Commentary

The kind of simple legislation Congress ought to be passing

Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Barbara Lee (Photo: Inequality.org)

We’re now a decade and a half into the 21st Century and the notion that our nation’s runaway inequality is going to get any better anytime soon via the “genius of the market” has been shown to be utter nonsense. To the contrary, the incomes of the nation’s ruling class continue to skyrocket at such an astounding rate that the idea of the U.S. as a “middle class society” has come to seem quaint.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that congressional Republicans can’t get their act together to do much of anything.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. If a majority of the members of Congress possessed a modicum of courage and common sense, they’d be rushing through this bill as soon as possible.

As Congresswoman Barbara S. Lee of California explained here about the Income Equity Act of 2015 that she introduced last week:

“Few realize that CEO bonuses and ‘performance pay’ are subsidized by the American people. Corporations are given major tax breaks for providing exorbitant compensation.

Surely we can agree that corporations don’t need taxpayers to subsidize massive CEO pay?—?pay that’s grown nearly 1000 percent since 1978.

In America, corporations and executives are playing with a deck stacked against hardworking families.

And the Republican response to this profound income inequality has been a collective yawn.

It’s wrong for any business to keep workers in poverty while padding CEO’s wallets.

It’s even worse that some of these same businesses take huge tax deductions for millions in bonuses.

Clearly, our tax code is not designed to work for all Americans?—?just the select few.

My bill, the Income Equity Act, prohibits employers from taking tax deductions for excessive compensation—defined as any pay more than 25 times that of the company’s median wage worker or $500,000.

Congress should get to work for hardworking families, not millionaires and billionaires that want to get even richer on the backs of taxpayers.”

Amen, Congresswoman.

5 Comments


  1. Alex

    March 9, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Would you pass the same law for athletes and entertainers who are paid crazy salaries for doing very little ?

  2. david esmay

    March 9, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Salaries of athletes and entertainers are based on performance. CEO’s can and often do, run companies into the ground only to land softly with their golden parachutes.

  3. Laurie

    March 9, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    David, I read some of these 10-Ks and wonder when they are going to tie it directly to Performance. What is sad, some of these corporations have adopted paying their employees PP (often called piecemeal.) It is still wages, no bonuses if goals aren’t met, etc. etc. etc. thus all subject to taxation as wages.

  4. Alex

    March 9, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Not really David ! Mediocre entertainers and athletes make millions of dollars. The baseball player from Raleigh, Josh Hamilton, signed a contract for $200 million and has done nothing since but end up in a rehab clinic. A CEO is normally fired for inadequate performance.

  5. LayintheSmakDown

    March 9, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    I think we need to limit salaries of progressive commentators and democrat politicians. Those are the main drain on the US economy and cause the most inequality of all.

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