Business Big Benefits

Fiscal Cliff Deal Brings Business Big Benefits Even As Execs Carp.

In the wake of this week’s last-minute deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, executives at some of the nation’s largest corporations have denounced the compromise, arguing that it does little to solve the nation’s long-term debt woes.

“It’s a missed opportunity to revive our economy,” said Honeywell International chief executive David Cote, one of the leading corporate voices urging a congressional accord, in a statement Wednesday.

“I think it’s a joke,” said Dick Kovacevich, former chief executive and chairman emeritus of Wells Fargo, in an interview with Reuters.

Yet many of the same executives calling for federal spending cuts and comprehensive tax reform are benefiting from billions of dollars in tax exemptions and carve-outs provided to major corporations. Executives who have banded together in recent months as part of the Campaign to Fix the Debt, a coalition of current and former politicians and business leaders, have at the same time been lobbying to preserve the tax perks their companies have enjoyed for years.

“They’re rather hypocritical about their ‘shared sacrifice,’” said Robert McIntyre, director of the progressive group Citizens for Tax Justice. “It’s shared by anyone but them.”

Honeywell’s Cote said any real debt proposal needs to include “meaningful entitlement and tax reform.” He urged leaders in Congress to “put politics aside and work out a plan that will truly help to expand the U.S. economy over the long term.”

Over the past two years, industrial conglomerate Honeywell International has spent more than $14 million lobbying in Washington, including on “international taxation and repatriation.”

Many multinational corporations, including those whose executives have come together as part of the Campaign to Fix the Debt, enjoy a benefit that allows them to indefinitely put off paying U.S. taxes on interest income earned overseas. They have lobbied for more than 15 years to preserve the so-called active-financing exemption, and Congress has repeatedly extended it.

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