Business Roundtable Meets with Obama, Congress the Problem

Business Roundtable Meets with Obama, Congress the Problem


“I make no apologies for being chauvinistic when it comes to wanting to have the best airports, the best roads, the fastest broadband lines, the best wireless connections here in the United States of America. And now is the time for us to do it,” said President Obama Tuesday night.

His audience? 100 members of the Business Roundtable  (BRT), an association comprised of top executives from some of the largest corporations in the country. They gathered in Washington, DC to discuss a report it released today called “Taking Action for America: A CEO Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth.” The plan lays out a broad plan that includes streamlining regulation, tax and immigration reform, and improving education.

It had been two years since the President last met with the group, and he highlighted many of the gains the economy has made in that time, including the addition of more than 3.7 million new jobs in the private sector and the resurgence of the American auto industry.

While the president’s message of progress was received well, BRT feels the country is still a long way off from stability and prosperity– and they point to Congressional gridlock as the main culprit standing in the way of success.

“America’s CEOs believe deeply in the fundamental strength, resilience and potential of American business,” said the group’s chairman, W. James McNerney, Jr., of the Boeing Company. “However, we can not be successful if business and government remain divided and Washington itself remains divided.”

The group is seeking a corporate income tax rate decrease from 35% to 25% and moving to a tax system in which overseas earnings will not be taxed at all. The Obama administration is currently proposing a 28% tax rate for corporations in addition to cutting tax breaks; and the President is well aware of the challenges he and the BRT face with regards to progressing on the issue of taxes.

“Anybody who has been involved in tax discussions in any legislature, but especially Congress, knows that it’s like pulling teeth.  But it is the right thing to do for us to become more competitive,” the President said.

“If Washington and business can once again find the ability to get aligned on fundamental priorities, American business will once again unleash America’s economic potential,” McNerney said.

Business and government are at a cross roads. While Black unemployment did drop from 15.7 to 12.7 percent in January, and Hispanic unemployment took a 0.5 percent dip to 10.5 percent (the lowest since January of 2009) minority stats are appalling compared to white counterparts, whose unemployment is 7.4 percent and falling.

Hopefully, the administration will find a way to work with contentious Congress members in order to build upon Tuesday’s meeting and the promise of economic repair.

For more on the BRT’s “Taking Action for America” plan, click here.