5:05 PM Eastern - Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Retirement Only a CEO Can Enjoy #retirement-security

What's the difference between your retirement savings and Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke's?

It's just $100 million or so, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Effective Government.

The report "Platinum-Plated Pensions" exposes the hypocrisy of the Business Roundtable and leaders of the Fix the Debt campaign who have aggressively lobbied for cuts to Social Security while collecting exorbitant pension benefits. The overlapping membership of these two groups includes the heads of Wal-Mart, Exxon-Mobil, Proctor & Gamble and CVS Caremark who have retirement savings that are more than 1,200 times as much as the median retirement savings of U.S. workers near retirement age.

Each of the 200 executives of Business Roundtable has retirement savings averaging $14.5 million, but Duke, along with John Hammergren of McKesson and David Cote of Honeywell each has retirement assets of more than $100 million.

Once Social Security is factored into these lavish funds, the typical Business Roundtable CEO can expect $88,576 in monthly retirement income. But who needs Social Security when you'll get over 60 times the benefits of a typical U.S. retiree!

Currently, Social Security's retirement benefits are only $1,200 or less for the average worker. These benefits would be drastically reduced under Business Roundtable and Fix the Debt's proposals to "rein in federal spending" by adopting the chained CPI measure of inflation and raising the retirement age.

"If Congress approves of proposals like ones that the Business Roundtable are pushing, we could see severe cuts that could mean the difference between any kind of dignified retirement and absolute poverty. Two-thirds of retired Americans rely on Social Security for the majority of their income, and more than 40 percent would be in poverty without those benefits," says Sarah Anderson, director of the Global Economy Project at IPS and one of the report's authors.

With more Americans relying on Social Security's modest benefits, we're left to wonder if the heads of these corporations care if retirees can afford to purchase their goods and services. "Social Security keeps millions of retired workers out of poverty," said Scott Klinger, the Center for Effective Government's Director of Revenue and Spending Policies. "If leading CEOs really wanted to help American seniors, they'd stop calling for cuts and start leading the charge to lift the cap on Social Security taxes, so that they and other prosperous Americans could help ensure the program's ongoing success." But it turns out these CEO's aren't just picking on seniors.

The 71 publicly held firms in the coalition behind the "Fix the Debt" campaign have a combined deficit of more than $100 billion in their employee pension funds, while ten companies led by members of Business Roundtable have shortfalls in their employee pension funds of between $4.9 and $22.6 billion. These pension deficits are forcing employees to face extreme uncertainty about actually being paid the retirement benefits they've worked so hard for.

Instead of placing the burden of fixing our nation's deficit on the shoulders of hardworking Americans, the CEOs of many of America's largest corporations need to take responsibility for the role they've played in increasing retirement insecurity across the nation.

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