October 20th, 2009
07:25 PM ET

Evening Buzz: CEO Perks Outrage

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

This will likely get you fired up. As some of the nation's biggest financial firms were getting billions of federal money to save them last fall, they were boosting their perks to company CEOs.

We're talking about personal use of corporate jets, free company cars, paid dues for country clubs - and some of them even got all the taxes paid on their perks.

Simply put, as the economy was sinking, their perks were going up.

Tonight, we're naming names. Find out which top executives at the time were getting extra loot. We'll tell you what CEO got almost $5 million in perks. Yes, $5 million. That's just one fat cat. There are many others.

Do you think the perks should be allowed or should the federal government clamp down on them? Sound off below.

We also have new details on the sweat lodge deaths in Arizona. A former follower of self-help guru James Arthur Ray is speaking out, sharing what she says goes on at his retreats. Three people have died as a result of the sweat lodge ceremony last week. Police are treating the deaths as homicides. Though, no charges have been filed.

And, don't miss Anderson's interview with actress and activist Eva Longoria Parker. Hear how she's trying to change the image of Latinos in Hollywood. It's all part of CNN's special report "Latinos in America", airing tomorrow and Thursday night at 9pm ET.

Join us tonight for these stories and much more starting at 10pm ET. See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. JohnD

    At the end of the day it's up to the American people to make the changes. We actually to get out and VOTE in EACH election, not just for the President. This is the only way we can keep our elected officials honest and working for us. We can't, and shouldn't, control how corporations spend the money they earn (not get from the tax payers). We the people should take a look at the companies we support by buying their services. If you don't like the fact that Goldman Sachs is paying out huge bonus' to it's people – use another firm. As a worker for a firm paying these huge sums to "fat cats" – find another company to work for or ban together and start a new firm that won't do the things you despise.

    October 21, 2009 at 8:23 am |
  2. Gloria Russell

    My husband and I are trying desperately to hold on to our house even as I type this comment. We are five months behind on our house payments. We contacted the bank before we got behind and asked if we qualify for the programs that Present Obama put in place, and was told the only way we could qualifiy was for us to be ninty days behind. We stated that we were trying not to let that happen we wanted to avoid getting in that situation. Suddenly my husband found himself laid off' by GM and we eventully fell behind. We contacted our bank again hoping that we would qualify for the program and was told in order for us to qualify we could not be in default. And now you say they have taken my tax dollars in the from of personal bounas for their own personal use. Well now that we are five month in the rear, Id like to ask, do you think I could get my tax dollars back so I can get catch up my house payment. At 63 years of age I can think of a lot of places to spend the winter months besides, sitting on the side of the road with all my husband and personal affects. 🙁

    October 21, 2009 at 2:33 am |
  3. William Benefield

    There is a huge problem with the CEO's of America These CEO's tend to believe that the company they are running is their company. It is NOT. The CEO's are employees of the public trading company. I believe that it is finally time for the share-holders of America to rain on the CEO's parade and the totally unwarrented compensation that they receive. Here is my proposal: I BELIEVE THAT A CEO SHOULD ONLY MAKE A MAXIMUM OF 100 TIMES WHAT THE LOWEST PAID EMPLOYEE RECIEVES. That means if the lowest paid employee makes $70,000, a CEO should only receive only a maximum of 7 million as their total compensation for the job they do.

    October 21, 2009 at 2:20 am |
  4. Debra Adkins

    Outrage,,,,YES!!! These SUPPOSED Amercan,,, CEOs that are robbing fellow Americans.. They should be chased out of their job... So Sorry that you are in the position you are in...(chocking here) I have dry eyes for you... How could you sleep knowing you are ripping off fellow Americans. The employees should run you out on a rail. Tax payers money being used to give you perks. Is no one telling you if not your concience that this is wrong your GREED IS APPAULING!! I SUGGEST AMERICANS BOYCOTT YOUR BUSINESSES.. ANYONE THAT IS RIPPING OFF THIS COUNTRY AND IT'S PEOPLE. SHOULD GO BANKRUPT....Hopefully being a threat to others who would do this.
    What has happened to this country? Greed is running thru the veins of the Rich being made richer,,,,Shame...We need a morals injection more than flu serum....Keep listing these pigs.....thank you for letting me vent...

    October 21, 2009 at 1:57 am |
  5. benjamin

    No company should ever increase their employee's salaries when their not profitable especially with tax payer's money!!

    October 21, 2009 at 1:44 am |
  6. pattie

    We are struggling with paying for medical bills from my husbands surgery. The hospital is threatening us to pay up or else. We have health insurance and are still struggling with the costs. Meanwhile the 'making home affordable' program has not been any help for us. We haven't missed any payments so the bank is not interested in helping us even though I am unemployed, we have huge medical costs and risk losing our home since the value of it is far less than we paid for and the mortgage is nearly 80% of our current income. The whole program is being abused by the banks, they are NOT helping the people who need it, they want us to go into foreclosure so they can steal the home from us and dump us into the street. Then to see these people get money/bonuses is such an insult to us.

    October 21, 2009 at 1:42 am |
  7. Wini

    Perks as incentives to do your job? How about not having to stand in the unemployment line being a good enough incentive for these big egos!

    Get rid of these thieving bums. Just because someone received a college degree doesn't make them wise!

    October 21, 2009 at 1:31 am |
  8. Rick

    Simply put – Prosecution for fraud is needed.
    This type of behavior must not be rewarded. In fact lets just shoot them
    and send the bill to the family. It is way past time to be even having this

    October 21, 2009 at 1:16 am |
  9. joseph common

    PERKS FOR PIRATES! thanks to the rep from ohio for standing up to these greedy thieving bullies. they are not leaders, they're PIRATES.

    October 21, 2009 at 1:11 am |
  10. Levi

    Generally, people with no accountability act with no accountability. Why would we think people in these positions would act in any other way? Ethics isn't law.

    October 21, 2009 at 1:09 am |
  11. Kenneth C. Harris

    WOW!! Are you serious? How do those excutives sleep at night knowing that the economy is going down the drain and there just riding high? You have got to be just one heartless person to be doing something like that and not think twice about it. Well, I guess since they think that they're CEO's of companies that the recession shouldn't affect them in any kind of way. Those CEO's are just greedy and needs to be dealt with in the way that a criminal would be dealt with.

    October 21, 2009 at 1:04 am |
  12. Darrel

    This all goes back to a corporation having the same rights and privledges as a person, but none of the responsibility

    October 21, 2009 at 12:55 am |
  13. William Cobb

    We don't have worry about Iran. Greed, is what is going to take this country down.

    October 21, 2009 at 12:49 am |
  14. Grant Quigley

    maybe we should have been outraged back when the gov't decided to bail out the banks in the first place. . . it was like rewarding bad behavior. or maybe we should have been outraged back when the gov't was encouraging the practices that led to the over-inflation of the housing bubble and its eventual collapse. to be outraged now is just silly, and pointless.

    October 21, 2009 at 12:49 am |
  15. Tony

    My family runs a small Chevy dealership in a small Kentucky town. GMAC has our floor plan on new and used cars. They made us put up $50,000.00 in a reserve fund because they said they were worried about our business. Well we are still in business working hard ever day. We needed that money in our business but we sent it to them because we worried they would pull our floorplan. All the time they are running GMAC in the ground, having partys flying jets all over the place. This burns my a$$ when I here this story. By the way they still have to money.

    October 21, 2009 at 12:47 am |
  16. Jay

    Ok where's mine??? I am the taxpayer who has foot the bill for this and I got nothing in return! I suggest as the mid-term elections come up send all the politicians home and replace them with people that will work for us nor Wall Street.

    People unemployed, losing their homes, health coverage etc and the fat cats are walking away clean. It was a mistake to bail them out we shoud have let them all go under and start new!!

    October 21, 2009 at 12:47 am |
  17. Jason

    It is up to the shareholders to decide if the CEO is worth what they are paying them...

    government has no place in private industry.

    People against "big business" need to put away their ipods and take off their pumas and realize all the cool stuff they think they are entitled to has come off the sweat of others.

    Live for yourself!

    October 21, 2009 at 12:45 am |
  18. Brown

    Not one of the companies CEO or executives earned the perks or bonuses, they all allowed their companies to sink. They gambled and bet on the come, and lost. They asked for help to cover their bets, the Feds, Treasury and the Government all came to their aid.
    What do you get when you ask for help ? alot of red tape, we can't even get unemployment extended without a hugh process !
    They all got hugh $$$ without fillng out one piece of paper, making some lame promise and a handshake. We as a Country have a real intregrity issue, the rules of honesty, no longer exist.
    Everyone of those Companies were in the red ! Sad state of affairs.

    October 21, 2009 at 12:24 am |
  19. cjl

    People fail to realize that a CEO's sole job and #1 priority is to make money for their company, by whatever means necessary. Consider it checks and balances. It is their purpose. Stop stoning them. The job is higher stress than most average americans can bear and they are responsible for billions of dollars and thousands of lives. If you don't understand it, you haven't thought it through enough or are not able to visualize yourself in that situation.

    October 21, 2009 at 12:20 am |
  20. cjl

    Give me a break. Stop whining, get competitive and become a CEO and you will get perks too. If not, the world always needs hacks. For God's sake this is America. Its not the land of handouts. its the land of hard work and success, and the rewards that come with it.

    October 21, 2009 at 12:17 am |
  21. Andrew

    I wish i am on the receiving side, I am just totally jealous because I am not receiving these fat cheque and perks therefore I complain.

    October 21, 2009 at 12:16 am |
  22. Annie Kate

    I think perks should be done away with – the people getting them and giving/taking them have no conscience at all and no shame it seems. How can anyone take perks that amount to millions of dollars when their company is going bankrupt, when they have laid off a lot of the workers or are planning to....there is just no shame or responsibility it seems – just people out for as much as they can get even at the expense of the rest of the country. Congress should outlaw perks – these CEOs make enough money without them.

    October 21, 2009 at 12:03 am |
  23. Kathleen

    Top executives and fat cat's should not be able to make more than 25 times the lowest paid member of the company. Period. This should include all forms of compensation, stock options, special health plans and perks, company cars, bonuses -everything. What the heck, do these guys think they are ball players?

    October 21, 2009 at 12:01 am |
  24. diane

    of course the government should clamp down on them. And sue them to get our money back. And pass legislation establishing a maximum wage that include all the perks as wages. Europeans would never stand for this, why do we? We are being taken to the cleaners by a few: why do we allow this? Time for the majority to say NO to the few and use that money equitably.

    October 21, 2009 at 12:01 am |
  25. Mark

    Just like actors and professional athletes, a person deserves to be paid whatever the market says they are worth and whatever their specific employer says they are worth. If you are not happy with that system, go work in a system that rewards you more for the number of years you have worked/endured in your job (read tenure) than for your actual performance on the job.

    If these high-paid CEOs were not worth their compensation, their shareholders and boards of directors would have them out looking for work elsewhere. They are hired guns that have no loyalty to their employees or their corporations. They are hired to raise the stock price and generate shareholder value. If they don't accomplish that goal, much like a coach in any major college or professional sports team, they are fired and another hired gun is brought in. Why are we so willing to chastize these CEOs? If it were me or you that had worked 25 or 30 years to become that best at what we do, we would think we were worth every penny; and a little bit more.

    Stop the rhetoric! Stop the class envy! Let's encourage everyone to be the best at whatever it is that we do and reward those who become the very best of the best. That is what separates this great country of ours from most others in the world. The freedoms we enjoy are shared by so few around the world. Let's honor and cherish them and fight for them if we have to.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:55 pm |
  26. Thomas

    Executives are glad to take their compensation in any form it is offered by the board of directors. There is probably intense lobbying behind the board's action (and their selection before). So the underlying question is the lack of sane and responsible judgement on the part of that corporate entity that also the recipient of overly generous compensation for doing little more than looking the other way.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:55 pm |
  27. Bobby

    Why is everyone complaining so much over this? CEO pay is not the issue this country should be so focused on. We're just as well served to complain about athletes salaries. This is market driven folks, and that's capitalism at it's best.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:52 pm |
  28. Mike

    Everyone keeps saying that we have to get back to when greed was not a factor. When exactly was that? Please remember your history...from the birth of the nation through the civil war to the beginning of the 20th century, we have been a country driven by greed. The masses have always worked for the few. It is how it has always been.

    Also remember...The United States was set up as a Republic not a capitalist democracy. We have allowed ourselves to get to this point. We all need to take blame. Unfortunately, from the middle class to the rich all the way to our elected officials...no one is taking blame.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:46 pm |
  29. Tom

    There are a lot of business execs who have taken serious hits during this crisis. Every officer of my company gave up 50% of their pay for the past year and employees gave up 10% to try to weather this storm. I'm not talking about guys making millions – we're a small company. There is absolutely no sense of sacrifice from Wall Street.

    It is unacceptable that the companies that created this mess are profiting from the misery they have caused everyone else. I have never been keen on taxing the rich but I am beginning to think that anyone who earns over 1 million a year should pay half of any excess in taxes unless they own the business. 100 million dollar bonuses for hired help is obscene! These guys for all the glitter are no more than robber barrons – they create nothing but wealth for themselves and burn whatever gets in the way.

    If things were really so bad that they needed government bailouts how is it that they are making such obscene profits before the year is out?

    October 20, 2009 at 11:43 pm |
  30. Derek

    Everyone comenting on this topic seems angry but I think they are really filled with envy. Life is to short to get upset about what you don't have and what others do have. This is the same reaction that the AIG bonus payments got. Maybe you should have been outraged at Obama, he is the one that signed off on that. Maybe he should have read the bill or at least go one of his dozens of staff memebers to. These types of perks have and always will be there. We are all entitled to the same rights under the law not the dollar.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:43 pm |
  31. kurt

    You would think that the companies that have received TARP loans/bailouts would at least do their part to keep some of the money in the country by hiring American workers.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:39 pm |
  32. Kris Martin

    Here's an idea for a "stimulus plan." Instead of feeding money to these big companies, why not offer to pay a portion of each citizen's credit card debt. The bank's get their money, the credit card balance decreases-resulting in less of our money being used to pay the interest, and people can start spending again. At a time when we need credit more than ever, the card companies are putting caps on our credit and hiking the interest rate.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:37 pm |
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