Sarah Anderson, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, and Stephen Moore, a member of the "Wall Street Journal" editorial board, squared off on "Morning Call" and found little common ground.
Anderson says "there is a role for government", calling the potential passage of the Shareholder Vote on Executive Compensation Act, a "first step." Anderson also cited "Huge loopholes" in the tax code that "companies are taking advantage of," including the deductibility of salaries. Anderson advocates limiting deductibility, which might discourage corporate largesse.
"I don't think Congress should be intervening," counters Moore, saying the matter should be left to shareholders. Moore rejected any notion of extra taxes on CEO pay as "punitive."
CEO pay reflects market forces, says Moore -- echoing a popular school of thought -- and there is "a high premium on talent" in the global economy.
He also likened CEO pay to that of star athletes, saying there's been no government efforts to regullate that.
The level of CEO is often linked to the performance of a company's stock. Studies have come to opposite conclusionsas to whether highl paid executives perform better than others, lifting company fortunes and stock prices.
Down in Fort Worth, Texas, there's nothing theoretical about pay and performance at AMR, the parent company of American Airlines. Union members have been staging protests over an estimated $200 million in stock bonus pay, which is expected to be doled out to nine senior managers later today.