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Economics Mon Apr 02 2012

Bright Ideas Delivered to GE Board Member

Activists from Stand Up! Chicago delivered a light bulb piñata and some suggested "bright ideas" to the residence of General Electric board member Robert Lane on Thursday afternoon.

Mr. Lane is one of sixteen board members for the massive conglomerate that touts themselves as an admired and American company. Meanwhile over the last decade GE paid an average of just 2.3 percent in taxes on $81.2 billion in profits. The marginal tax rate on corporations sits at 35 percent. GE spent more than $84 million in lobbying expenses while garnering tax rebates totaling $4.7 billion over the last three years.

"I am not going to discuss what you are calling about," said Lane in reference to the suggestions. When asked about receiving the package he gave a positive acknowledgement of an "uh huh."

The group planned the delivery in order to appeal to the independence Lane has on the board. A few of the "bright ideas" included asking for the $3.2 billion tax return GE received in 2010 be repaid to the taxpayers and begin paying their fair share in the coming years. They want GE to create jobs here in the United States. The company cut their workforce down to 133,000 in 2010, the most recent statistics available on their site, from 165,000 in 2004.

In an even bolder demand, Stand Up! wants Lane to join them in trying to end the income gap between General Electric executives and the lowest paid employees. Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, received $11.4 million in compensation last year that included a $4 million bonus, $3.6 million in stock awards, and nearly a half million in perks.

A full-time minimum wage employee would earn $14,500 in 50 weeks under the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

Lane worked as CEO of Deere & Company until 2009 but currently serves as director of Verizon Communications Inc. and Northern Trust Corporation, and a member of the board of trustees of the University of Chicago.

As an independent director of GE's board he has been paid more than a million dollars in compensation from 2005-2008.

Watch the delivery take place:

Originally posted on The Political is Personal.

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Kman / April 2, 2012 3:07 PM

If they have 133,000 employees in the US, it means that they are paying about 1,995,000,000 in taxes annually into the US economy through their employees, assuming an average salary of $50K. GE also pays fees, sales taxes, state taxes, and some federal taxes. GE also keeps cities, states viable through employment. Many of you misunderstand primary the purpose a business. It is to 'create employment'. Only through employment, societies grow and provide wealth for citizens, not through taxation. I agree that there is greed inherent in capitalism, but I think is quite sinister to vilify a company like GE for not paying what you perceive to be 'enough' taxes.

I am neither an employee or in any way affiliated with GE. I do own GE stock.

Aaron Krager / April 4, 2012 4:31 PM

Actually the purpose of a business is to create profit for the shareholders. That's their sole responsibility. Activists like the one's in the post believe they should also be responsible citizens (corporations are people per the Supreme Court).

The taxes paid on behalf of employees can be deducted and is engrained into the cost of each employee.

You are correct they pay state taxes (depends on which state) but they lobby for loopholes and lower rates. The same goes with federal taxes. Hence GE receiving a tax rebate. Progressive activists want companies like GE to pay the actually tax rate.

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