Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

A protester at a union rally against government budget cuts in New York.

A protester at a union rally against government budget cuts in New York. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A Corporate Tax Even Republicans Should Love

Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and other congressional progressives want to tax companies that overpay their CEOs. Most Republicans would go even further.

Sarah Anderson

 by CNN

I moved away from my hometown of Litchfield, Minnesota, several decades ago, and since that time, my politics have veered to the left as those in my hometown have veered to the right. Donald Trump won my family's western Minnesota congressional district by over 30 percentage points.

And yet, when I visit the church bazaars and county fairs or attend family reunions in my hometown, we always find common ground when it comes to wealth-hoarding corporate CEOs.

So I'm not surprised by national polls showing that both Democrats and Republicans have had it with CEO greed. Some 78% of U.S. workers feel CEOs are overpaid compared to their employees, one poll found last year.

It may be even worse than they think.

A Harvard Business School study found that Americans think the right CEO-worker pay ratio is no higher than 7 to 1. But a report I co-authored for the Institute for Policy Studies found that 80% of S&P 500 firms paid their CEO over 100 times more than their median worker last year.

In many cases, it was well more than 1,000 times.

All this could mean bipartisan traction for a new bill introduced by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) earlier this month. It would raise the federal corporate income tax rate on companies that pay their CEOs more than 50 times their median workers' pay.

The bigger the gap, the bigger the hike. At a 50-to-1 gap, the tax goes up by half a percentage point. At 500-to-1, firms would see their tax bills jump by 5 full percentage points. That might be enough to get corporate boards to rethink how much they pay their top executives—and how little they pay their workers.

Could Republicans like my old Minnesota neighbors get on board? It sure seems like it.

As recently as 2016, a Stanford University survey found that over half of Republicans—a full 52%— favor an outright cap on CEO compensation relative to worker pay. That's even more radical than what Sanders, Warren, Tlaib, and Lee have proposed, since their bill would tax—but not prohibit—those offensive pay gaps.

Several prominent Republican politicians have weighed in to support restraining executive pay excess.

President Donald Trump railed against sky-high CEO pay during his 2016 campaign. In particular, he called for the closure of the "carried interest" loophole that allows hedge fund and private equity fund managers to cut the taxes they owe by almost half.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump's acting chief of staff, has a record on the issue too. Before he left Congress, Mulvaney introduced an amendment to eliminate U.S. Export-Import Bank subsidies for any company with a CEO that's paid more than 100 times the median worker pay.

Of course, neither Trump nor Mulvaney has done much to turn those proposals into law. But while the 2017 GOP tax cuts Trump signed were otherwise a huge gift to the wealthy, they did close one perverse loophole that had encouraged excessive CEO pay. Before this change, corporations could deduct unlimited amounts of executive pay from their federal tax bills, as long as they labeled that pay "performance-based."

Just as cigarette taxes have helped reduce smoking rates while generating revenue for health programs, a pay gap tax could incentivize less harmful corporate executive behavior while raising revenue that could be used to reduce inequality. If the new bill's penalties had been in place last year, S&P 500 firms with pay gaps over 100-to-1 would have owed as much as $17.2 billion in additional federal taxes.

Folks in my hometown would approve. Maybe even cheer.


© 2021 Cable News Network

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·


Progressives Rebuke Dem Leadership as Clyburn Dismisses Death of Roe as 'Anticlimactic'

"The gap between the Democratic leadership, and younger progressives on the question of 'How Bad Is It?' is just enormous."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo