Our Nitwit CEOs

By Begala, Paul | Newsweek, December 10, 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Our Nitwit CEOs

Begala, Paul, Newsweek

Byline: Paul Begala

What the smart guys don't understand about politics.

Businesspeople are fond of saying politicians don't know anything about business. While in the main that is true, the opposite is also true: business geniuses are often political numskulls.

Case in point: the Campaign to Fix the Debt--a dream team of CEOs, including registered Democrats like Goldman Sachs's Lloyd Blankfein and Honeywell CEO (and Obama supporter) David Cote. These are smart people. Smart enough that they can grasp the fiscally obvious: America must pay down its debt. And it can only do so through a combination of increased revenue and restrained spending.

So far so good. Fix the Debt should follow the lead of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who campaigns for higher taxes for upper-income Americans. Buffett's courage, clarity, and common sense make it easier for Republicans to do the responsible thing. After all, Buffett is hardly a Marxist. Drawing on decades of experience during which he made billions, Buffett notes that when both capital-gains and income-tax rates were much higher than today, the economy boomed.

This is elementary. And yet some of the platinum-plated CEOs currently sounding off about the politics of debt reduction don't seem to understand their role. Instead of patriotically calling on their fellow millionaires to pay a little more, they are lecturing the poor and the middle class on the need to cut entitlements, and even A-advocating--get this--zero taxes on corporations. That's right, zero. Honeywell's Cote has actually called for a corporate tax rate of zilch-point-nada. As the great political mind Homer Simpson might say, "D'oh!"

Millionaire CEOs calling for higher taxes on the rich is Nixon to China. Millionaire CEOs calling for cutting health care for the elderly while eliminating taxes on corporate profits is more like Mao to China. They no doubt have their hearts in the right place. Debt is a major long-term challenge, and the cost of Medicare and Medicaid has exploded, as has private-sector health care.

But what Blankfein, Cote, and other business titans don't seem to grasp is that struggling seniors or families with a special-needs child are not eager to hear CEOs tell them, as Blankfein recently did, "You're going to have to undoubtedly do something to lower people's A-expectations--the entitlements and what people think that they're going to get, because .

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Our Nitwit CEOs


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?