CEOs to Congress: Fix the debt problem by cutting our taxes!

October 25, 2012

I saw this above-linked article this morning and couldn’t let it pass without comment.  It seems that a group of 80 CEOs is sending a letter to Congress, purportedly telling Congress to fix our debt problem. 

In a letter posted on the Wall Street Journal website late on Wednesday, the U.S. corporate chiefs said it is urgent and essential to put in place a plan to fix America’s debt.

But is it really the debt crisis they’re worried about, or are they interested in something else? 

The corporate chiefs said the fiscal plan must include “comprehensive and pro-growth tax reform, which broadens the base, lowers rates, raises revenues and reduces the deficit.”

“Pro-growth tax reform” is code for “cut our taxes.”  There is no tax that is “pro-growth.”  All taxes siphon money out of the economy, hurting growth.  Thus, “reforming” taxes in a manner that is “pro-growth” means cutting them – especially theirs.  In case there’s any doubt about that, “… broadens the base …” means tax someone else.  And “… lowers rates …” makes it even more explicit what they want when they say “comprehensive pro-growth tax reform.” 

They also know that this thinly-veiled plea to cut their taxes will carry more weight if they can get voters to rally behind them.  (Just in case the fact that they bankroll congressmen’s and senators’ campaigns doesn’t carry enough weight with them.)  So they cloak this plea in a seemingly patriotic appeal to cut the deficit in the best interest of the nation, preying on those gullible enough to believe that some combination of cutting taxes and token spending cuts (not big ones, mind you, because that could hurt corporate profits too) can magically eliminate the deficit and give us a balanced budget. 

The irony is that it’s precisely these people who champion and benefit most from the very condition that necessitates deficit spending in the first place – the free trade policy that has produced a massive trade deficit.  Those trade dollars, siphoned from the economy, have to be plowed back into the economy in some way in order to avoid a deep, permanent recession and to maintain the illusion of prosperity.  Once foreign investors bought every American asset there was to buy, the only way left to keep those dollars going back into the economy is to issue debt (sell them government bonds) and use that debt to fund government programs.  Notice that they don’t utter a peep of protest about our trade policy or the need to restore a balance of trade in order make meaningful deficit reduction possible.

Do these CEOs understand this?  Probably not.  Nor do they care.  Based on my admittedly limited experience, CEOs often aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed.  (Donald Trump comes to mind as an example, though most others are better at keeping their mouths in check.)  They’re usually type-A personalities (a polite way of calling them bullies) who are also blessed with high level schmoozing ability and political astuteness.  As I pointed out in an earlier post, many are examples of functioning sociopaths who care nothing about anyone but themselves, but who are adept at creating an appearance of caring when it suits their interests.  Thus this letter to Congress. 

That’s a harsh indictment of the people who run our major corporations, but what else can be said about people who put their companies’ interests (which, again, suits their own self-interest) ahead of the interests and the common good of their countrymen?  Well, the term “traitor” comes to mind but, in the interest of political correctness, we don’t use harsh terms like that any more.