Look Who’s Asking Congress for Deficit Action

by Marc Bastow | October 29, 2012 9:10 am

Look Who’s Asking Congress for Deficit Action

You just have to LOVE the chutzpah foisted on the public by the CEOs of 87 “major” publicly held companies. Last week, they banded together to form a more perfect union dedicated to getting congressional leaders to address the fiscal cliff and long-term debt problems[1].

Just reading through the list of noblemen (oops, sorry, one women is on the list) calling themselves the Campaign to Fix the Debt CEO Fiscal Leadership Council makes the patriotic heart flutter!

Imagine, a group of some of the most well-heeled people — and hey, I’m not knocking people making whatever their boards believe is fair and appropriate compensation — joining forces  to try nudging the hand of government forward toward fiscal prudence.

Which, of course, any number of these execs didn’t do before and are barely doing now. Just look through the complete list[2] of signers. Why? These folks now looking for the government to lower taxes (fairly), curb discretionary funding (fairly) and reform the tax code are also some of the most flagrant abusers of said tax codes. Some have even forced government to provide them with handouts at taxpayer expense (which only added to the debt), while others don’t care to share their cash stash with others.

It’s a long list, so for the sake of brevity, I’ve tried to break this down by particular handout, hideout or tax-code indiscretions. Remember, the CEO of each of these companies is asking for Congress to work quickly to resolve our problems.

I. The Troubled Assets Relief Program, aka TARP, added greatly to the national debt but managed to keep these companies going when the going got tough. It’s been awhile, but I believe none of them got less than $25 billion from the program. And one is still on the hook for its bailout money.

II. Cash on the balance sheet is very nice, but not when it’s waiting to get repatriated[6] back to the U.S. once the tax code is modified for their benefit:

III. Carried interest proponents who may not like it if they end up paying regular income rates on their “profits” instead of the current favorable 15% capital gains rates:

IV. My personal favorite category, in which a sampling of the most recent effective corporate tax rates (generally, as of June 30) is provided. Keep in mind the official corporate tax rate in the U.S. is 35%:

Name Ticker Effective Tax Rate
Verizon VZ[9] 4.36%
Honeywell HON[10] 18.6%
Cisco CSCO[11] 20.8%
Merck MRK[12] 24.8%
Time Warner Cable TWC[13] 32.2%
Source: Y-Charts

V. This is a special category reserved for only one (that I could find) that’s a multiple offender: General Electric (NYSE:GE[14]) took TARP funds, has an effective tax rate of 13% and CEO Jeffrey Immelt is actually chairman of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Quick, somebody get me a pen: I’m signing, you’re signing, we’re all signing this glorified petition.

Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing he is long MSFT, GE, and VZ.

Endnotes:
  1. address the fiscal cliff and long-term debt problems: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203937004578076254182569318.html
  2. the complete list: http://www.fixthedebt.org/uploads/files/CEO-Fiscal-Leadership-Council-Membership.pdf
  3. JPM: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=JPM
  4. GS: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=GS
  5. BAC: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=BAC
  6. waiting to get repatriated: http://investorplace.com/2012/04/apples-un-american-stance-on-taxes/
  7. MSFT: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=MSFT
  8. BLK: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=BLK
  9. VZ: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=VZ
  10. HON: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=HON
  11. CSCO: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=CSCO
  12. MRK: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=MRK
  13. TWC: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=TWC
  14. GE: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=GE

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