Tag Archives: corporate tax giveaways

The Case for Proposition 24

These last couple months, I’ve been writing on the internet arguing for the passage of California’s Proposition 24. Polls show we have one of the closest races of any California initiative, and nobody can say what the outcome will be on Tuesday. However, I have to say that my colleagues and I on the Yes campaign have been extremely heartened by the outpouring of support we’ve seen, especially from working Californians. These are teachers, healthcare workers, community organizers and civil servants who understand the dire situation California’s budget is in, and know that we need Proposition 24 to avoid things getting even worse.

A brief recap: in 2009, as part of a contentious budget deal, three new corporate tax loopholes were signed into law in California. As they are implemented, these giveaways will cost Californians $1.3 billion a year. The loopholes benefit large multistate corporations, not small business. Corporations can receive the breaks without hiring any new California workers; they can even ship Californians’ jobs overseas and still get a tax cut. Proposition 24 was placed on the November ballot to repeal these loopholes and make sure the corporations pay their fair share.

We’ve had an expensive campaign, and there’s been a lot of misinformation put out there. The main committee opposing Proposition 24, which attempts to mislead you into thinking its donors are small businesses, when in reality they get their money from well-heeled corporate giants like NewsCorp and Pfizer. That committee is on track to spend at least $15 million against us, according to the most recent finance reports. Of course, $15 million is chump change for a group of Fortune 500 companies, many of whom pay their CEOs at least that amount every year.

If they win, their millions of dollars will have earned more pink slips for California teachers. Their millions of dollars will have cost more working families in California their childcare. And their millions of dollars will put every aspect of our safety net back on the chopping board. Perhaps worst of all, their millions of dollars will not put a single Californian back to work.

We don’t expect the upcoming budget processes to be easy. We don’t expect to have the resources we need to provide every service and job that hardworking Californians deserve. But we do know that $1.3 billion will help us, and corporate tax loopholes will not. I want to thank all of you who have read my posts this election season, and I would make one final request: please vote Yes on 24, and please stress to your friends exactly how important winning this one is. We haven’t gotten the same amount of media coverage as some other campaigns, but we’re all going to be affected by the outcome of this race. Thank you, and please cast your ballot on November 2.  

The Voices We Must Hear

(Disclosure: I proudly work for Yes on 24)

I wrote earlier about some of the horrific cuts we’ve seen to public education in California. Passage of Proposition 24 could alleviate at least some of the pain by restoring $1.3 billion that’s set to be gift-wrapped to multistate corporations that aren’t creating California jobs. After I finished talking to the teachers who I featured in the linked post, I spoke with other community activists who are seeing lives affected by draconian budget cuts. Their stories should stay with us as we cast our ballots in this election, and inspire us to vote for the change we deserve.

Karla Salazar, who works for AFSCME, told me the saddest story I’ve heard so far. One of her union members is a woman named Pamela Garcia, who works as a rec assistant at state parks. She’s the mother of 2 children. During the budget crises, she’s had her hours cut time and again, and now she’s down to 5 a week. On 5 hours a week, she couldn’t come close to paying the rent, and she and her children don’t have a home.

In case you want things to get worse, Astrid Campos of the California Partnership has more bad news. California Partnership is a coalition of community-based organizations that fight poverty, and they lobby Sacramento to try and protect the safety net for families like the Garcias. Despite their best efforts, the safety net is being ripped to shreds. If Prop 24 fails, she told me, we’ll lose childcare for families that are transitioning out of Cal-Works, the state welfare program. The adults in these families must work at least 32 hours a week, but they make less than $25,000 a year. Ironically, these cuts won’t even save the state money in the long run, as most of the 80,000 families affected will be driven back to welfare.

One bright spot I see is that the effort to stop these cuts has united communities. For instance, the Reverend Lewis Logan is working to extend these efforts to faith-based communities. Rev. Logan told me that faith communities are fundamentally concerned with justice, and Prop 24 is in the cause of justice. He speaks articulately about the distorted politics that created the need for Prop 24, pointing out that taxes are an investment in the skilled labor that corporations need. Essentially, he says, we’re playing a shell game.

Karla Salazar, Astrid Campos and Rev. Lewis Logan were blindsided by the corporate tax giveaways handed out in the 2009 budget process. Organizations like theirs, and the Pamela Garcias they represent, didn’t even get a public hearing. Thanks to Proposition 24, they have that public hearing now. We should hear them loud and clear, and vote Yes on 24.

Yes on 24 Launches New Website

(Originally posted at the Pay Their Fair Share blog)

Disclosure: I proudly work for Yes on 24

Let me begin by saying I’m proud to have helped launched the brand new Pay Their Fair Share website, located at paytheirfairshare.com. If you’re in California, it’s your best resource to find out who’s really opposing Proposition 24 and why. Even if you aren’t in the Golden State, we hope Pay Their Fair Share gives a fresh look into the bad behavior of major corporations during our tough economic times. Below the fold you’ll find the first piece originally posted to the blog over at Pay Their Fair Share, which I authored. Other posts have previously appeared on this website.

New Committee Formed to Oppose 24 is More of the Same

We’ve written extensively on the hypocrisy of the main campaign opposing Proposition 24. Notably, they claim they’re a coalition that includes small businesses, when in reality their funding comes from multistate corporations, none of which could be considered ‘small’. Many of them have laid off workers in California and across the nation, and they aren’t hiring just because they’ve been handed some new tax giveaways.

However, there may be a second show in town. A new committee has formed to smear Prop 24, referring to itself as the “California Healthcare Institute Issues Committee”. Their initial filing, which the state received this week, lists Sandra Pizarro as the person controlling the committee. Pizarro is listed as a Vice President at, yes, the California Healthcare Institute.

According to its own website, the California Healthcare Institute (CHI) exists “to forward the interests of California’s biomedical community”. That’s hardly objectionable on its surface. But who calls the shots at the CHI?

Well, the board of directors includes a lot of corporate executives, some of whom work for very familiar companies. For instance, there are executives from Amgen, Pfizer, Roche (which owns Genentech), Johnson & Johnson, Edwards Lifesciences, Gen-Probe Incorporated, Abbott Laboratories, Allergan and Medtronic Inc. What do these companies have in common? They’ve each given thousands to the main committee against Prop 24, the supposed coalition including small business. Combined, they’ve already poured in over $2.7 million.

While this new committee hasn’t raised money, it clearly has an affluent donor pool to work with. More likely than not, the plan is to use the committee name to trick Californians into thinking Prop 24 would somehow harm their healthcare.

That argument won’t hold water. If anything, many Californians have seen their healthcare harmed by draconian budget cuts, cuts that will only get worse if these corporations succeed in their campaign. If we really care about healthcare issues in California, we’ll vote Yes on 24 and make these giant companies pay their fair share.

Rupert Murdoch Uses his Money to Promote Regressive Agenda- Again

Disclosure: I proudly work for Yes on 24

       Rupert Murdoch is a powerful man. The Australian billionaire owns News Corporation, which is the world’s third-largest media conglomerate. In American politics, he’s perhaps best known as the man in charge of Fox News, the self-proclaimed ‘fair and balanced’ media source that often serves as little more than a mouthpiece for right-wing agendas. The one advantage we have is that we can judge Fox News with full knowledge of what it is.

Murdoch’s use of his company to promote a political agenda extends further though. News Corp is one of several huge media corporations to shell out 6 figures to smear Proposition 24, which will be on the California ballot in November. Proposition 24 would repeal an absurd set of tax giveaways that were gift-wrapped in 2009 to large corporations during California’s budget negotiations. They are set to cost California billions of dollars desperately needed for education and other vital social services. And they have many defenders who would like nothing more than to defeat Proposition 24.

Of course, you won’t see Rupert Murdoch’s name on advertising that attacks Prop 24. Instead you’ll see a committee name that undoubtedly includes the word “jobs”, and talks about small businesses. They won’t mention that all their funding comes from large corporations like Murdoch’s, and that the money would go to them, not to small business.  

       Rupert Murdoch wants to keep that money. If he succeeds, it might get lost in a pile. Forbes Magazine estimates that Murdoch himself is worth well over $6 billion. He has not suffered the way ordinary Californians have from the economy and ongoing budget crises, and it would be ludicrous to say that he and his company need more tax giveaways.

      The share of California’s money that Murdoch wants his company to keep is the difference between keeping good teachers in their classrooms, or distributing pink slips. It is the difference between retaining the in-home care that disabled and elderly Californians rely upon, or leaving the helpless to fend for themselves.

The urgency of Proposition 24 is real, and greedy billionaires like Rupert Murdoch cannot be allowed to deny Californians what we need. Vote Yes on 24.

CEO Pay, Layoffs, and how they Affect the Election in CA

(Crossposted at Daily Kos)

Disclosure: I proudly work for the Yes on 24 campaign.

CEOs make a lot of money. This is not an original observation, nor is it a particularly surprising one. But during a difficult financial time, it does become a salient observation. Furthermore, inequality just keeps growing. CEOs of large companies are making hundreds of times what some of their workers do- and I haven’t even gotten to the people whom they no longer employ.

Because according to a recent piece in Newsweek, the inequality is worse than we thought. Not only do some CEOs make far too much money, but, as Newsweek notes:

“What’s striking is that the executives who are the most willing to ax workers also seem to be the least likely to tighten their own belts. Management guru Peter Drucker once noted that after CEO-to-worker pay ratios went above 25-1, major moral questions started to be raised. It will be hard to make employees believe that “we’re all in this together” when it becomes clear in public documents that company leaders have largely insulated themselves from any financial risk.”

Source: http://www.newsweek.com/2010/0…

There we have it. Large firms whose CEOs are firing workers are giving those same CEOs bloated pay packages. As I noted in an earlier diary on Calitics, these CEOs are putting that money to use. For instance, William Weldon of Johnson & Johnson spent millions buying beautiful lakefront properties in Florida in November 2009; at the same time his company announced the layoffs of thousands of workers. J&J may have cut their staff budget, but Weldon certainly hasn’t cut his.

Here in California, the recession has hit our budget particularly hard. Even before the worst of the economic troubles, we were being forced to make painful reductions to our budget; by now the term draconian is woefully inadequate to describe the cuts. In 2009, legislative Democrats were forced into backroom negotiations to get Republican votes to pass a budget, and the Republicans demanded a set of tax loopholes for their corporate allies. These giveaways are about to go into effect, and California’s budget hole will grow by over a billion dollars as a result. That’s despite utterly unproven claims by supporters that the loopholes will create jobs and then mitigate the revenue loss to the state. We haven’t seen a single job created by the giveaways so far, nor can we expect to.

We can’t afford that here in California. But we do have a rather famous voter initiative system, and in November we’ll vote on Proposition 24, an effort to eliminate the giveaways and make sure corporations pay their fair share. In a sad but predictable turn of events, we have a well-funded opposition, with the funding coming solely from major corporations and their CEOs. William Weldon’s company has donated $100,000 (there is no contribution limit for initiative campaigns). Weldon and his compadres stake their opposition on the bogus claim that Proposition 24 will hurt small business.

We know better. Proposition 24 is solely intended to make sure that big corporations pay their fair share, and that California gets revenue it desperately needs to save schools and vital social services. Those who can least help themselves in California are already the greatest victims of this economy. We cannot let greedy CEOs make their struggle even harder.

Learn more: Yes on Prop 24: The Tax Fairness Act

Would Prop 24 hurt Job Creation? The Evidence says No.

(Disclosure: I work for Yes on 24)

If you’ve followed the debate concerning Proposition 24, the Tax Fairness Act, then you probably know what its opponents claim. The groups funding the opposition, big corporations, want you to believe that making them pay their fair share will kill California jobs. This sets us a dichotomy we hear a lot from certain quarters: low corporate taxes mean lots of jobs for the little people.

Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it works. And what’s more, we now know that CEOs like the ones whose companies are trying to defeat Prop 24 actually have a personal disincentive to create jobs. In fact, the Institute for Policy Studies released a stunning report this year indicating that CEOs who lay off workers receive exponentially higher pay than their peers who do not. CEOs are not stupid. They know there’s an easy way to boost their own corporate reputation and paycheck, even if it comes at the expense of hardworking people lower down the totem pole.  

The report paints a grim picture, and it suggests that America desperately needs to rethink how executive compensation works. But until that happens, California voters should be deeply suspicious of CEOs who threaten that action we take will cost us jobs. Telling us that Proposition 24 is the problem in this economic climate is deeply disingenuous.

And again, those CEOs are the people telling us to reject Proposition 24. Take a look at the campaign finance disclosures for No on 24- their donors are big corporations and CEOs, not the small businesses they claim would be affected. Should we be starving our budget and ourselves to give billions to these people? California voters should say no to CEOs and Yes to 24 on November 2nd.


CEOs like J&J’s Weldon getting richer, defending tax breaks at our expense.

(Time to repeal the tax giveaway to the big corporations. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

(Disclosure: I work for the Yes on 24 campaign)

You can’t blame a CEO like Johnson & Johnson’s William Weldon for enjoying the finer things in life, even in the midst of a recession. After all, the head of the pharmaceutical giant makes ten of millions of dollars annually, according to Forbes Magazine, and can expect to see $60 million added to his bank account over a 5 year period. So when Weldon decided to drop $8.45 million on a nice piece of lakefront property in Florida in late 2009, who could fault him?

Here’s a photo of Weldon’s new digs (as with the price info, courtesy of Bnet).

Well, about 8,100 of his former employees might take issue with him. In moves that J&J described as “global restructuring initiatives”, Johnson and Johnson laid off 6-7% of their workforce, according to their own estimates. These layoffs began in November 2009.

Interesting timing, right? Earlier that same year, a backroom deal to pass the state budget instituted massive corporate tax loopholes in California, giveaways that Weldon and his company are very eager to protect. The corporate interests in favor of these giveaways claimed they would create 144,000 jobs in California and increase state revenues at the same time.

We know now that this isn’t true. Non-partisan analyses show that California will lose billions in revenue each year as the result of the giveaways, and companies like Johnson & Johnson haven’t guaranteed a single job created or saved in California. If we give away more largesse to William Weldon, we know how he’ll spend it- on lakefront homes in Florida. And when we ask his company to pay their fair share by placing Proposition 24 on the November 2010 ballot, Johnson & Johnson responds by pouring $100,000 into the campaign to defeat it. They disingenuously claim that Prop 24 will affect small  businesses, when in reality its effect is on major corporations alone.

Who are they trying to protect? Not us. Not their laid-off employees.

Vote Yes on Proposition 24. Make sure they pay their fair share.