Credit: Michael Vadon/Wikimedia

Donald Trump is an unlikely critic of soaring CEO pay

The Republican frontrunner has hit out at hedgies and said bosses' pay levels are 'an absolute joke.'

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 15 Mar 2016

With his $4bn (£2.6bn) fortune and support for free enterprise, you wouldn’t expect Donald Trump to be the most vocal critic of highly-paid executives. But the property magnate, who is a frontrunner in the race to be crowned Republican presidential nominee has labelled the pay packages of some American CEOs as ‘a total and complete joke.’

In an interview with CBS, Trump, who starred in the US version of The Apprentice, said high levels of pay were the result of boards failing to assert themselves and a culture of bosses being too close to non-executives.  

‘Take a company like, I could say Macy’s, or many other companies, where they put in their friends as the head of the company and they get whatever they want,’ said Trump.  It’s worth noting that Macy’s pulled Trump’s menswear range (which includes this cheeky little number) back in July, after his controversial comments on Mexican migrants.

‘That’s the system that we have and it’s a shame, it’s disgraceful and sometimes the boards rule, but I would say it’s probably less than 10%,’ he added. ‘And you see these guys making these enormous amounts of money; it’s a total and complete joke.’

He might have a point (that’s something you won’t hear MT say often). CEO pay at the top 350 American businesses has apparently soared by more than 50% since 2009. Discovery Communications boss David Zaslav took home $156m last year, a package that would make even Martin Sorrell blush, and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella received $84m. Trump's outburts won’t win him many friends in the corporate world though.

He also hit out at Wall Street’s hedge funds, which he said were funding the campaigns of his rivals Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. ‘They pay very little tax and that’s going to end when I come out with my plan in a few weeks,' he said. He wants to cut taxes for the middle class but said hedgies would be ‘paying up’ if he wins. The Trump Administration would also slash corporate levies to encourage fewer companies to avoid tax; a move that he claims could raise ‘trillions of dollars’ for government coffers.

You might think the Republicans would be crazy to nominate a maverick like Trump as their presidential candidate. But in an age when Jeremy Corbyn is leader of the opposition (and John McDonnell is shadow chancellor…) it would be foolish to write him off.

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