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CEOs on the economy, taxation, energy and consumers

Mar 14, 2012
Carter Wood

Fortune Magazine has published a column by Alexander "Sandy" Cutler, Chairman and CEO of Eaton Corp., detailing his views on what it will take to restore U.S. competitiveness. Many CEOs have been speaking out on the issues, including taxation, education and infrastructure.

From "Fixing America: A CEO's master plan":

FORTUNE -- Our nation is facing a crisis, a crisis of leadership. Decisions today are being based, sadly, on political dogma. The guiding principles that made our country great -- creating jobs, fostering innovation, and providing more economic opportunity -- have been overtaken by mindless policy debates while our national debt escalates and our competitiveness is weakened. Here are some ideas that together will help right the ship by reducing uncertainty, accelerating investment, and creating jobs.

First, we need to reduce the destructive uncertainty surrounding corporate tax reform. The Obama administration's recent proposal to lower the maximum rate companies pay from 35% to 28% (and 25% for manufacturers) is a good start but doesn't go far enough. The maximum corporate domestic rate should be lowered to 25% for all companies (in line with the average rate in the OECD nations).

Next, we need to tackle the issue of overseas profits. American corporations today sit on billions that they don't want to bring home because they will be double-taxed -- once by the country where the profits are earned and once by the U.S. after they are repatriated and foreign tax credits are applied.

The United States should therefore turn to a territorial system, Cutler argues, recommending the British system as a model. He also calls for restoring the strength of America's two-year community colleges and their ability to provide vocational training and a robust program of infrastructure investment.

Energy development is another area that CEOs have been discussing in recent intereviews. Speaking to Fortune's Geoff Colvin on the U.S. chemical industry, Dow Chemical's CEO, Andrew Liveris -- also a Business Roundtable vice chairman -- remarks on shale natural gas, a basic feedstuff for chemical production:

It's a game changer, not just for companies like mine but for the U.S. There's enough shale gas being discovered, and enough information on that shale gas is being gathered -- depletion ratios, contamination issues, etc. -- to put in place a pragmatic policy that could reverse our being an energy importer to our being a net energy exporter.

Other recent interviews of note:

Finally, GM's CEO, Dan Akerson, joined the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on March 7, covering his company's record profits, auto industry, the U.S. economy and sustainability in an interview with Climate One's Greg Dalton. An audio podcast of the hourlong discussion is available here.


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