U.S. business leaders continue to echo the President’s call for a balanced approach to reducing our deficits and growing our economy. Following a meeting earlier this week at the White House, several chief executives from the nation's largest companies expressed support for reaching a bipartisan deal akin to the President's plan that asks the wealthy to contribute a modest amount more and preserves the investments we need to grow the economy while reducing our deficits in a balanced way.
After meeting with the President, Secretary Geithner and others in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, here is what some of those CEOs said:
Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T: “These are dramatic issues… There’s also a good indication of a willingness to address both sides of the equation, both tax reform and obviously a need to increase rates, but also a need and recognition that entitlements are going to have to be reformed as well… “I think everybody understands the importance of the situation we’re in. It needs to be dealt with… My message was this is really important. This is significant, it needs to be addressed, and that if this does get addressed tangibly, that we believe this economy is in position to takeoff, and grow significantly." [Dallas Morning News 11/28/12]
Arne Sorenson, President and CEO of Marriott: "The President and his team were resoundingly reasonable in what they had to say. They came into the meeting wanting to communicate that revenue increases are a significant part of a deal, but not the only part of a deal, and that they were also committed to an entitlement reform and spending focus… I think generally people had the view that, if it's balanced, if there are revenue increases that are part of it, that's fine, but don't only talk about revenue increases. Make sure we're talking about both." [Reuters 11/28/12]
Joe Echevarria, CEO of Deloitte LLP: [Echevarria] said the executives agreed on the need for higher tax rates for the top tier of U.S. earners. "There needs to be some revenue element to this, and [the President] started with rates. And he started with rates on what we would define (as) the upper two percent... That we have to pay our fair share. And I think everybody was in agreement with that notion… The president clearly wanted to embrace business. ... He solicited input from all of us, and he took it all with open arms.” [Reuters 11/28/12]
Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs: "Both sides need to compromise. It has to be a balanced approach. This is not a question of one side is right, one side is wrong, good versus evil…” Blankfein said he'd be open to moving the top marginal tax rate for families making above $250,000 a year: From 35% back to its Clinton-era level of 39.6%. "I think if that's what it took to make the math work, when you looked at the entitlement side and when you looked at the revenue side, I wouldn't preclude that… I think it's better to have as low a marginal rate as possible... but if we had to lift up the marginal rate, I would do that." [CNN 11/28/12]
And last week, Craig Jelinek, President and CEO of Costco Wholesale Corporation, provided the following statement after speaking to the President over the phone:
“I received a phone call on Saturday from President Obama, as part of the Administration's outreach to the business community to discuss current economic conditions and fiscal policy issues. I expressed strong support for the President's efforts to reach a compromise with Congress before the end of the year that avoids any tax increase on middle class taxpayers. Costco employs over 115,000 workers in the U.S., most of whom are middle class family wage earners. Likewise, the small businesses that make up the bulk of our business members employ thousands of working people who have borne the brunt of the recession. Now, with signs pointing to a modest economic recovery, it would be a particular burden on those working families to face higher income taxes. I encouraged the President to continue working with Congressional leadership to find a balanced solution to the deficit that will avoid middle class tax increases. It is imperativethat both sides of the ‘aisle’ compromise… to eliminate uncertainty, and allow for continued economic recovery.” [White House Retail Report 11/20/2012]
Anthony Reyes is the New Media Specialist at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.