Ed Rendell Is on the Wrong Side of the Class War

What you need to know about his “Fix the Debt” cabal.

Like pretty much everybody not named Tom Corbett, I like Ed Rendell. A lot. How could you not? He’s big, hairy, loud, part grizzly, part cheesesteak, publicly questions the testicular fortitude of entire nations, brought the city back from the brink of death, etc.

Plus, he’s a jedi when it comes to the dark arts of retail politics: shaking babies, kissing hands, slapping backs while guffawing on cue, shaking down donors, settling scores, holding grudges, and, most importantly, making you believe in your heart of hearts that he is on your side, even when he’s not.

Like right now.

In addition to his current duties as professional-liberal-even-Joe-Sixpack-can-love on MSNBC, Ballard Spahr court jester, and corporate consigliere at Greenhill & Co investment bank, Rendell is currently co-chairing the steering committee of something called The CEO Campaign to Fix the Debt—a blue-chip cabal of 130-plus plutocrats who have anted up a $43 million kitty to fund a multimedia stealth campaign/public relations offensive to convince the turkeys to vote for Thanksgiving.

Fix the Debt is pushing for radical alterations to the tax code to legalize a hundred-plus billion dollar corporate tax dodge and pass the buck onto the middle/working/underclass in the form of deep cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, all the while masquerading as a selfless crusade to save the nation from going over the [cue thunder and lightning] financial cliff. Bless their blackened hearts.

One of the Fix the Debt campaign’s main proposals for deficit reduction is creating a “territorial tax system” that would enable corporations to evade taxation on offshore earnings—which amounts to a combined $418 billion from the Fix the Debt member corporations—when they bring that money home, and giving themselves a $134 billion tax break, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies titled “The CEO Campaign to ‘Fix’ the Debt: A Trojan Horse for Massive Corporate Tax Breaks.”

Just to be clear, they are talking about paying off the national debt by pocketing $134 billion in taxes annually.

And that’s just from Fix the Debt corporate signatories. Taken as a whole, the S&P 500 currently has an estimated $1.5 trillion in revenues in offshore havens. That’s roughly the size of the national debt in 2009.

But wait, it gets better. Last year, 24 of the Fix the Debt CEOs earned more in salary and compensation than the corporations they run paid out in taxes. In 2011, Fix the Debt signatory General Electric paid a total of ZERO U.S. taxes despite racking up $14 billion in annual profits.


And GE, along with the other two major military-industrial-complex welfare queens, Boeing and Honeywell, pocketed $28 billion in taxpayer-funded federal contracts. From 2008 to 2010, Honeywell not only paid zero taxes, it banked a $34 million tax rebate on $5 billion in earnings.

So at this point you might be asking yourself: If the likes of GE and Honeywell are paying zero in taxes, where is Fix the Debt going to get the money to pay down the national debt? Simple. They take it from old people. On Monday, Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, a Fix the Debt signatory, told CBS News:

“[Social Security] wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career … You’re going to have to do something, undoubtedly, to lower people’s expectations of what they’re going to get, the entitlements, and what people think they’re going to get, because you’re not going to get it.”

Last year, Blankfein earned $16 million. His net worth is $450 million. Seventy-one Fix the Debt CEO signatories have at least $9 million in retirement funds, according to the Institute for Policy Studies. A dozen have in excess of $20 million to retire on. Honeywell CEO David Cote is sitting on a $78 million nest egg, which is the equivalent of  a $428,000 Social Security check every month after he turns 65.

It’s like Robin Hood in reverse: rolling old ladies to give to the rich.

And who’s steering this pirate ship? Edward G. Rendell, a man who, when you get right down to it, isn’t really a Democrat. He just plays one on television.

Jonathan Valania is the editor-in-chief of Phawker.com.

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  • thegreengrass

    This makes me sad.

  • http://twitter.com/libboomer Jim Eaton

    Ed Rendell is one of the friendly faces of fascism. Do not take candy from him.

  • Andy Olsen

    Thank you for writing this piece. These plutocrats lost the election after these policies were a central issue. However, they have no respect for the outcomes of the democratic process and continue to demand the policies rejected by the American people.

    It is clearly a fraud to suggest they care about the deficit. They are trying to enrich themselves. What’s worse, their trickle down economic policies have been tried repeatedly and are failures. America had better economic performance when we had higher taxes on the wealthy and invested in our nation’s infrastructure.

    Ed Rendell should be deeply ashamed.

  • Arthur Clark

    Wrong. Rendell *is* a Democrat. The mistake is thinking that there are more than a handful of Dem Party leaders who *are* on our side. The Dem Party, nationally, has much more in common with the Republicans than they have in common with the interests of middle class, working class and poor people. The Dem Party of old no longer exists. Time to wake up and smell the BS.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Evart-James-Warren/1512529614 Evart James Warren

    “[Social Security] wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career”

    No, that’s where the pensions you reneged on come in.

    • acerplatanoides

      But in what fantasy-land does working from 16 to 65 ever equal 25 years of work?

      Because workers require breaks for rest and food that take up half of ‘their’ day?

      • http://twitter.com/Caffinatedone Frank Hirtz

        …and of course the average retiree lives to 97.

  • http://twitter.com/skyblueerik E

    I too like Ed Rendell when he’s on MSNBC, but this outrages me. The REAL moochers and takers in America are the defense contractors and oil companies, as well as Wal-Mart (for paying it’s workers so little they have to rely on government assistance just to get by, which is in effect just taxpayers subsidizing Wal-Mart’s business model). They should run their businesses and leave Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mary-Carroll/100003021167235 Mary Carroll

    The problem isn’t simply that Blankfein’s numbers about Social Security are screwed up (I don’t know ANY senior who hasn’t paid into SSA for 40 or 50 years…even women who took a few years off to raise their children!). The REAL problem is that longevity is a class-mediated phenomenon. Blankfein and his Wall Street buddies may live to age 90 or 95, but most construction workers and waitresses and cab drivers and retail clerks will be lucky if they live past 80! So that’s 13 or 14 years of benefits in return for 40 or 50 years of tax payments. Raising the eligibility age is a DREADFUL idea that simply shifts billions of dollars of benefits from the poor and working and middle class to the richest Americans!

  • Wary

    I like that Ed Rendell not really a Democrat just plays one on TV! I was ranting about him on twitter today and a friend sent me this article! My instincts are correct he’s NOT a Dem! He doesn’t speak for us, he speaks for the Plutocrats!