Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today said corporate leaders should look in the mirror before lecturing the American people on ways to tackle the deficit.
The senator's comments came after the heads of more than 80 big companies issued a statement on deficit reduction. Sanders released a report detailing how many of the companies headed by the same CEOs have avoided taxes, sent American jobs overseas and took taxpayer bailouts. Click here for the full report.
"There really is no shame," Sanders said. "The Wall Street leaders whose recklessness and illegal behavior caused this terrible recession are now lecturing the American people on the need for courage to deal with the nation's finances and deficit crisis. Before telling us why we should cut Social Security, Medicare and other vitally important programs, these CEOs might want to take a hard look at their responsibility for causing the deficit and this terrible recession.
"Our Wall Street friends might also want to show some courage of their own by suggesting that the wealthiest people in this country, like them, start paying their fair share of taxes. They might work to end the outrageous corporate loopholes, tax havens and outsourcing provisions that their lobbyists have littered throughout the tax code - contributing greatly to our deficit," Sanders added.
Many of the CEOs who signed the deficit-reduction letter run corporations that evaded, in total, at least $34.5 billion in taxes by setting up more than 600 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens since 2008. As a result, at least a dozen of the companies avoided paying any federal income taxes in recent years, and even received more than $6.4 billion in tax refunds from the IRS since 2008.
Several of the companies received a total taxpayer bailout of more than $2.5 trillion from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department.
Many of the companies also have outsourced hundreds of thousands of American jobs to China and other low wage countries, forcing their workers to rely on unemployment insurance and other federal benefits.
"In other words," Sanders said, "these are some of the same people who have significantly caused the deficit to explode over the last four years."
Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, said the $16 trillion national debt is a serious issue. He has proposed specific ways to lower deficits.