April 11th, 2008
11:15 AM ET
14 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. NW Independent

    What's funny is that CEO pay in most cases is already fully disclosed and shareholders are free to comment as they see fit.

    Just another smoke and mirror populist push by BHO.

    His judgement is already suspect.

    Just look at the company he has kept for 20 years!

    April 11, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  2. Liz W

    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?

    April 11, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  3. Maggie

    Sounds like a Bush presidency to me!!!

    April 11, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  4. Peter

    I was under the impression that several of Barack's good friends were very well compensated CEOs. I haven't seen him turn his back on them.

    Hillary '08

    April 11, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  5. Uncle Sam

    Most Americans, including myself, applaud the prospect of a man of color becoming president. However, the majority of the American people have come to view Sen. Obama as an unacceptable choice. While all would agree that Sen. Obama demonstrates a keen intellect and eloquence, it is simply unconscionable that we would elect a virtually unknown freshman senator with questionable judgment to the most powerful job on the planet.

    Americans for McCain '08

    April 11, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. The Austrian

    Senators, Congressmen and Presidents are also overpaid, especially since every penny of their paycheck is lifted coercively from the pocketbooks of the American Taxpayer.

    Shame on both of you.

    April 11, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  7. Time 4 Action

    A socialist country might be better for Americans. The way things are going it appears America really doesnt care for its own citizens.

    April 11, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. Candi SC

    John explain the bully pulpit to hold them accountable?

    April 11, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  9. Ashley

    GO OBAMA....

    McCain is full of lies, and its the same thing served up differently with the republicans!

    April 11, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  10. Christian, Tampa FL

    Well, McCain supports more tax breaks for corporations, so it makes you wonder if the CEO thing is all talk. Also, why is it that McCain's advisor Rick Davis has huge ties to a lobbying firm that, among other things, has a long relationship with the pro-Putin, anti-Western side of Ukrainian politics? Why isn't this reported in the news more?

    April 11, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  11. honkey white guy from cali

    mark you apparently need to do your homework go to his web site see his plans then post again also if you look at his past that most you Clinton supporters claims he has none. you will find even when he was a state rep he fought for these reforms do your homework or don't post Mc Cain and Clinton can not support this because CEO and large corporations is who pays there bills or in the case of MC Cain they are barley doing that.

    April 11, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  12. Donna, MS

    Barack is right. Look at McCain's record–hello Keating 5?

    Obama 08

    April 11, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  13. Michael, ATL

    Exactly what are you "with" McCain about on this issue? McCain hasn't done squat either. A month ago he didn't think homeowners should be bailed out in any way shape or form, but now he's suddenly changed his mind and suggesting homeowners should be refinanced at the market value of their primary residence. That's nice but Rep Barney Frank (D-MA) already beat him to it.

    McCain is just trying to catch the political wind. I don't think he's the least bit sincere. I expect him to be a typical Republican and hop right in bed with big-bizzness if he's elected.

    April 11, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. Faye Rose

    The Dems don't want to do anything but help average Americans. It seems that we keep getting screwed by the right wing and you all keep asking for more. What don't you understand about the economic mess the Republicans including McCain have spearheaded this last 7 going on 8 years. And frankly speaking I think McCain is to old and can't remember a thing to be a president during these trying times that your man "Bush" put us in. You people need to put aside your attitudes and for once vote for your best interest, not for no other reason.

    April 11, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. Kathy

    McCain is attacking Obama because he's the only one who could beat him.

    April 11, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. Steve

    This issue in my view can never be completely resolved. Compensation should be linked to performance! I'm all for CEO's making millions of dollars, they put in amazingly long hours, traveling, stress, responsibility etc., however, I am not a fan of these heads reaping millions from a golden parachute when their firms are losing investors millions, even billions of dollars. An independent board can help curb some of this nonsense, and having the chairman of the board, not the CEO himself as in most companies, would also help with this. My problem is how independent can a borard really be. Its human nature to become attached to the people you work with.

    April 11, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  17. Lee - Austin, TX

    Mark, from Michigan: what has John McCain done…except of course to change his policy on key issues like this, the Bush tax cuts, the state of the Iraq war (worse now than when he said our strategy wasn't working), immigration, and the homeowner/real estate crisis. Tell me?? What has he done that includes action over words (within the last 8 years, meaning not including the fact that he's a war hero) which would make him more credible to you than someone within your own party? Positions that he held so dear just two years ago, so dear that he went against his own party to defend them, are now issues that he has completely given in to the GOP on. So you let me know…if actions speak louder than words, what does John McCain's betrayal of his own convictions tell you about his leadership qualities? Clinton or Obama 08…no more American $$$ for Iraqi civil war!!!

    April 11, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. J houston, TX

    People who intend to vote Democrat.

    If you want to pay higher taxes, you can simply make a donation to the US Treasury Department. That's all you have to do. Those of us that don't want more of our hard earned money taken away can then keep it.

    April 11, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. Johnson

    Its the republicans who wants socialism. They are all talk about no government action and nothing else. Yet it was under the Bush administration that the power of the government has grown. TRILLIONS of our tax payers dollars are going to sponsor the government and their expansion. Where is the low government policy there? Every single pledge that George bush gave before the elections have been overturned and he has gone back on every single one of them.

    To all democrats who think that McCain is better than Obama, I ask you where has the republican party lead us thus far? Into a war? Spending more of your money? Higher gas prices? McCain is a respectable figure no doubt, but this individual has completely changed his tone and has tried repeatedly to be in line with republican policies of the bush administration. If you liked the Bush presidency, then by all means vote for McCain. However, if you truly want change, vote for the democratic party irregardless of who the nominee is because I can guarantee you that they support democratic ideas.

    April 11, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. Interested viewer

    Obama is absolutely right on this. It's a key defining issue between the parties. The Republican Party's control over the last 7 1/2 years has meant a 7 1/2 year "party" for the large companies and their CEOs, while the average American has borne the brunt of the economic downturn.

    April 11, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. kathleen retired Professional w/woman for obama

    Mark, MI
    You have got to be kidding! This man stays up at night dreaming
    up what in the hell he has to talk about. He doesn't know any thing
    about the economy. These are pipe dreams. He wants the rich
    to keep making lots of money, that includes CEO's they are his
    friends, for Gods' sake.

    April 11, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  22. Dana

    We are in a recession, everyday people are losing their jobs, houses and any hope for a bright future. We are in a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and soldiers are dying. Voting for McCain is the same as voting for Bush all over again. I will not vote for Clinton because everything she says is one big lie. Being a POW does not a President make.

    April 11, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. Dylan

    Hey Mark... "with McCain," huh? Stop kidding yourself. You are NOT a Democrat. This goes for all others willing to vote for a warmonger and corporate sellout with no economic plan. I simply cannot see the logic behind you "Democrats" willing to vote against everything the Democratic Party stands for. Truly short-sighted and petty. Please post this, CNN.

    April 11, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. Chris in Michigan

    I love the ignorance of the two above statements. As if Clinton or McCain WOULD do something, neither of them have offered their suggestions on how to CHANGE this issue either. Obama's words hold weight, otherwise there wouldn't be millions of people going to the polls to vote for him. Governments are, in essence, legal mafia's. Senators Clinton and McCain are part of the old Mafia that promises things but fails time and time again to follwo through with their words, give this so called "upstart" his change to proove his money is where is mouth is.

    Independant for Obama '08

    April 11, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  25. Ryan

    I worked at a factory for a time a while back. Every year, we were suppose to get "bonuses." These bonuses were based on how sales from the current year were better than sales of the previous year, it had nothing to do with performance of the individual employee. So when in 2006, sales were only about 10% better than the previous year, we got no bonus. Shortly after that, we got our yearly statement mailed to us from corporate, showing how the company board made six and seven digit salaries, and gave themselves bonuses of 2 to 3 times their salaries on top of it. Seems irresponsible to me when the board can get 7 million dollars in bonuses, but the employees get no bonus because sales weren't good enough. Apparently none of that 7 million dollars could be given to any employees, even say 10 dollars to each employee. I have no problem with CEO's making the money that they do, but you'd think they could do something for the employees that keep the business going so they can get their comfy pay.

    April 11, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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