CEOS urge leg­is­la­tors not to put off tough is­sues un­til elec­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - Business - BY TIM DE­VANEY

One day af­ter a face-to-face meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Obama, a group of some of the na­tion’s most pow­er­ful busi­ness lead­ers chal­lenged Washington law­mak­ers not to wait un­til af­ter the fall elec­tion to take ac­tion on im­mi­gra­tion, tax re­form and the gov­ern­ment’s fis­cal woes.

“[Amer­ica’s eco­nomic com­peti­tors] are not wait­ing un­til af­ter the Novem­ber elec­tions be­fore mak­ing mean­ing­ful pol­icy changes and we shouldn’t ei­ther,” said W. James Mcner­ney Jr., Boe­ing CEO.

The Busi­ness Round­table, an as­so­ci­a­tion of CEOS from some of the na­tion’s big­gest com­pa­nies, called for the White House and Congress to bal­ance the fed­eral bud­get within five years.

“Our mes­sage to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment on fis­cal pol­icy is sim­ple and straight­for­ward: Get your house in or­der and get started on that task now,” said Robert A. Mcdon­ald, Proc­ter & Gam­ble CEO.

The plan, “Tak­ing Ac­tion for Amer­ica,” also calls for lower cor­po­rate taxes.

“It’s no se­cret that Amer­ica has one of the least com­pet­i­tive cor­po­rate tax sys­tems in the world. We think we can get to a 25 per­cent tax rate . . . and do it in a fis­cally re­spon­si­ble way,” said Mr. Mcdon­ald, chair­man of the tax and fis­cal pol­icy com­mit­tee at the Busi­ness Round­table.

The ex­ec­u­tives also called for stream­lin­ing the fed­eral reg­u­la­tory process.

“We are not op­posed to reg­u­la­tion,” said An­drew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chem­i­cal. “We are for (smart) reg­u­la­tion.”

“Done wrong, they im­pose mas­sive costs on U.S. busi­nesses,” he added. “They be­come a drag on the econ­omy. That is some­thing none of us can af­ford.”

The busi­ness lead­ers also want to see im­mi­gra­tion re­form on the front burner in Washington.

“We be­lieve im­mi­gra­tion re­form needs to hap­pen in Amer­ica. We do think it’s pos­i­tive for eco­nomic growth. We cer­tainly think it’s pos­i­tive for an in­no­va­tion agenda. We just need to get it done,” said John En­gler, the group’s pres­i­dent and a for­mer Re­pub­li­can gov­er­nor of Michi­gan.

Mr. Mcner­ney, chair­man of the Busi­ness Round­table, was crit­i­cal of how the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Na­tional La­bor Re­la­tions Board chal­lenged his com­pany, Boe­ing, in a la­bor dis­pute last year.

The NLRB dropped its com­plaint against Boe­ing in De­cem­ber af­ter the aero­space gi­ant made con­ces­sions to its unions in Washington up­set by the com­pany’s decision to open a new plant in South Carolina, a right-towork state.

“We shouldn’t have had to go through it,” Mr. Mcner­ney said at a Busi­ness Round­table event on Wed­nes­day.

Mr. Mcner­ney said the NLRB’S ac­tion against Boe­ing was an ex­am­ple of reg­u­la­tion that was “po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.”

“We’re hop­ing to get things to a more con­struc­tive state,” he said.

Mr. Obama, who met with the group on Tues­day for a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion at the New­seum, told the ex­ec­u­tives that his fo­cus is on jobs.

“If you’re a CEO that’s will­ing to bring jobs back to Amer­ica, we want to do ev­ery­thing we can to help you suc­ceed,” he said.

Dow Nas­daq S&P 500 Rus­sell 2000 12,837.33 2,935.69 1,352.63

795.95

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

W. Jamesm­c­n­er­ney, Jr., CEO of Boe­ing, said that Amer­ica’s com­peti­tors aren’t wait­ing un­til af­ter the Novem­ber elec­tions “and we shouldn’t ei­ther.”

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