Thursday, February 01, 2007

Speaking Out Against Excessive CEO Pay Is Bush's Most Cynical Move Yet


No doubt, George W. Bush's handlers must have looked on with envy when Sen. Jim Webb spoke eloquently about America's increasing economic polarization in his Democratic rebuttal to Bush's tepid SOTU address.

Clearly, Webb's well-received speech struck a chord among millions of working class Americans, who are working harder than ever these days for increasingly less and less pay.

One of the key tactics in politics is to never let your opponents define an issue (and to get behind the eight-ball on any issue that strikes a chord among the people).

But when Bush's team had him speak out today about excessive CEO pay, it smacked of extreme desperation from an increasingly out-of-touch White House. Bush speaking out against spiraling CEO compensation is like Charles Manson speaking out against violence.

Bush has presided over six years of the most vicious screw-the-working-class policies in the history of this nation. Only the Ronald Reagan years would come close to the lousy deal that working people have faced under Bush.

Americans are working longer hours than ever these days. Median workers' pay continues to stagnate or decline. Worker benefits are vanishing. Unions are under assault from six years of hostile anti-labor legislation under Bush.

The only people who've benefited under Bush have been wealthy stockholders and CEOs, whose pay has soared into the stratosphere (even as their taxes have plunged under Bush).

Bush's criticism of CEO pay was, quite frankly, bizarre. For a quarter of a century, Republicans have been trying to convince America that unbridled, brutal, dog-eat-dog capitalism is the way to go. Under this logic, there is really no such thing as "excessive" CEO pay.

Surprisingly large number of Americans initially bought into this bullsh*t when Reagan first proposed it. But 25 years later, ordinary Americans have woken up to the reality that only the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans are benefiting from this concept, while the rest of us are falling further behind every year.

Webb is one of a growing number of Democratic leaders who have spoken eloquently about America's economic polarization. He's clearly struck a nerve among America's shafted working class.

But for Bush to try to pick up the ball and run with it on this issue is laughable. Even right-wing talk radio and the fascist nutcase right-wing blogosphere must be scratching their heads in puzzlement.

A decade ago, the NeoCon movement was brash, bold and arrogant. Its members were cocky and confident that they could sell ordinary voters on their vision of a new America, completely deregulated and privatized, with no cumbersome unions or labor laws (or anything else to put on crimp on corporate profits).

Nothing has demonstrated the complete and utter failure of the NeoCon movement than its own crown prince, Bush, taking aim at excessive CEO pay. (Or at least pretending to: no one in his right mind really thinks that Bush cares about how much CEOs pull down---or that he will take any action whatsoever to curb CEO pay).

Americans have finally woken up to the concept that if you let corporations run amok, with no regulation, they will screw everything in sight (from the environment to their workers) and the only people who'll benefit are CEOs and rich stockholders.

In fact, Americans are increasingly becoming aware that the Bush economic model goes beyond even screwing workers and outsourcing their jobs, even as taxes on the wealthy plummet.

The worst part of Bush's economy actually isn't economic polarization, as bad as that is. The worst part is that Bush has conspired to turn America's economy into nothing less than socialism for the rich. Halliburton is just the tip of the iceberg. In today's America, corporations pocket some $300 billion in corporate welfare annually (even as 60 percent of corporations pay zero taxes these days).

In fact, the tax burden in the U.S. over the years has been shifting from corporations to individual taxpayers. In the 1950s, corporations paid around half of all taxes. Today, their burden has shrunk to less than 10 percent (as has been documented by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Donald Barlett and James Steele).

So after six years of screwing the working class and taking our money and handing it over to his wealthy friends and contributors, Bush is now suddenly styling himself as a populist "man of the people"? For an administration that has long been noted for lies, deceit and corruption, this has got to be Bush's most cynical move yet.


Ben said...

wow. I really want to move to Canada out of shame. I'm proud to live in the country where FDR took us out of the Great Depression, but that's all being erased by the administration i'm ashamed of. Of course, i am happy that the president at least has a pretense of working with the other party. This has little to do with the post, but whenever i get into this mood i like to point out that trickle-down economy doesn't work in countries whose biggest businesses, such as wal-mart, Nike, etc. outsource all their labor to countries where it's legal to pay three cents an hour.

Cranky Daze said...

Since Junior can't run for another term, folks say he has nothing to lose by doing and saying whatever he wants during the next two years. I'm convinced that his concilliatory moves, pitiful as they are, come from pressure by the Republicans who want to keep their jobs in the 2008 election. His remarks about CEO compensation probably originated in Rove's head.

And I think Congress should be looking very closely at this Halliburton thing. The feds require bids on all government projects, yet Halliburton has been awarded contracts worth billions without having to bid on them. This needs to be investigated. We also need to find out how millions of dollars in cash disappeared in Iraq, and who has it.

How Bush and Cheney have escaped being impeached and indicted is a mystery to me.

Anonymous said...


I have to say this statement of his I think is a stall job. The reason I say that is it diverts attention from some of the real things that are going on that no one is doing anything about (like 2.3 trillion missing from DOD before 9-11 would be a good one, 9-11 itself needs to be re-investigated) These guys need to go in the worsted way before we get sucked into a war with Iran. My thoughts are that they are trying to keep the dollar from collapsing and I don't think they can.

Average Joe

Anonymous said...

Soaring CEO pay seems to get more out of control, the more the U.S. labor movement loses its clout. Do ya think there might be a connection between the two?

Anonymous said...

None of this is going to change by sitting around and waiting for someone to save you like some masochist begging for the caprice of your favorite god.

You need to become educated, seriously and rigorously, in political economy, liberal arts, classics, the canon. Then you need a lot of money, which means a high-paying job, and you need to become active in civics and politically well-connected. And you need to sacrifice for your children, sending them to the best schools and providing environments where they can study, then paying for them to get through Ivies and liberal arts colleges and flagship states, then professional schools, all the while teaching values of noblesse oblige. That's a lot more work. But if you could run things better than the current crop, or if you could raise children to be better leaders than the current batch, perhaps you ought to participate or you'll continue to be governed by your inferiors.

The first thing is to figure out what's going on and let other people know, which is what bloggers are doing, but when comes the part when people actually act on anything? Maybe volunteering in the next presidential election would be a start, learn how things work, meet people, get some direction. That's how the rightwing base did it. Really I don't think moving to Canada is what our Founding Fathers would have done.