CEOs Pushing Social Security Cuts are Sitting on Massive Retirement Funds While Underfunding Worker Pensions

James McNerney

James McNerney, Boeing CEO and a member of “Fix the Debt”

A new report by the Institute for Policy Studies examines CEOs of public companies who have endorsed the “Fix the Debt” campaign. The report, “Pension Deficit Disorder: The Massive CEO Retirement Funds and Underfunded Worker Pensions at Firms Pushing Social Security Cuts,” finds that these CEOs, while calling for ordinary Americans to take cuts in Social Security and Medicare, are sitting on an average of $9 million each in retirement funds. Most are also running large deficits in their own employees’ pension funds.

“These CEOs paint a stark picture of hypocrisy,” said Scott Klinger, a report co-author. “They are feathering their own retirement nests while trying to deny ordinary Americans — including their own employees — their hard-earned nest eggs. They’re simply taking advantage of the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ to push the same old agenda of more corporate tax breaks while shifting costs onto the poor and elderly.”

The report focuses on the CEOs of major U.S. corporations who have endorsed the “Fix the Debt” campaign, which is currently conducting a nationwide advertising blitz to promote their solutions for the country’s fiscal ills.

Key findings: 

  • The 71 Fix the Debt CEOs who lead publicly held companies have amassed an average of $9 million in their company retirement funds. A dozen have more than $20 million in their accounts. If each of them converted their assets to an annuity when they turned 65, they would receive a monthly check for at least $110,000 for life.
  • The Fix the Debt CEO with the largest pension fund is Honeywell’s David Cote, a long-time advocate of Social Security cuts. His $78 million nest egg is enough to provide a $428,000 check every month after he turns 65.
  • Forty-one of the 71 companies offer employee pension funds. Of these, only two have sufficient assets in their funds to meet expected obligations. The rest have combined deficits of $103 billion, or about $2.5 billion on average. General Electric has the largest deficit in its worker pension fund, with $22 billion.

“The Fix the Debt CEOs are trying to persuade policymakers and the public that cuts to Social Security and Medicare are necessary to avoid economic ruin,” said report co-author Sarah Anderson. “A better way to strengthen our economy would be to raise revenues through fair taxation of the wealthy and Wall Street, eliminating subsidies for polluters, and cutting military spending.”

This is the second Institute for Policy Studies report on the “Fix the Debt” campaign. The first report revealed that Fix the Debt companies would stand to gain as much as $134 billion in windfalls from one of their main tax proposals — a permanent exemption of their foreign earnings from U.S. federal income taxes.

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