Friday, February 02, 2007
Bush Speaks Out Against CEO Pay
Here are some quotes from President Bush's "state of the economy" speech. He acknowledged growing income inequality - "The fact is that income inequality is real. It has been rising for more than 25 years. The earnings gap is now twice as wide as it was in 1980." Although cagily evading governmental responsibility for putting caps on CEO salaries, he strongly suggested that corporations police their own - "Government should not decide the compensation for America's corporate executives. But the salaries and bonuses of CEOs should be based on their success at improving their companies and bringing value to their shareholders." More hints (as if Corporate America would care to take them) - "America's corporate boardrooms must step up to their responsibilities. You need to pay attention to the executive compensation packages that you approve. You need to show the world that America's businesses are a model of transparency and good corporate governance." Well, duh. By far the most remarkable thing about the President's remarks are not what was said, but who said them - and where. President Bush, a graduate of the Harvard Business School who once famously declared that billionaires were his "base", made these remarks at Federal Hall, smack dab in the middle of the New York Financial District. Most of his audience were business types, who responded in "silence" to Bush's admonitions, applauding only when he vowed (as ever) to cut taxes and improve education.
You can chalk this up to the lame duck syndrome, in which the outgoing leader can finally afford to speak truth to power. But there you have it, nonetheless. And, by the way, Hell froze over yesterday, and we should expect four blue moons in a row this month...
"Bush demands greater openness on CEO pay" from Management Issues
"When a Republican president chides rich CEOs, investors listen" from Delaware Online
"Bush takes aim at lush CEO pay" from the North Adams Transcript