CEO-WORKER DIVIDE: CEOs in the United States, despite our current hard
economic times, continue to pocket outlandishly large pay packages. S&P 500 CEOs
last year averaged $10.5 million, 344 times the pay of typical American workers.
Compensation levels for private investment fund managers soared even further out
into the pay stratosphere. Last year, the top 50 hedge and private equity fund managers
averaged $588 million each, more than 19,000 times as much as typical U.S.
TAXPAYER SUBSIDIES FOR EXECUTIVE PAY: Average U.S. taxpayers subsidize
excessive executive compensation — by more than $20 billion per year — via a
variety of tax and accounting loopholes. That $20 billion for America’s most powerful
is more than double what the federal government spent last year on educating
America’s most vulnerable — children with disabilities.
INDIRECT TAXPAYER SUPPORT FOR RUNAWAY PAY: Many billions more
taxpayer dollars indirectly encourage excessive executive pay, through everything
from government contracts for goods and services to corporate bailouts. More than
85 percent of the public companies on the federal government’s top 100 contractors
list paid their CEOs over 100 times the pay of average U.S. workers.
REFORM ROADBLOCKS: Legislation that would plug executive-friendly tax
loopholes is already pending in Congress. But this legislation has stalled — and will
likely remain stalled unless the November 2008 elections change current Congressional
WHERE THE CANDIDATES STAND: Senator John McCain and Senator Barack
Obama differ significantly on the executive pay reforms now before Congress, but
neither candidate has yet endorsed all the major reforms needed to start addressing
— and ending — over-the-top executive compensation.
IF CURRENT TRENDS CONTINUE: The divide between CEO and worker pay
appears likely to grow even wider, since industries projected to show the largest employment
growth over the next decade sport pay gaps far wider than industries that
are losing the most jobs.
EXECUTIVE PAY AND WORKER RIGHTS: Excessive executive pay and the tax
code loopholes that enable this excess reflect the absence of checks and balances on
America’s economic landscape. Historically, trade unions have operated as the most
important of these checks and balances. They could play that role again if lawmakers
passed the pending Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that would help workers
realize their right to organize into unions and bargain collectively with their employers.