corporate profits are now at an all-time high as a share of the economy, even as the share of those profits that go to workers are at an all-time low.
- America actually has already has the second lowest effective corporate tax rate in the world, and more than two dozen big corporations paid no federal income taxes in the last four years, including GE and Verizon.
- When multinational corporations got their way on an offshoring tax giveaway in 2004, they started firing Americans the day it kicked in and laid off over half a million workers while using the money to pay investors and corporate executives instead of making domestic investments.
- 60% of all jobs lost during the recession paid middle-income wages, while roughly 60% of new jobs created during the economic recovery pay low wages.
- If the big box retailers brought up their wage floor for their lowest-paid workers to just $25,000 per year, putting money in these families’ pockets would generate more than 100,000 new jobs, and add up to $15 billion of new income to the economy.