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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Republican party presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said on Sunday high salaries paid to chief executives were a “joke” and a “disgrace” and said these were often approved by company boards stacked with the CEO’s friends.

Trump, a real estate mogul who has said he plans to use his net worth of $8.7 billion to fund his White House campaign, said in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” that it was hard to tackle the question of corporate pay because too many corporate boards lacked independence.

“It’s disgraceful. Sometimes the boards rule but I would probably say it’s less than 10 percent; and you see these guys making enormous amounts of money. It’s a total and complete joke,” he said.

In particular Trump mentioned retailer Macy’s Inc, which in July stopped selling his menswear line after he described migrants from Mexico as drug-runners and rapists.

“You’ll take a company like, I could say Macy’s or I could say many other companies, where they put in their friends as the head of the company and they get whatever they want,” he said.

Macy’s did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Trump’s attack on corporate boards echos the kind of criticism expressed by shareholder activists such as Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor who Trump has said he would like as his Treasury secretary should he become president.

Trump also said his tax plan, to be unveiled in the coming weeks, would cut taxes for the middle class and corporations, “but for the hedge fund guys they are going to be paying up.”

A CBS News poll showed Trump, who is competing for the party’s nomination for the November 2016 election, ahead in key battleground states, with retired neurosurgeon and political newcomer Ben Carson in second place.

The poll showed Trump attracting 29 percent of likely Republican voters in Iowa, with Carson on 25 percent. In New Hampshire, Trump had 40 percent to Carson’s 12 percent.

Carson said his time on the boards of Kellogg Co and Costco Wholesale Corp, including on compensation committees, showed he had well-rounded experience.

“You get an enormous amount of experience doing those things,” he said, speaking on CBS after Trump.

“In fact, if you go back and you look at the compensation of the top executives, it was really very reasonable, nothing like what you were talking about in the previous segment.”

The pay of chief executives has also been attacked by Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. According to research by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal thinktank, CEOs’ pay in 2013 was nearly 300 times the pay of the average worker.

(Reporting by Krista Hughes and Toni Clarke; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Greg Mahlich)

Photo: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump signs autographs as he arrives to attend the Jimmy Fallon show in the Manhattan borough of New York, September 11, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

  • bcarreiro

    END ALL corporate$$$ discounts………including yours.

  • Independent1

    For publicly held companies, CEO pay should be tied directly to corporate results. The SEC should establish guidelines which ensure that CEOs pay and bonuses care commensurate with a company’s performance. Boards should not be able to award bonuses to corporate officers, including CEOs unless certain profit levels have been met. And boards certainly should not be able to award huge severance packages when company CEOs and Presidents are cut because of poor company results.

    All these monies that boards award to CEOs and even themselves, reduces either the monies companies have to invest in research, or allocate as divvidends, or plow back into expanding the company and many other ways. All of which has a negative impact on long-term results when excessive monies are awarded to company management.; and therefore in all reality should have to conform to SEC guidelines for publicly held companies. It’s a crime the SEC hasn’t done this years ago.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    There’s one thing that’s missing in all of this…Those corporate results? As phony as a $3 bill. Wake up people. These corporations pay millions for CPAs to make corporate results look rosy. That’s the only way they can possibly justify their pay and bonuses.

    Example: The top 6 US bank CEOs all refuse to comply with the very banking reform laws of 2009 intended to prevent more taxpayer bank bailouts as in the Sept. 2008 Financial Meltdown that nearly brought down banks worldwide thanks to these US thugs.

    How didn’t the SEC know the banks were in dire straights? Because, what any corporation or bank reports and what is FACT is a horse with feathers.

    Anyone who has every worked in accounting would tell you that every IS business today plays “games” with their IRS and corporate reports.

    This is no longer a situation where a business relies solely on its OWN management to stay in business. More than 50% of every US business today lives on the annual tax subsidies their own employees and consumer pays as part of our obligation to federal and state taxes.

    Take away these subsidies and let’s see how rosy their corporate reports will be then.

    • bcarreiro

      along with entertainment purposes on their voucher expense accts.

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        When I worked with 4 CEOs as their executive assistant, I prepared their expense reports on a weekly basis. Your hair would stand on end if you saw what they charge to these reports. Weekend parkway and turnpike tolls and gasoline for personal trips, their business suits which weren’t always worn for business only, their schmoozing lunches with invisible “clients…..”

        Then, at the end of every fiscal year, they’d get an increase in their allowable expense accounts. One CEO’s annual expense stipend was twice my salary. Those box seats at Super Bowl games, baseball and football games, all tax exempt “business” expenses, supposedly exclusively to wine and dine clients. Often, these entertainment expenses were for tickets to top Broadway shows.

        Don’t wonder why CEOs today are money grubbing greedy fools who would just as soon pay NO wages to employees as give up that annual performance bonus or their over stuffed expense accounts.

  • 788eddie

    When one realizes that CEO pay is negotiated and determined by the Board of Directors of a corporation, and that the board members themselves may include CEOs of other corporations, then one can be impressed with the possible inbred collusion that is part of the nature of today’s corporations.

    Can you say “quid pro quo”?

  • latebloomingrandma

    So how does he justify his high income? How does he pay his employees in $$ and benefits? Does he use union labor when building his monuments to himself, or are there illegals working in his building industry? There are way too many things about Trump that are not asked and answered.
    By the way–since he harped on and on about Obama’s transcripts and grades (presumably hinting that Obama was an affirmative action recipient), maybe we should ask for The Donald’s. Did he get into Wharton because of his daddy? How were his grades there? He wants us to take him at his word that he is super smart. He did not give that courtesy to a sitting president.