Advocates for reducing income inequality in America are taking aim at retirement benefits in addition to pay, according to a new joint report by the Center for Effective Government and the Institute for Policy Studies, the progressive think-tank known for its annual Executive Excess report. The report, titled "A Tale of Two Retirements" in an ode to Dickens' classic tale, notes that the retirement assets of 100 Fortune 500 CEOs add up to as much as the retirement savings of 41% of American families (50 million families in total). It also lists the following "findings":
- Deferred Compensation. The report notes that Fortune 500 CEOs have a collective $3.2 billion in tax-deferred compensation accounts and asserts that CEOs saved $78 million in taxes because they were eligible for participation when other workers were not.
- Government Contractors. Federal contractors were also targeted, with the report noting (somewhat randomly) that 15 federal contractor CEOs expect to receive higher monthly retirement checks than the President.
- Gender and Race Gaps. The report notes that the 10 largest retirement funds held by female CEOs total $280 million compared to $1.4 billion for the 10 top CEOs (which were all white men) and $196 million for the top 10 CEOs of color, however, the tenures of .
- Pension Differential. IPS accuses CEOs of "increasing retirement insecurity" for workers, noting that 52% of Fortune 500 CEOs are covered by a company pension while the private sector has decreased from 35% in the early 90s to 18% in 2014.
Not surprisingly, the top five recommendations of the report all focus on CEOs, rather than improving the condition of those less well off. Specifically, the report makes the following policy recommendations:
- End unlimited tax-deferred compensation for corporate executives
- Cap tax-deferred corporate-sponsored retirement accounts at $3 million
- Eliminate tax breaks for companies that increase worker retirement insecurity
- Eliminate the “performance pay” loophole that allows unlimited corporate tax deductions for executive pay
- Prohibit large government contractors from providing executives with retirement benefits that are larger than the those of the President of the United States
- Expand Social Security benefits and require CEOs to pay their fair share
- Safeguard public pensions
- Strengthen the ability of all workers to unionize
- Support universal retirement plans.