Carly Fiorina, the disgraced former CEO of computer giant Hewlett-Packard, has shot up in the Republican primary polls. Her ability to bat away Jake Tapper’s softball questions and not associate herself too closely with the rambunctious rabble-rousers that make up her competition translated to a big boost, but with that boost comes the increased scrutiny that accompanies the political spotlight. The Daily Beast has just released a troubling report which seriously calls into question her judgement and motivations as a CEO and her moral integrity as a person. It also indicates just what kind of a opportunistic and heartless patrician she really is.
Under Fiorina, Hewlett-Packard heavily lobbied the U.S. government for a tax holiday – the Homeland Investment Act of 2004. Piteous moaning about the burden of having to pay corporate taxes and how it was restricting them from creating jobs was met with open arms by the George W. Bush Administration, which bent over backwards for the oligarchs and gave them a tax break on money earned overseas. Their tax rate was dropped from 35% to 5.25%, and HP saved $4.3 billion dollars.
Fiorina then decided that her personal finances were more important than the workers of her company or even the health of the company herself, and poured four billion dollars into stock buybacks, where a company artificially inflates its own stock by putting its own money into it, funneling the profits directly to Fiorina and the shareholders- which was specifically prohibited in the tax holiday bill in the first place.
Fiorina puts herself on a pedestal as a “job creator” and a “successful” businesswoman, but neither of those “credentials” stand up to scrutiny. The jobs that were promised never came. In fact, Fiorina’s mishandling of the company triggered the layoffs of 14,500 employees and eventually the firing of Fiorina herself- except Fiorina walked away with a $21 million severance package. In total, 30,000 jobs were lost under her tenure. The “doubling” of HP’s size and most of the other statistics she throws out were, according to Politifact, was largely thanks to a controversial merger with Compaq and not organic. Moreover, the new revenue did not come with proportional increases to either profits or the number of HP jobs.
And at the end of the day, let’s face it: being successful in “business” does not exactly prepare you very well to be the leader of the free world. The decisions made in the Oval Office affect millions of people; the callousness with which Fiorina handled her company and the eagerness with which she was willing to break the rules for her own personal benefit does not bode well for our nation.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.