November 19, 2013
Read the full text of Platinum-Plated Pensions [PDF, 920 KB]
In the current budget debate, the loudest calls for Social Security cuts are coming from two lobby groups led by CEOs who will never have to worry about their own retirement security.
Fix the Debt is a PR and lobby machine launched in 2012 and led by more than 135 CEOs of major corporations. Seeking broad public support, this campaign has publicly couched their calls for reduced spending in vague euphemisms like “protecting and strengthening Social Security.”
The Business Roundtable, a 40-year-old association made up of about 200 CEOs of America’s largest corporations, has not attempted to sugarcoat their draconian agenda. They are calling for an increase in the Social Security retirement age to 70 and a change in inflation calculations that would further reduce benefits.
Meanwhile, Business Roundtable and Fix the Debt CEOs are sitting on massive nest eggs of their own. This report, co-published by the Center for Effective Government and the Institute for Policy Studies, focuses on the retirement funds of Business Roundtable members, but the two groups have considerable overlap. More than half of the Roundtable’s Executive Committee members and a quarter of their total members are affiliated with Fix the Debt.
Retirement assets of Business Roundtable CEOs are 1,200 times larger than typical U.S. workers
- Business Roundtable CEOs’ corporate retirement accounts average $14.5 million—more than 1,200 times as much as the median retirement savings of U.S. workers near retirement age.
- A retirement fund of $14.5 million, combined with Social Security, would generate a monthly retirement check for these CEOs of $88,576. That’s 68 times what a typical U.S. retiree can expect to receive.
Three CEOs pushing Social Security cuts have $100 million-plus retirement funds
- Of the nearly 200 Business Roundtable CEOs, 168 lead U.S.-based publicly held corporations. Ten of these chief executives (including four who are also members of Fix the Debt) have corporate retirement plans valued at more than $50 million.
- At the very top are three CEOs who have retirement assets of more than $100 million:
- John Hammergren, CEO of McKesson, has the largest retirement fortune, having amassed $144.3 million in his retirement nest egg.
- Honeywell’s David Cote, a leading spokesperson for both the Roundtable and Fix the Debt, has a retirement pot of gold with $134.5 million after less than 11 years at the helm.
- Mike Duke, CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, is sitting on $113.2 million in retirement assets, compared to his employees’ average 401(k) account balance of $15,000.
While gilding their personal pensions, many Roundtable CEOs have allowed massive deficits to grow in their employee retirement funds
- Of the Business Roundtable CEOs whose firms provide pension funds for their workers, 10 have deficits in these funds of between $4.9 billion and $22.6 billion.
- The Roundtable CEO with the largest deficit in his company’s worker pension fund is Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric, with $22.6 billion. Immelt’s personal retirement fund is worth more than $59 million, the sixth-largest among Roundtable CEOs.
Below, watch coverage of the report from MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry.