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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

 
The filthy rich play dirty

by digby

Remember this from yesterday?

Democrats continue to push Republicans to accept a small income surtax on income over $1 million to offset the cost of renewing the payroll holiday, but with little time until the government shuts down and the current tax cut expires, they may be willing to cut a deal.

Said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the number two Democrat in the Senate, “We’re open to ideas.”

Here's one "idea":

President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats on Wednesday discussed abandoning efforts to impose a surtax on millionaires to help pay for extending a popular payroll tax break for workers, a Senate Democratic leadership aide said.

Obama and fellow Democrats in Congress are trying to find a way to pass the payroll tax extension in the face of stiff Republican opposition to the millionaires surtax.

The tax workers pay to the Social Security retirement system will rise to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent at the end of the month unless Congress acts to extend the lower rate.


This may be a trial balloon, in which case mark me down as a "hell no." But I wonder. I cannot imagine the Democrats are willing to shut down the government over this. I have no reason to believe they really care that much about millionaires paying more in taxes.

I'd be happy to be wrong and happy to see them put up a fight over this. But this has the feel of a Christmas kabuki, a dance that's been all the rage ever since President Obama took office. I doubt any of them want to be the Grinch, but I have a feeling that one Party's a little bit more comfortable in that role than other.

It's particularly disheartening in light of this:

Chief executive pay has roared back after two years of stagnation and decline. America's top bosses enjoyed pay hikes of between 27 and 40% last year, according to the largest survey of US CEO pay. The dramatic bounceback comes as the latest government figures show wages for the majority of Americans are failing to keep up with inflation.

America's highest paid executive took home more than $145.2m, and as stock prices recovered across the board, the median value of bosses' profits on stock options rose 70% in 2010, from $950,400 to $1.3m. The news comes against the backdrop of an Occupy Wall Street movement that has focused Washington's attention on the pay packages of America's highest paid.

The Guardian's exclusive first look at the CEO pay survey from corporate governance group GMI Ratings will further fuel debate about America's widening income gap. The survey, the most extensive in the US, covered 2,647 companies, and offers a comprehensive assessment of all the data now available relating to 2010 pay.

Last year's survey, covering 2009, found pay rates were broadly flat following a decline in wages the year before. Base salaries in 2009 showed a median increase of around 2%, and annual cash compensation increased just over 1.5%. The troubled stock markets took their toll, and added together CEO pay declined for the third year, though the decrease was marginal, less than three-tenths of a percent. The decline in the wider economy in 2007, 2008 and 2009 far outstripped the decline in CEO pay.

This year's survey shows CEO pay packages have boomed: the top 10 earners took home more than $770m between them in 2010. As stock prices began to recover last year, the increase in CEO pay outstripped the rise in share value. The Russell 3000 measure of US stock prices was up by 16.93% in 2010, but CEO pay went up by 27.19% overall. For S&P 500 CEOs, the largest companies in the sample, total realised compensation – including perks and pensions and stock awards – increased by a median of 36.47%. Total pay at midcap companies, which are slightly smaller than the top firms, rose 40.2%.


And we ain't seen nothing yet:
GMI, formerly known as the Corporate Library, is expecting a rash of massive stock option bonuses as many firms awarded their top executives big option deals when the stock markets hit their lows in 2007-2008.

"There's still a lot of money just waiting in the market," said Hodgson. He described the upcoming awards as a "bombshell" likely to dwarf this year's figures.


Still, we can't tax these fellows or they'll stop creating all those jobs they've been creating and then where will we be?

Nobody's worth that kind of money, nobody, not even in good times. To do it at a time like this when the whole world is in economic turmoil and millions of people are losing their futures and their dreams is just disgusting. Me, I'm buying pitchfork futures. If this keeps up it won't end well.

Keep your eye on the cuts to the health care subsidy and medicare and changes to unemployment in appropriations. There's a lot of bad stuff in that Boehner bill that I'm sure they'd like to get through. If they agree to drop them in exchange for not making millionaires pay for UI, I'll call it a wash. The big millionaire tax hike battle comes next Christmas.



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