In an election year in which voters are concerned with the record high unemployment numbers and the lack of a robust economic recovery, candidates around the country are using all they can to taint their opposing candidates’ economic records.

In California’s heated Senate race, both incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer (D) and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina have used Executive Excess reports to attack one another. The Institute for Policy Studies has published these annual reports on CEO pay for 17 years.

Friends of Barbara Boxer has cited our Executive Excess 2003 report in the attack ad below:

As the advertisement points out, we found that Fiorina laid off 25,700 workers in 2001, and then saw her pay jump 231 percent, from $1.2 million in 2001 to $4.1 million in 2002. Whereas previous HP heads had strived to avoid layoffs, IPS pay analyst Sarah Anderson described Fiorina as “like the Annie Oakley of the corporate world, coming in with her guns blazing.” Whether the layoffs directly led to her salary jump is unclear. However, it is obvious that Fiorina was a CEO that has put her own interests before her employees’ wellbeing, whether she would continue that management style if she becomes an U.S. Senator is something that no one can say for sure.

Fiorina, on the other hand, has cited our 2010 Executive Excess Report, CEOs and the Great Recession, on her website. She makes the claim that Senator Boxer has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Bank of America, Verizon, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Boeing and Microsoft—companies that have outsourced jobs and laid off workers since the beginning of our current economic recession.

Assuming that the website has correctly cited The Center for Responsive Politics, it is true that these companies that are funding Boxer’s campaign are among the top 50 “layoff leaders” in this recession. From this, you could argue that Boxer supports and is being supported by corporations that have laid off workers and have shipped workers overseas.

But unlike Fiorina during her axe-wielding days at HP, Boxer wasn’t the one directly responsible for mass layoffs. Moreover, if you look at Boxer’s legislative record, the claim that she doesn’t support “Made in America” jobs creation is dubious. For one thing, she did support the $787 billion Recovery Act that has significantly helped lower the unemployment rate in the United States. So is Senator Boxer really a candidate that doesn’t believe in domestic job creation? It is hard to say…what do you think?

One thing we do know for sure is this: Job creation and reining in corporate executive excess are two very important issues that voters care about, which is evident from the heavy circulation and citation of our Executive Excess reports in one of the most heated electoral battles during the 2010 midterms. We are glad that both senatorial candidates are concerned with these issues. We just hope that whoever wins the election will take a look at our legislative score card at the end of our 2010 report (it starts on page 13) and actually start championing some of the legislative proposals that would rein in executive corporate excess.

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