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Is the Obama Budget ‘Punishing’ the Successful?

Critics are charging that the tax hikes on the wealthy in the new White House budget unfairly attack the most worthy among us.

By Sam Pizzigati

The tax hikes on the wealthy in the new Obama budget, former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich charged last week, really boil down to nothing more than “punishing success [1].”

Among the “successful” grateful for Ehrlich’s concern: Jeffrey Mezger, the 53-year-old CEO of KB Home, the Fortune 500 homebuilding giant. Mezger, KB Home has just disclosed [2], took home $9.6 million in 2008, a year that saw company revenues drop 56 percent and shares lose 64 percent of their value.

The KB Home board of directors compensation committee, in a statement, called Mezger’s 2008 performance “outstanding” in the context of the current “business environment.”

Mezger took the KB Home CEO reins in 2006 after an accounting scandal did in his predecessor, Bruce Karatz. The year before, the “successful” Karatz pocketed [3] $155.9 million.

Sam Pizzigati edits Too Much [4], the online weekly on excess and inequality.