Senator Bernie Sanders (a title and name combination that should send the economically and historically literate running for the bathroom due to the high levels of nausea this induces), recently decided to again ignore history (of which he was a large part of) and economics (because his only economics background is in re-distribution, not actually generating wealth) to criticize a favorite punching bag of his: CEOs.
The article is from TrueActivist, which means, as one would suspect, that FalseActivists have already been purged from the party by being
lined up behind the factory and shot in the head, as happens in all the great revolutions. Like all good apparatchiks, one is only a mis-spoken word away from being labeled a capitalist pig sympathizer.
But let’s get on with it. Some things are just better waded into quickly, like icy lake water:
Senator Sanders, in his no-nonsense approach, released a report identifying 18 CEOs responsible for wrecking the economy.
In response to 80 CEOS recently publishing a letter on the Wall Street Journal lecturing America about deficit reduction and urging them to “act on the deficit and reform Medicare and Medicare,” Sanders had the following to say:
There really is no shame. The Wall Street leaders whose recklessness and illegal behavior caused this terrible recession are now lecturing the American people on the need for courage to deal with the nation’s finances and deficit crisis. Before telling us why we should cut Social Security, Medicare and other vitally important programs, these CEOs might want to take a hard look at their responsibility for causing the deficit and this terrible recession.
First of all, CEO’s aren’t “Wall Street leaders”, they’re not trading stocks or securities. They’re running companies. To equate them with the group of people that Sanders and the Occupy movement demonized is wrong, and wholly inaccurate.
Secondly, before Sanders talks about “reckless and illegal” behavior, why does he continue to vote for budgets that fail to address the largest unfunded liabilities in the history of the world? Is that not reckless?
The actual liabilities of the federal government—including Social Security, Medicare, and federal employees’ future retirement benefits—
already exceed $86.8 trillion, or 550% of GDP. For the year ending Dec. 31, 2011, the annual accrued expense of Medicare and Social Security was $7 trillion. Nothing like that figure is used in calculating the deficit. In reality, the reported budget deficit is less than one-fifth of the more accurate figure.
And the above numbers are from a 2012 estimate. It’s only gotten worse. But Bernie’s last line, in this one paragraph, focuses down into a singularity, incredibly, the summation of his entire worldview:
CEOs might want to take a hard look at their responsibility for causing the deficit and this terrible recession.
So, now, it’s CEOs who are responsible for the government spending more than they take in – not the government that does the spending. With one fell swoop, Bernie has absolved himself of responsibility for the budgets he himself has authorized, signed, and supported. What he really means is that government spending is more important than the finances of businesses, the same businesses that provide the dollars he uses to buy votes every six years. Oh, and he completely ignores Fannie and Freddie causing the housing implosion, one of the primary drivers of the recession – and that these same entities are lining up to do it again.
I guess words like “hubris” and phrases like “self-awareness” are absent from Bernie’s Brooklyn-based lexicon. As surely as mirrors and combs are absent from the taxpayer-supported (meaning CEO-supported) socialist cave Bernie’s been living in all his life, while lecturing others how to live their lives, he’ll always find someone else to blame other than the government.
In case you were wondering, Bernie has more to say on this subject:
Our Wall Street friends might also want to show some courage of their own by suggesting that the wealthiest people in this country, like them, start paying their fair share of taxes. They might work to end the outrageous corporate loopholes, tax havens and outsourcing provisions that their lobbyists have littered throughout the tax code – contributing greatly to our deficit.
First of all the wealthiest Americans pay the vast majority of income taxes. It’s an overwhelming avalanche of tax revenues. Let’s break it down for the Senator so even he can understand it:
Of the top half that do pay taxes, the top 50% of earners pay 97% of all income taxes collected.
In other words, Bernie’s lying to Americans by making “fairness” statements. If the tax code were fair, every American would contribute something in federal income taxes. That’s called shared responsibility. Instead, Bernie argues that all the responsibility, for all spending, fall on the shoulders of a tiny fraction of people who are already carrying the load for the rest of us.
Populism sells, and Bernie’s got a warehouse full of it, ready to go. And now, Bernie argues for simplification of the tax code, whether he realizes this or not:
Many of the CEO’s who signed the deficit-reduction letter run corporations that evaded at least $34.5 billion in taxes by setting up more than 600 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens since 2008. As a result, at least a dozen of the companies avoided paying any federal income taxes in recent years, and even received more than $6.4 billion in tax refunds from the IRS since 2008.
First of all, you don’t “evade” taxes by following the law, the laws that Congress writes. The tax code is 74,608 pages long. If Bernie
wants to make sure corporations are paying a “fair share” – which, by the way, the US corporate income tax rate is higher than all the other OECD countries – then he should be voting to blowup the tax code and start fresh, and simple. But that would remove his ability to grandstand, and make claims that corporations don’t pay income taxes – when what they’re doing is applying the US tax code, as written, which Sanders, as a Congressman, is responsible for.
Several of the companies received a total taxpayer bailout of more than $2.5 trillion from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department.
So three companies received $2.5 trillion? That seems like a big number. That must look great on their income statements.
Many of the companies also have outsourced hundreds of thousands of American jobs to China and other low wage countries, forcing their workers to receive unemployment insurance and other federal benefits. In other words, these are some of the same people who have significantly caused the deficit to explode over the last four years.
If a company reduces costs – like a bank that installs ATMs, for example – and has a reduced need for tellers as a result, it’s now the company’s fault for deficit increases because those former tellers are now unemployed. Even though unemployment insurance is paid for by the employer, and then the federal government extended unemployment coverage to 52 weeks from 26, that action is now the responsibility of the employer.
The sound you just heard are the jaws of economically literate people hitting the floor.
The deficit isn’t exploding because of unemployment payments. It’s exploding because of entitlements. Entitlements constitute over half of federal spending, and their growth rates are consistently increasing. Pensions (Social Security, etc), Health Care (Medicare, Medicaid, SSDI), and Welfare – add those up and it’s 62% of the budget.
So no, Bernie, corporations and CEOs aren’t causing deficits and debt. You are, and the organization you belong to, and you’re shoveling debt onto generations of unborn because it gets you right back into your cozy Senator lifestyle after every election cycle.