RUSH: It’s an uh-oh, moment: a Reuters story. ‘Republican presidential candidate John McCain has spoken out about lavish pay packages for corporate [CEOs], but his top adviser said on Monday the senator wants to shine a light on the issue and is not offering specific new proposals to rein it in. ‘Job No. 1 of the president is to use the bully pulpit to shine a light on behavior that is less-than-exemplary,’ McCain’s top economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin told Reuters in a telephone interview. ‘That’s certainly the case here,’ … referring to the issue of huge chief executive officer pay packages. Holtz-Eakin said McCain would like to see shareholders and boards of directors take the initiative to ensure that pay packages for CEOs are reasonable and in line with performance. ‘We’ll see what the response is,’ he said.’ Senator McCain, it’s none of your business. This is just none… (interruption) I know. It’s exactly what we hear from the left. It’s exactly: ‘Corporate pay is way out of line. We gotta do something about it. We need to shine a light on it. We need to rein it in.’ This is Senator McCain and his… Well, this is just who he is.
This is one of the problems that you have when numbers — pay packages, golden parachutes, this kind of thing — get released, and people have no concept, no way of understanding why the pay was made, what it constitutes, what the value of the work done of the CEO was. So when it’s done that way with lousy PR, it just invites people in government who like to meddle in the private sector to jump in under the rubric of class envy. I mean, what is the point? What really is the point? Is he going to call his wife in? Is he going to shine the light on his wife’s CEO pay or his wife’s family’s pay at the beer distributorship out in Arizona? This is none of government’s business. I don’t know. It’s troubling, because there’s no reason to do this, other than the typical liberal philosophy of class envy. What’s the point of CEO pay come in line with what somebody in the government thinks, if it’s not to pander to voters who aren’t anywhere near that level of compensation? It’s just like tax increases for the rich. It doesn’t do anything for the people in the middle class, lower class. In fact, it hurts them. But they’re supposed to feel good about it because somebody else is getting soaked.
‘Somebody else is hurting, and I want them to hurt like I hurt. So, yeah! Raise their taxes! Yeah! Lower their pay. I want them to find out what it’s like to suffer like we’re all suffering out here.’ It doesn’t accomplish anything — and, last I looked, boards of directors did not have to include a member of the government in order to get business deals and other corporate functions approved. But see, this is the kind of thing… This is another example of how there’s no difference here to what Senator McCain’s economic adviser has said and what you would hear from the Obama or the Hillary campaign. Now, we talked last week about the one area that Senator McCain has said that he’s rock solid conservative on (if he holds to it), and that is he’s going to make the Bush tax cuts permanent and he is not going to raise taxes. He’s not going to mess around with the capital gains tax. All that is important, particularly in an economic climate that we face now, because what happens when you…? See, I believe it’s the little guy who makes the country work. I think it’s middle-class people, business owners, small business owners hiring others that employ most of the people in this country, and they are the engine of this country.
They’re the ones that make it work. If you raise taxes on these small business people, a lot of them file Subchapter S on their personal income tax returns. So you raise their income tax rates along with the so-called rich, for the express purpose of ‘fairness,’ and ‘getting even with them,’ and ‘making sure that the little guy knows that somebody in the government is on his side,’ what you’re going to end up doing is getting the little guy canned. The little guy is going to get laid off. The very supposed beneficiary of all these increases in taxes — and it’s not about raising revenue, folks. If it were about raising revenue, the Democrats would make the Bush tax cuts permanent; the capital gains rate would be lowered, as would the corporate income tax rate. It’s not about revenue. It’s about control. It’s about reducing people’s individual liberty and economic independence, so that more and more people have to depend on government. That’s totally, totally what this is. It just isn’t useful or helpful when the Republican nominee, who said one thing about taxes and so forth, starts talking class envy lingo about CEOs.
RUSH: Now back to Senator McCain and his attempt to rein in CEO pay. I don’t mean to take the smiles off your face by bringing this up again. But a little lesson for everybody, including Senator McCain. It is up to the shareholders to determine what the CEO gets paid. Shareholders voluntarily invest in a company. They decide if the CEO should be booted or paid or whatever. The board of directors represents the investors, oftentimes the CEO as well. But let me suggest to Senator McCain and all the rest of you who think that the government ought to somehow have some oversight over what anybody in the private sector makes, let me suggest that the government that Senator McCain seeks to lead has enough problems with management and finance and fairness than to be extending its power to every boardroom. In other words, I don’t know who in government I would hire to do anything if I ran a major corporation. I don’t know who I would hire to fix it, streamline it, and run it. Senator McCain hasn’t run a business like this, yet he’s saying, ‘I’m going to rein in CEO pay.’ This is all just liberal lingo. It’s all pandering on the basis of class envy.
How well have the feds done fixing Social Security? When they fix that, when the federal government fixes FEMA, when the federal government fixes the public housing mess that they created, when they fix the massive bureaucracy and downsize it, make it functional, when they fix an endless list of programs they have created, then maybe Senator McCain, who’s been in Washington for 24 years, can start lecturing other people about how to run their businesses. But the last I looked, the way government is being run and all of its ancillary programs, does not recommend anybody in charge in government to be put in charge of anybody’s business, or any industry, like health care — hello, Mrs. Clinton, hello Senator Obama. Now, if somebody wants to be CEO of some company, like Senator McCain, then go seek that job. But he’s running for the presidency, and as such, he is the CEO of no company. He doesn’t get to run the private sector as president. He’s running to be chief executive of the federal government. This brings me to a point that I have wanted to make for a while.
Maybe Senator McCain or somebody on his staff could start explaining to us in some coherent way, because this is gonna matter when we get down to the general, start explaining to us in some coherent way exactly what his views of federal power and economic activity are, because so far, Senator McCain has gotten away with an incoherent mix of both. But maybe he should start spelling out exactly what his principles are regarding governance and economics, because it matters. Particularly since this is the one striking difference between Senator McCain and the Democrats, and that is his views on tax cuts and economic growth and reining in pork barrel spending, earmarks, and that kind of thing. But when he comes out with this kind of thing, (doing McCain impression) ‘CEOs are making so much money. We have to look into it, we have to shine the light,’ well, when you start saying things like that, it makes those of us who support Senator McCain on taxes start to wonder… well, just start to wonder. I’ll just leave it at that.
RUSH: I want to go back. I want to touch on the Senator McCain thing one more time. Yesterday we had a story that Senator McCain and the Republicans are eager in there outreach program to Democrats and independents, and today we have a story. This is from Reuters out of Chicago: ‘Republican presidential candidate John McCain has spoken out about lavish pay packages for corporate [CEOs], but his top adviser said on Monday the senator wants to shine a light on the issue and is not offering specific new proposals to rein it in.’ Every time we get a story like these two, yesterday and today on Senator McCain, and I mention them, Snerdley gets inundated with phone calls from people who don’t want to go the air. ‘Tell him to stop criticizing our candidate! Tell him to stop criticizing McCain!’ Folks, what am I supposed to do here? Am I just supposed to ignore this stuff? Everybody says, ‘Rush, you are the leader of the conservative movement. You must bring conservatives.’ That’s what I’m trying to do here, but it’s not my job to get anybody elected here.
What am I supposed to do when the Republican presidential candidate starts saying things like, ‘I can’t wait to reach out to Democrats. I want to bring as many of them in as possible, and we’re going to start shining the light on CEO pay?’ especially when there’s nobody in this government from business. Maybe a couple own businesses. Herb Kohl owns some grocery stores, the Milwaukee Bucks. You know, Frank Lautenberg, I don’t know if he still has interest in it, but he had ADP, that payroll processing outfit. I think it was The Lout’s. Yeah. But most of them… Look at the way they run the government, for crying out loud. If those who run businesses would run various government programs with the same oversight they run their businesses, then we might have had a Social Security reform by now. We might have had FEMA that works. You know, we might have a war on poverty that actually could claim victory somewhere along the line. But it just irritates me. I don’t know what I’m supposed to say. Well, I do know what. I’m asking you rhetorically when I say, ‘What am I supposed to do here? Just ignore it?’