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Dennis Kucinich on Corporations

Democratic Representative (OH-10)


Break up monopolies in agriculture, in utilities, in oil

Commerce must be guided by moral principles. This is something that I understand from my own spiritual training. Workers rights are human rights, and there is a moral arc that we have to follow in all of our commerce. It’s time for a president who understood the concerns of workers, who stood for workers.

We need a president with the capacity to challenge corporate America to be responsible in its commercial policies. We need to break up the monopolies in agriculture, in utilities, in oil and in all the areas of the economy where restraint of trade is causing Americans to pay higher prices and get inferior products.

It is time for us to stand with the farmers of America who can’t get the price of their product, don’t have parity, can’t get their product to market, stand with the farmers of America by breaking up those agricultural monopolies; have safety testing, have laws in regards to that. We need to see an economy which is guided by democratic principles.

Source: Take Back America 2007 Conference Jun 20, 2007

Democracy fails without corporate regulation

The problems that exist on Wall Street today go to the center of a debate in this country about wealth and democracy. We cannot keep our democracy if those who are in charge of handling the engines of our economy are not honest with their shareholders. That’s why there is a role for government regulation here. That role for government is breaking up the monopolies, insisting on public disclosure, insisting on public audits, insisting on restitution whenever someone has been cheated.
Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

Iraq: no more Halliburton sweetheart deals

Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003

Cleveland’s bankruptcy was hard decision but right decision

Q: The one time you had executive responsibility, as mayor of Cleveland, the city went bankrupt. Some will say that you’ll do for America what you did for Cleveland.

KUCINICH: In Cleveland, that default ends up being a badge of honor for me, because I stood up for the people of Cleveland against a takeover of our municipal electric system by a utility monopoly. Now imagine a president who’s willing to stand up to the Enrons of America. Imagine a president who’s willing to stand up to the monopolies in energy and in health care and in transportation and communication. Imagine a president who comes from the cities and will fight for working men and women and will fight for the poor. I have every expectation that I’ll be the next president of the United States because when the test came, I put my career on the line to save a municipal electric system for the people of Cleveland. And today people of Cleveland know that I did the right thing. And soon America will know that as well.

Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Enron: Dems should become party of re-regulation

This predatory [deregulated electricity] system must be set aside. The only way to ensure that Enron does not happen again is for government at all levels to reclaim the role as regulator in the public interest, to restructure electric rates to protect residents and small businesses, to enact windfall profit taxes, and to finance the construction of municipal power systems. The Democratic Party must become the party of re-regulation, of public control, of public accountability, of public power.
Source: Speech to DNC, in Prayer for America, p. 26-27 May 25, 2002

Need separation of corporation and state

We need a new relationship between the Democratic Party and corporate America--call it arms-length--so that our party is capable of independently affirming the public interest. We need a new relationship between corporations and our society. Just as our founders understood the need for separation of church and state, we need to institutionalize the separation of corporations and the state. This begins with government taking the responsibility to establish the conditions under which corporations may do business in the US, including the establishment of a federal corporate charter which describes corporate rights and responsibilities.

Corporations should pay a fair share of taxes. If corporations shift profits offshore to avoid paying taxes, they should not be permitted to operate in the US. The decrease in corporate tax responsibility is an indication of the rise of corporate power.

Source: Speech to DNC, in Prayer for America, p. 31 May 25, 2002

Rescued Cleveland Electric from profitable utility

Consumers have a stake in the fight against utility monopolies. We rescued a municipal electric system from the clutches of one of America’s most profitable privately-owned utilities. We revived the prosecution of a $325 million antitrust damage suit against the same utility, for unfair and anti-competitive practices, which have been confirmed in findings by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. We are continuing to maintain municipal utilities because we believe that public service facilities must belong to the public. They are not to be considered private loot. They are public rights. Our defense of our municipal electric utility assures Cleveland consumers of the advantages of continued competition and provides them with an alternative for lower electric rates.
Source: Speech to National Press Club, in Prayer for America, p. 6 Jan 1, 1977

Voted YES on letting shareholders vote on executive compensation.

Congressional Summary:

Corporate and Financial Institution Compensation Fairness Act: Amends the Securities Exchange Act to require that any proxy for an annual shareholders meeting provide for a separate shareholder vote to approve executive compensation for named executive officers. The shareholder vote shall not be:

  1. binding on the corporation
  2. construed as overruling a board decision, or as creating or implying any additional fiduciary duty by the board; or
  3. construed as restricting or limiting shareholder ability to place executive compensation proposals within proxy materials.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. BARNEY FRANK (D, MA-4): The amount of wages is irrelevant to the SEC. What this bill explicitly aims at is the practice whereby people are given bonuses that pay off if the gamble pays off, but don't lose you anything if it doesn't. That is, there is a wide consensus that this incentivizes excessive risk.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. SPENCER BACHUS (R, AL-6): True, the first 6 pages of the bill give the owners, the shareholders, a non-binding vote on the pay of top executives. But then come the next 8 pages, the switch, which gives the regulators the power to decide appropriate compensation for not only just top executives but for all employees of all financial institutions above $1 billion in assets and all without regard for the shareholders' prior approval. So under the guise of empowering shareholders, it is, in fact, the government that is empowered. And, finally, on page 15, the bill designates those same government entities which regulated AIG, Countrywide, and collectively failed to prevent the worst financial calamity since the Great Depression. This bill continues the Democrat majority's tendency to go to the default solution for every problem: create a government bureaucracy to make decisions better left to private citizens and private corporations.

Reference: Say-On-Pay Bill; Bill H.R.3269 ; vote number 2009-H686 on Jul 31, 2009

Voted NO on more funding for nanotechnology R&D and commercialization.

Congressional Summary:Extends funding for research and development topics, nanotechnology, project commercialization, prioritization of applications, and federal administration and oversight.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. NYDIA VELÁZQUEZ (D, NY-12): We need jobs that cannot be shipped overseas and will not evaporate in the next cycle of boom and bust. But those jobs aren't going to appear out of thin air. They need to be created. By expanding existing industries and unlocking new ones, H.R. 2965 will generate the jobs we need. Job creation is the primary goal of R&D. But in order to generate new positions, we have to first develop new industries. Commercialization is critical to that process.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. ED MARKEY (D, MA-7): I must oppose this bill because I have serious concerns about allowing SBIR awards to go to an unlimited number of businesses owned or controlled by venture capital (VC) firms. The SBIR program, responsible for over 60,000 patents, has always focused on innovation from truly small businesses for whom commercial capital market funding is typically not an option. However, with the change made in this bill, the SBIR program would be wide open to applicants that already are well-capitalized due to VC participation, crowding out the small businesses that have been the focus of the highly successful SBIR program.

While I support VC participation in the SBIR program, enabling an unlimited amount of large VC majority-owned firms to qualify for SBIR funding calls into question whether this program, intended for genuinely small businesses, is, in fact, still focused on these firms.

We should do everything in our power to strengthen small businesses that generate 70% of new jobs in our country. H.R 2965 does not do enough to ensure that small businesses are the focus of the SBIR program, and therefore I cannot support the bill.

Reference: Enhancing Small Business Research and Innovation Act; Bill S.1233&H.R.2965 ; vote number 2009-H486 on Jul 8, 2009

Voted YES on allowing stockholder voting on executive compensation.

To amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to provide shareholders with an advisory vote on executive compensation [and as part of that process, fully disclosing executive compensation].

Proponents support voting YES because:

We should not deprive the public, the stockholders, from being able to do anything meaningful once they find out about scandalous levels of executive compensation or board compensation. Everyone talks about the corporate board as the remedy. But the board is often a part of the problem, being paid huge amounts of money for showing up once or twice a year at meetings.

Give the stockholders a meaningful remedy. Once you get the mandatory disclosure put in place by previous legislation, we are saying the stockholders should be allowed to have a referendum on that and not have a runaround by the board.

Opponents support voting NO because:

This vote is based on mischaracterization--it is an unnecessary amendment. The opportunity for these kinds of votes already exists within the structure of corporate governance right now. A good company from Georgia, AFLAC, went ahead and already has these nonbinding shareholder votes. But there is a difference between having individuals in the private sector, shareholders and individuals outside of the mandating of government to have it occur and have government come in with its heavy hand and say, this is exactly what you need to do because we know best. Our constituents know better how to act and how to relate to corporations than Washington.

Reference: Shareholder Vote on Executive Compensation Act; Bill H R 1257 ; vote number 2007-244 on Apr 20, 2007

Voted NO on replacing illegal export tax breaks with $140B in new breaks.

Vote to pass a bill that would repeal an export tax break for U.S. manufacturers ruled an illegal trade subsidy by the World Trade Organization, while providing for about $140 billion in new corporate tax cuts. Revenue raising offsets would decrease the cost of the bill to $34.4 billion over 11 years. It would consist of a buyout for tobacco farmers that could not go over $9.6 billion. It also would allow the IRS to hire private collection agencies to get back money from taxpayers, and require individuals who claim a tax deduction for a charitable donation of a vehicle to obtain an independent appraisal of the car.
Reference: American Jobs Creation Act; Bill HR 4520 ; vote number 2004-259 on Jun 17, 2004

Voted NO on Bankruptcy Overhaul requiring partial debt repayment.

Vote to pass a bill that would make it easier for courts to change debtors from Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which allows most debts to be dismissed, to Chapter 13, which requires a repayment plan.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Gekas, R-PA; Bill HR 333 ; vote number 2001-25 on Mar 1, 2001

Require Code of Conduct for US corporations abroad.

Kucinich co-sponsored requiring Code of Conduct for US corporations abroad

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Requires any national of the United States that employs more than 20 persons in a foreign country, either directly or through subsidiaries or licensees, to take the necessary steps to implement a Corporate Code of Conduct with respect to the employment of those persons.

EXCERPTS OF CONGRESSIONAL FINDINGS:

    The Congress finds the following:
  1. On 1/31/1999, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan challenged world business leaders to 'embrace and enact' the Global Compact, an agreement that asks corporations to protect human rights, labor rights, and the environment.
  2. In a recent poll, 88% of the respondents agreed that 'American companies that operate in other countries should be expected to abide by US environmental standards.'.
  3. The European Parliament has passed a European Code of Conduct calling for European businesses to abide by European Union laws in operations outside of Europe.
  4. The protests in 2000 against the WTO in Seattle, and the World Bank and IMF in Washington, D.C., demonstrate a growing constituency against the unregulated expansion of globalization.
  5. Unfortunately, too many US businesses with operations abroad are notorious for their blatant disregard for the well being of the citizens of their host nations who are employees of the businesses.
    CORPORATE CODE OF CONDUCT
  1. Provide a safe and healthy workplace.
  2. Ensure fair employment, including the prohibition of the use of child and forced labor, the prohibition of discrimination, the right to bargain collectively, and the payment of a living wage to all workers.
  3. Prohibit mandatory overtime work by employees under the age of 18.
  4. Prohibit the practice of pregnancy testing of employees.
  5. Comply with minimum international human rights standards.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to House Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade; never came to a vote.

Source: Corporate Code of Conduct Act (H.R.2782) 01-HR2782 on Aug 2, 2001

Rated 15% by the US COC, indicating an anti-business voting record.

Kucinich scores 15% by US Chamber of Commerce on business policy

Whether you own a business, represent one, lead a corporate office, or manage an association, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of AmericaSM provides you with a voice of experience and influence in Washington, D.C., and around the globe.

Our members include businesses of all sizes and sectors—from large Fortune 500 companies to home-based, one-person operations. In fact, 96% of our membership encompasses businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

Mission Statement:

"To advance human progress through an economic, political and social system based on individual freedom, incentive, initiative, opportunity, and responsibility."
The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: COC website 03n-COC on Dec 31, 2003

Other candidates on Corporations: Dennis Kucinich on other issues:
Nominees:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010