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New Report: The CEO Campaign to 'Fix' the Debt: A Trojan Horse for Massive Corporate Tax Breaks

November 13, 2012

Washington DC — A new Institute for Policy Studies report reveals the massive windfalls members of the “Fix the Debt” campaign stand to gain from their proposed solutions to the nation’s fiscal challenges.

This corporate campaign is a major player in the debate, with a $60 million budget and a roster of more than 80 powerful CEO endorsers. The IPS report focuses on the extreme self-interest behind Fix the Debt’s corporate tax proposals and how these CEOs have enriched themselves under the current tax regime.

Key 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. Some of these CEOs have said they’re willing to give up their individual tax cuts in exchange for a “balanced” debt deal. But this is hardly surprising, given that a territorial tax system and other proposed tax breaks would boost corporate profits —and CEO bonuses and stock options.
  • Of the 63 Fix the Debt CEOs, 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, indicating that their low tax bills are the result of the widespread corporate tax-dodging that has contributed significantly to the national debt.

“The ‘Fix the Debt’ CEOs are trying to pass themselves off as noble leaders who are willing to compromise in order the save America from financial ruin,” says report co-author Scott Klinger. “In reality, the campaign is a Trojan horse concealing massive corporate tax breaks that would make our debt situation much worse.”

“Don’t be fooled by the patriotic packaging,” says Sarah Anderson, a report co-author. “If these CEOs were serious about helping America, they wouldn’t be trying to balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable.”

Link to full report: http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/ceo-campaign-to-fix-the-debt/

Report co-authors Anderson and Klinger are co-authors of the Institute’s widely publicized 19th annual “Executive Excess” report, which focused on taxpayer subsidies for excessive CEO compensation.  That report received significant media coverage, including in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

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Institute for Policy Studies (IPS-DC.org) is a community of public scholars and organizers linking peace, justice, and the environment in the U.S. and globally. We work with social movements to promote true democracy and challenge concentrated wealth, corporate influence, and military power.