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Cavuto And Payne Baselessly Suggest Obama Wants To Limit All CEO Pay

Reported by Ellen - August 15, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Brian

On Friday's (8/14/09) Your World, host Neil Cavuto got together with a fellow conservative, Charles Payne, to discuss pay and car czars. There was no liberal in the discussion. Referring to the pay czar, Payne said, "This is the tip of the iceberg. At the end of the day, just listen to the campaign trail. I really, sincerely believe that President Obama wants us to have a simpler country where there aren't really super wealthy. Maybe the CEO of a Fortune 500 company makes a million dollars, but we all live a new sort of reality like out of a Voltaire book, all the other enlightened thinkers out of Europe, where we live a simpler life. And I think it's something to legitimately be afraid of." With video.

Cavuto noted that “the understanding is” that the pay czar is “for companies that are still on the government dole.” But, he added, "Your worry has been that actually… this extends way beyond them, that it sets a pattern."

"Absolutely,” Payne said. “It's easy to start with Citigroup, and they took $50 billion, yeah, we have a right to have a say there. General Motors, $80 billion. I think you set a precedent,… a chill factor where initially what you do is you hammer these particular industries, but the implication to all industries, particularly the ones that have been pointed out: health insurers, doctors, drug companies, we know the companies that are… gonna be within… the crosshairs, if you will. You imply to them, ‘You see what we're doing here, the next step will be you.’"

"Keep your head low," Cavuto chimed in.

Payne continued, "This is why everyone watching should be afraid, because if the CEO is making less, you’re going to be making less, too."

In fact, Obama's not proposing to cap wages for all, just those CEO's and executives of financial institutions who received bailouts. These are scare tactics designed to whip up more fear and antagonism toward Obama. As Media Matters wrote about another instance where Fox News made the same baseless accusation,

In announcing the appointment of Kenneth Feinberg to oversee executive compensation at financial firms still holding funds authorized under TARP, Geithner stated: "We are not capping pay. We are not setting forth precise prescriptions for how companies should set compensation, which can often be counterproductive. Instead, we will continue to work to develop standards that reward innovation and prudent risk-taking, without creating misaligned incentives." By contrast to the Fox & Friends discussion, a June 10 New York Times article reported, "The rules reveal a strong reluctance among some of President Obama's advisers to intrude more deeply into corporate boardrooms, government officials said."

The administration further announced support for legislation authorizing the Securities and Exchange Commission to require publicly traded companies to allow shareholders annual nonbinding votes on executive compensation, and legislation authorizing the SEC to establish rules to strengthen the role of independent audit committees at public companies. Neither proposal would give the government the right to set pay rate.

The fact that Fox News keeps returning to these baseless accusations indicates they are more interested in whipping up fear and antagonism toward Obama than they are in explicating the actual issues.