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Elon Musk Tops Bernie Sanders’ Inequality Tax Hit List

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:04 PM
Melanie Kramer
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:04 PM

Senator Bernie Sanders’ new tax proposition targets companies where the pay gap between average worker wages and their CEO’s big buck payments is the greatest.

Tesla’s Elon Musk is right at the top of this list for potentially earning 40,668 times more than his average worker.

CEOs Earn 1,000 Times More Than Workers

Elon Musk, Tesla
Elon Musk tops the IPS’ study on corporate wage inequality. | Image: REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

Sanders cited a study by The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in his “Income Inequality Tax Plan,” which listed 50 companies where CEOs earn more than 1,000 times their workers’ median salary. Tesla is in the number one spot on this list with the highest wage differential between workers and CEO.

Also on the list is McDonald’s, in 16th place, with CEO Stephen Easterbrook earning $16 million, over 2,000 times more than the average worker who earns $7,473. Skechers USA, Universal Corporation, Manpower, Mattel and Gap alongside other big brands feature on the list too.

Business Insider published  part of the list from the IPS quoting co-authors Sarah Anderson and Sam Pizzigati as saying:

“At the 50 publicly traded US corporations with the widest pay gaps in 2018, the typical employee would have to work at least 1,000 years – an entire millennium – to earn what their CEO made in just one.”

80% of S&P 500 Companies Have Massive Pay Inequality

Of the IPS top 50, the average CEO wage was $15.9 million in 2018 versus the average worker earning just $10,027.

The study also found that 88% of the workers employed by these high-earning corporations were either temporary or part-time workers and 31% worked in low-wage countries like China or Mexico.

Outside of the top 50, 80% of companies listed in the S&P 500 had a CEO earning over 100 times their average workers pay. The average CEO of an S&P 500 listed company made 287 times more  than their median employee in 2018.

Tesla’s Elon Musk Could Earn $2.2 Billion

Taking into account Elon Musk’s $2.2 billion stock option award in 2018, Tesla’s CEO-Worker Pay Ratio is the greatest with the average Tesla worker earning $56,163. In fairness, Musk will only receive this billion-dollar reward if he achieves market capitalization for Tesla of $650 billion and earns 12 of 16 performance benchmarks. And, the average Tesla worker appears to earn a significantly higher salary than the median worker on the entire list.

Musk is arguably one of the most controversial CEOs in America today facing scrutiny for his comments, behavior and Tesla’s stock performance. His ex-workers have called Tesla a “circus” and some Tesla investors have called for Musk to resign.

Sanders is, of course, in the middle of a 2020 presidential bid. Bridging pay gaps and taxing high earners are top of his priorities to bring greater equality to the U,S. He says :

“The American people are sick and tired of corporate CEOs who now make 300 times more than their average employees, while they give themselves huge bonuses and cut back on the healthcare and pension benefits of their employees.”

Sanders Wants to Recoup $150 Billion in Tax on Corporate Inequality

The Income Inequality Tax Plan would see companies that pay CEOs 50 times more than their median employees paying half a percent more corporate tax. And, even more for those with a greater pay gap between leaders and workers. Sanders’ campaign says the tax plans could raise $150 billion over the next decade – money that could be spent eliminating medical debt.

Sanders has lashed out at Amazon, Disney, General Motors and many more over their minimum wage worker compensations. But, he too was criticized for his comments about McDonald’s worker wages over the fact that 80% of their restaurants are franchises and thus much smaller. Oftentimes, they struggle too.

It’s not just coverage of Bernie Sanders’ Inequality tax that’s connecting Elon Musk and the presidential hopeful in the press recently. Interestingly, Musk appeared recently to debunk the existence of aliens, and Sanders said in August he’d tell us Area 51’s UFO secrets.