On a broad range of topics, it's time to act
Business Roundtable today released its recommendations to boost economic growth, "It's Time to Act for America's Future." BRT President John Engler briefed reporters on the policy document (audio of opening statement), and the follow-up questions ranged far and wide on topics of the day. News coverage ...
John Engler, president of the CEO lobby Business Roundtable, on Thursday offered his group’s 2013 policy priorities, which he said could boost the economy. The roundtable will marshal its lobbying and communications resources to push its agenda, which includes a lower corporate tax rate, comprehensive immigration legislation and changes to entitlement programs, among other matters.
“If Congress and the administration embrace growth, we stand poised to not only revive the U.S. economy but to lead a global recovery,” the former Michigan governor said.
John Engler, president of the Business Roundtable and a Republican former governor of Michigan, says he thinks Congress can find a way to lower the corporate tax rate to 25 percent without sacrificing revenue.
The problem: Getting members of Congress to let go of their ‘kids.”
Every tax deduction “has got a father or a mother over there in the Congress looking after their child,” Engler said at a lunch today in Washington, where the association of chief executives of large corporations is based. “You’ve got to go round up all the kids here and see if there’s enough to pay for it.”
U.S. News and World Report, "Still Missing From Obama's Cabinet: Business Leaders"
"If we can talk to the guy who talks to the president, that's what is required," says John Engler, president of the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs. "And there's a heckuva lot of communication going on right now."
- Washington Business Journal, "Business Roundtable chief John Engler sees 'little glimmers of hope' for growth agenda"
- MNI (Deutsche Boerse), "US Bus Roundtable Chief:Expects Sequester To Take Effect Mar 1"
- Politico, "Business group likes Pritzker, Zients for cabinet posts"
- The Hill (blog), "Roundtable chief: Obama might back move to territorial taxation"
- Reuters, "Obama might back territorial tax system: business chief"
On the issue of territorial taxation, Engler was responding to question on the President's views on comprehensive tax reform, discussed when Obama spoke to BRT CEOs in December:
Reporter: Did you hear anything from the administration in your contacts with them that would give you reason … ?
Engler: I would say the president impressed people on that in December, because he reaffirmed his support for corporate tax reform, and he was acknowledging the importance of dealing with the territorial system, which I think had been a little bit of a question as to where exactly they were. There were no specifics, but a favorable impression was left by the President on the comprehensive tax reform topic.
The White House sent an e-mail to Politico Pro afteward:
The president is eager to pursue corporate tax reform that lowers the rate, broadens the base, and incentivizes investment here at home, but does not believe that a pure territorial system is the best way to achieve this goal. The President looks forward to working with the business community, Democrats and Republicans to reform our corporate tax structure in a way that best helps American businesses compete globally.
OK, that's positive. At the same time, the Reuters story notes this:
Pam Olson, assistant treasury for tax policy under Republican President George W. Bush and now chief of PricewaterhouseCooper's Washington tax practice, said Obama's plan carefully opposed a "pure" territorial tax system, but left the door open for hybrid systems that might, for instance, exempt some but not all offshore profits from U.S. taxation.
"The use of the term 'pure' I think, was a signal that they were willing to consider it," Olson said.
Engler also appeared on CNBC's Street Signs programs to discuss the economic plan.
UPDATE (10:10 a.m. Friday): Valuable update from Politico Pro:
MORNING TAX FACTS OF LIFE: NO ONE WANTS A PURE SYSTEM. And there is a lot of room in that White House statement. Morning Tax’s eyebrows are raised, as no one, not House Ways and Means Chairman David Camp or Senate Finance Ranking Member Orrin Hatch wants a purely territorial tax system. Are we seeing a change in the president’s position? Maybe. Obama railed against a territorial tax system as recently as last year, but Business Roundtable President John Engler said the president acknowledged “the importance of dealing with the territorial system” in a December meeting with the business group. Another tipster — a K Street lobbyist working on tax issues — said in meetings with Treasury folks, they see a growing support for exempting most foreign-earned income from U.S. taxes. The main difference between the Republican proposal and the administration’s position is numbers, our source said.