April 11th, 2008
11:15 AM ET
15 years ago

Obama, McCain clash on CEO pay

At a press conference in Indianapolis, Barack Obama said that when it comes taking action against excessive CEO compensation, John McCain is all talk.

The McCain campaign quickly responded, calling the comments a "cheap political attack."

(full exchange after the jump)

Key Obama excerpt:

"I know Senator McCain had some sharp words the other day about what some CEOs are getting paid. And I was glad to hear it. But when he’s had the chance to do something about this problem, he’s opted for continuing the do-nothing approach of the Bush years. And this seems to be a trend with Senator McCain. Yesterday, he finally proposed some steps to deal with our housing crisis. And I’m glad he’s moving in the right direction, but what he’s proposing isn’t enough to really help struggling families.
"So I respect John McCain. He’ll be a worthy opponent. But we can’t afford another four years of policies that don’t make a difference in the lives of ordinary Americans, and that’s what John McCain is offering."

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds' response:

“Once again, Senator Obama’s words don’t match his actions. Apparently Senator Obama thinks cheap political attacks and typical Washington shenanigans substitute for real leadership. Corporate boards have the power to serve shareholders and make CEO pay match performance. John McCain believes cozy relationships with boards should not allow irresponsible CEOs to rake in millions on the backs of small investors. John McCain is committed to using the bully pulpit of the presidency to hold them accountable.”

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. Chris, Denver CO

    yep, when all the other side can say is "it's a cheap political attack," then you know you are right. CEOs are overpaid. The failed policies of sending it all to the top will only bring ruin.

    April 11, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  2. Wendy

    Oh yea. This from Obama, who secured a $1M dollar deal for his wife's employer which also, by the way, gave Michelle more than $200,000 pay increase. Obama, don't preach to me about CEO pay.

    April 11, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. Tony C.

    MATT: I agree. I said that if Obama was the nominee, for the first time since I was old enought to vote, that I would sit this one out. However, I got to thinking the same thing. As terrible as I think he would be, anyone, even Obama (I say with jaw clenched) is better than another McCain(bush) term!

    We have to hvae a Dem back in the White House!

    April 11, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. D.Steele

    I do not have time to get upset about how much money a CEO makes, it's the amount of tax he pays that makes me mad.
    Give me a flat tax system, no deductions for anything. I pay 20% he pays 20%, the FED will have all the money it needs to fix this country.

    April 11, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  5. Mark in Kalamazoo

    Why is it that we are now telling people how much money they can or cannot make?? This is America, the land of opportunity... what right does anyone have to tell someone that they cannot make as much money as they are making if they are making it legally???

    April 11, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. Kal

    The government has NO, absolutely NO, constitutional right to say what is fair pay or not. They have no right to get involved in the free market, no matter what that market does, READ your contsitution people.
    This country was built on the premise of small government, not BIG.

    April 11, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. Joe

    Obama is all talk. Obama has yet to do anything. McCain at least has a record of action. Obama uses words like courage too easily in his speeches. We need a president who has courage to do what is right. Obama has never needed courage, because he hasn't done anything.

    April 11, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  8. Dallas

    I encourage everyone to look deeper into our choices for presidency before making judgement.

    Are you focusing on logic or emotion?
    Are you focusing on each candidate's policies or do speeches/ads/marketing/image matter more?
    Is age, race, religion, or gender a significant attribute, or do you care more about experience and leadership qualities?
    There are so many issues...have you done your homework to know where each one stands?

    Any politician can say anything. Shouldn't actions be more important?

    April 11, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. Trip H

    John McCain is by far the worst choice this country could ever hope for. He is another George W. without any doubt or hesitation. I can say many nice things about Obama and Clinton – but when it comes to McCain – UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 11, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  10. El Queso Grande

    Yes, by all means, let's have the government set the salaries for ALL workers... starting with big mouth Washington Politicians, sports figures and empty-headed Hollywood types. Then after even those buffoons all balk at the notion, we can move on to more pressing issues, like why Economics IS NOT a mandatory K-12 required course.

    April 11, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  11. MIKE

    "How can we trust Obama, after hearing on Cable TV that he is getting hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars from Wall Street and billionaires. Aren't these people the ones getting these huge compensation packages. Come Obama stop sending smoke screens. You have been caught, but for some reason some of your follower are deaf, dumb and blind. But, they will wake up and you will lose because you are lying to all the voters. I really think you should be brought up on fraud allegations. Why would Hannity & Colmes lie to the public?"

    Fox News not lie to the public? Are you kidding me?

    April 11, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  12. Hilary

    "If you let them take away money from rich people, they might do the same thing to you when you get rich! Let us keep our money and then you can keep yours someday when you're in our place!"

    Story ime's over. You're not going to be rich. You're going to work hard all your life and earn enough to get by. If you are lucky, you might even earn more than that, but you will never, ever earn as much in your entire life as the CEO of Exxon Mobile did last year. You have absolutely nothing to gain by continuing to allow corporate officers to maintain enmeshed relationships with their boards so that they can set their own pay levels–to the detriment of the shareholders, by the way. Demanding that directors and officers adhere to the laws of corporate governance so that the corporate entity functions as it was intended to function is NOT socialism, so stop letting them frighten you with that bogeyman. And stop letting them trick you into thinking you'll be "one of them" someday. It's how they get you to feel bad for them. Don't feel bad for them.

    April 11, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  13. Curtis

    If this BLOG for this article is any indication (it is not a "scientific poll".)

    Voting for:

    Obama 44
    Clinton 18
    McCain 25

    With a possible error of 8+/-....

    Adding my own spin, Obama wins by a Knockout..

    - ANYONE else, just not More-Of-The-Same-McCain...

    PS... McCain is NOT a moderate.

    April 11, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  14. Alex

    I'm a democrat, but I also believe issues like this should be determined by shareholders not politicians. The problem is that shareholders are apathetic and do nothing. They should demand that boards and compensation committees force CEO's to be paid on performance, not promise. This is a slippery slope. Once you legislate CEO pay, who is next? COO, EVP's? Let the market determine salary by insisting on balanced boards without personal ties to the CEO. Last time I checked, we were still a capitalistic country.

    April 11, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  15. Ron

    Hey Trip..... Did your mother fall having you and that's why she named you like she did????

    April 11, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. Andy


    April 11, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  17. R.I.F.

    "Believes in Hillary"

    Every time I hear someone bashing Obama, I see the name Rev. Wright. My goodness...people are dying in Iraq, the economy is in the tank and you are going to vote for a third term of Bush-onimics because of a 10 second clip of something that someone else said. Are you kidding me? We know the real reason why some of you don't want to vote for Obama and now you have a nice little excuse....

    If you want to be upset about some ex-pastor and see another 4000 caskets shipped back from Iraq over the next 4 years then you deserve your McCain. Hope you’re in the higher tax bracket and don't have any close relatives serving in the military. I am and I don't so go ahead and cast your vote for McCain.

    Obama '08

    April 11, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  18. Mike

    Well nothing I have ever posted has made it into the discussion, but I will try anyway.

    April in Texas... Please do me a favor. Explain Senator Obama's and Senator McCain's economic proposals to me, Including figures, so that I can make an informed decision between the two. You seem, through your tax comments, to know something about them. Please enlighten me! For instance, what does "wealthy" mean to Obama? In other words, what is the income cutoff for receiving/keeping the Bush tax cuts? I do know that my taxes went down and my paycheck went up; however, I don't make enough money to pay my bills every month so I hope that is not taken away from me IF Obama is elected. If so, I will just be further behind, and believe me, I do not make a lot of money. SO, if you can convince me that I will still benefit, maybe I'll vote for the guy.

    April 11, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. JohnJlws

    I read more folks than makes me comfortable saying "if not Clinton than McCain" and even some who say "if not Obama than McCain."

    I'm an enthusiastic Obama supporter and a republican (up until I voted for the first time since Gary Hart's first presidential run in the Texas democratic primary, so I guess I'm a democrat whatever those labels mean anymore) and if Obama somehow fails to secure the nomination, I'm working my tail off for Hillary. The republicans have raped this country in the last 8 years, they've lied, they had the greatest opportunity to unite this world following 9-1-1 and they blew it , they weakened our military and strengthened terrorist organizations, and they did it all out of selfishness and in spite of contrary opinion. They deserve the dog house and not the White House.

    So for those who think that McCain is even remotely better than either of the potential democratic nominees, I offer the last 8 years as testament to making a different decision. If we don't we're going to be more sorry than is readily within the reach of imagination.

    April 11, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  20. jason

    ONN=Obama Netwk News.
    Too many Sheeps are here drinking Kool Aide. I better move to FoxsNew

    April 11, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  21. larry I

    It is a pity that Americans are still not ready for the truth they still want to go to war. In as much as human relationship is concern the Americans should think about their future not to bank on sweet talks from the republicans . They know nothing than to establish problems where there is peace.. For how long should Americans be misled.


    April 11, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  22. Not a clue

    I'm not sure where people are getting the idea that Obama is getting payouts from "Wall Street Billionares" unless it's from the Fox network, which is notoriously right-biased, and constantly broadcasts distortions about anyone that doesn't toe Bush's party line. Obama is not getting payouts from Wall Street. His campaign funds are being given to him by little people, and others who are contributing within the law. Whether you like who is giving him the funds or not, just like Hillary, he's getting them legally. At over twice the rate that Hillary has been able to do. Hmmmmm...people are giving him more money than Hillary. I wonder if anyone would care to guess what that means........ I gave to Hillary early on. Now I want my money back.

    April 11, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |

    Let the corporations do what they want and not watch out and you have another ENRON AND SHAREHOLDERS WILL LOSE AS WELL AS THE AMERICAN PUBLIC WITH THERE 401K PLAND WORTHLESS. So McCain and his do nothing ways will have us all broke and in the streets. The way it seems with him is the corporate knows what is best. What a joke you know it is the old boys club to the max and McCain is a charter member.

    April 11, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  24. Peter from N.J

    So I respect John McCain. He’ll be a worthy opponent.
    Barack remember these words.
    If you are the democratic nominee which I don't believe you are going to be you not even imagine what the republicansy would do to you with the specific reverend Wright .

    Hillary 08

    April 11, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  25. DoubleTalker

    The truth is — no candidate takes money from oil companies because it is illegal to accept donations from corporations. But companies employees can give — either individually or through political action committees.

    Obama does not take money from oil companies — but he has received nearly $214,000 from oil and gas industry executives and their families.

    Yes, he takes money from those very same CEO's that he now says make too much money..

    April 11, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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