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.