Austerity for thee but not for me

As our friend at Scrutiny Hooligans points out, scratch a fervent austerian and find an opportunistic S.O.B.! How deliciously ironic that the Fix The Debt gang are pushing austerity policies that will translate into millions, even billions of dollars for themselves in tax breaks

Austerity. Just what you wanted for Christmas. From McClatchy:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A group co-founded by Charlottean Erskine Bowles brings its campaign to reduce the federal debt to North Carolina next week, making the state the latest front in the battle to avert the “fiscal cliff.”

Two former governors – Democrat Jim Hunt and Republican Jim Holshouser – will launch Fix the Debt’s N.C. chapter at a news conference Tuesday in Raleigh.


Fix the Debt was founded by Bowles and Alan Simpson, a former U.S. senator from Wyoming. They chaired the so-called Bowles-Simpson commission that two years ago proposed a package of spending cuts and tax hikes to begin reducing the federal debt, now estimated at over $16 trillion.

If you didn’t see Lloyd Blankfein’s CBS interview a few days ago, it gets better. From Huffington Post, “CEO Council Demands Cuts To Poor, Elderly While Reaping Billions In Government Contracts, Tax Breaks”:

WASHINGTON — The corporate CEOs who have made a high-profile foray into deficit negotiations have themselves been substantially responsible for the size of the deficit they now want closed.

The companies represented by executives working with the Campaign To Fix The Debt have received trillions in federal war contracts, subsidies and bailouts, as well as specialized tax breaks and loopholes that virtually eliminate the companies’ tax bills.

The CEOs are part of a campaign run by the Peter Peterson-backed Center for a Responsible Federal Budget, which plans to spend at least $30 million pushing for a deficit reduction deal in the lame-duck session and beyond.

During the past few days, CEOs belonging to what the campaign calls its CEO Fiscal Leadership Council — most visibly, Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein and Honeywell’s David Cote — have barnstormed the media, making the case that the only way to cut the deficit is to severely scale back social safety-net programs — Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — which would disproportionately impact the poor and the elderly.

But not them or their firms. The HuffPost’s Christina Wilkie and Ryan Grim point to a report by the Institute for Policy Studies that calls Fix the Debt “a Trojan horse for massive corporate tax breaks,” and provides these findings:

  • The 63 Fix the Debt companies that are publicly held stand to gain as much as $134 billion in windfalls if Congress approves one of their main proposals — a “territorial tax system.” Under this system, companies would not have to pay U.S. federal income taxes on foreign earnings when they bring the profits back to the United States.
  • The CEOs backing Fix the Debt personally received a combined total of $41 million in savings last year thanks to the Bush-era tax cuts. The top CEO beneficiary of the Bush tax cuts in 2011, Leon Black of Apollo Global Management, saved $9.9 million on the Bush tax cuts. The private equity fund leader reaped $215 million in taxable income last year just from vested stock.
  • Of the 63 Fix the Debt CEOs at publicly held firms, 24 received more in compensation last year than their corporations paid in federal corporate income taxes. All but six of these firms reported U.S. profits last year.

So the one-time-only Bush repatriation tax holiday (2004) is back again, again. A year ago, NC Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan partnered with Sen. John McCain in an attempt to resurrect the one-time-only scheme one more time. It went nowhere. But their corporate sponsors are persistent little devils. So now repatriation is back re-branded as Fix the Debt’s “territorial tax system.” In addition to the profits mentioned above, the territorial tax system “give companies additional incentives to disguise U.S. profits as income earned in tax havens in order to avoid paying U.S. income taxes.”

Not to mention a permanent incentive for moving jobs offshore. Chuck Marr, Director of Federal Tax Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told Jared Bernstein last year, “a dog could figure this out.” [timestamp 4:10]

Isn’t that nice. Show this to your relatives who still think this whole austerity “crisis” is real.

5 Responses to Austerity for thee but not for me

  1. imhotep November 26, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    This is a war between the Capitalists and those who want to move forward into a future ofering more equality to all of us. Without economic equality all of the other so-called freedoms are meaningless. How valuable is free speech to a homeless person? Individualism grants you the right to ignore your neighbors hunger and poverty and not feel any guilt. Just ask a Republican. After all it was their fault for making such bad choices. Collectivism responds differently to the same issues. More humanely.

  2. imhotep November 26, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    “their fault”…not the Republicans fault, but the fault of the poor and hungry. Sorry.

  3. mary November 26, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    I’m beginning to think that the best solution is to let the budget ‘go over the cliff’. Call their bluff!

  4. lless November 26, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    Imho: I am so on board with your rhetoric, but you sold it out. You voted for Obama. Now you are screaming down the street about what we both knew he was going to do all along. Then come next election you will piously assert that the lesser evil is the only choice again. Rinse and repeat!

  5. imhotep November 27, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    lless, “Jesus does not think dogmatically. He formulates no doctrine. He is far from judging any man’s belief by reference to any standard of dogmatic correctness. Nowhere does he demand that his hearers sacrifice thinking to believing.” (Albert Schweitzer.) In other words, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.”

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