Companies yearn for US debt-reduction plan, says Business Roundtable leader

With no plan to get US debt under control, Congress and President Obama are lagging in the business community's view, says Business Roundtable President John Engler. 

Michael Bonfigli /The Christian Science Monitor
Business Roundtable President John Engler at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, D.C., for a Monitor breakfast with reporters on March 22.

Business leader John Engler is president of the Business Roundtable, a group of chief executive officers whose firms employ 14 million workers and have $6 trillion in annual revenues. Mr. Engler previously served as Michigan's governor. He was the speaker at the March 22 Monitor breakfast in Washington.

The US as a business competitor:

"The country has tremendous strengths. We are underperforming, and we need to step up the game.... We can't have a world in which 8 percent unemployment becomes the new normal, where trillion-dollar deficits become the accepted thing."

Dealing with the nation's debt problem:

"A framework that truly begins to get our fiscal house in order is probably going to have support overwhelmingly from the business community.... What we don't have is a plan to get behind."

The business community's view of President Obama:

"[Mitt] Romney's fundraising would indicate there is a strong degree of support from a lot of the business community.... The president is not as strong as he was four years ago.... He had a lot of support four years ago."

Whether business-supported 'super political-action committees' have leveled the playing field with Democratic groups:

"Business generally ... they've absolutely been outmaneuvered and outhustled and outspent by the coalition of labor and environmental groups ... and the trial lawyers.... Their expenditures dwarf what business does.... George Soros trumps the whole collection of people on the right."

The Business Roundtable's push for eliminating tax loopholes and cutting the corporate rate in return:

"It would be a much broader, flatter tax.... There is a willingness to be very creative and to be very courageous on this. But the key is that the rate has to go low enough to justify it."

Why push corporate tax reform now since action is unlikely until after the election:

"We are getting beat on all over the world. We need to keep the profile of the issue up so that it is understood."

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