More than 150 chief executive officers, including JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS:US)’s Lloyd Blankfein, called on President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner to compromise on a budget deal that would include new tax revenue and spending cuts.
Without a “principled compromise” soon, the chief executives warned in a letter today, the U.S. will suffer “long-lasting, if not permanent” economic damage.
While Boehner, an Ohio Republican, and Obama are continuing their private talks on a tax-and-spending deal, each side is insisting publicly that the other must give in first.
Obama is pressing for the expiration of tax breaks for top earners, while Boehner said today on the House floor that he expects the president to propose spending cuts as part of a deficit-reduction package. If the White House and Congress don’t reach agreement, more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts will start taking effect in January.
“Delaying this doesn’t do any good to anybody,” Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric Co. (GE:US), told reporters today during a conference call. “We’ve been dealing with this amount of uncertainty for not just since the election but for almost two years now.”
The CEOs are members of the Business Roundtable, a Washington-based association. The group plans to buy newspaper advertising and visit lawmakers and White House staff to discuss the short-term and long-term issues tied to the nation’s debt and deficit, Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical Co. (DOW:US), told reporters.
“Compromise will require Congress to agree on more revenue -- whether by increasing rates, eliminating deductions or some combination thereof -- and the administration to agree to larger, meaningful structural and benefit entitlement reforms and spending reductions that are a fiscally responsible multiple of increased revenues,” said the CEOs’ letter.
Other CEOs signing the letter include James McNerney of Boeing Co. (BA:US), David Cote of Honeywell International Inc., Kenneth Chenault of American Express Co. (AXP:US), Laurence Fink of BlackRock Inc. and Doug Oberhelman of Caterpillar Inc. (CAT:US) The executives also sent the letter to the Senate majority and minority leaders as well as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.
By initiating tax and entitlement overhauls “simultaneously,” Congress and the White House can rebuild the confidence needed “for business to invest in new factories, equipment and employees,” the executives wrote.
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