Published: February 14, 2012
Business Roundtable President John Engler appeared on Detroit's WJR radio this morning, talking tax competitiveness, the auto industry, politics and other issues with morning drive-time host, Paul W. Smith.
The impetus for the appearance Engler's reaction to the Clint Eastwood ad for Chrysler that ran during the Super Bowl. The following Sunday, BRT's president had an op-ed in The Detroit Free Press commenting on the unnecessary partisan reaction to the spot, "U.S. competitors take no half-time break."
[The ad] affirmed America’s ability to overcome, in Eastwood’s terms, division, discord and blame. The ad made most Americans feel proud and yearn for better days ahead.
As president of Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S.-based corporations, I was glad to see Chrysler and Eastwood reinforcing America’s resilience. As former governor of Michigan, I welcomed the plug for Detroit, which has indeed seen tough economic times. You bet, “Motor City is fighting again.” The Super Bowl setting also reminded us that teamwork is vital, and, like the New York Giants, we can rally.
With WJR's Smith, the interview delved deeper into U.S. competitiveness and the lack of pro-competitive policies like modernizing U.S. corporate taxation. The United States could wind up being the most expensive country in which to do business, Smith observed. Engler's response:
You don’t have to look very far out the golden Tower of the Fisher Building south to Canada and see where they’re got a 15 percent corporate tax rate, they’ve got a permanent R&D credit, they’ve been able to fix their immigration problem.
Prime Minister Harper is making that country quite competitive, and others around the world are doing likewise. We just have to understand that it’s our ability to compete.
And that was the reason I wrote the op-ed....
It’s been a wrenching adjustment, a lot of jobs loss, impacting everything from not just the auto companies but dealers, and suppliers, but that newly re-energized automotive business -- whether it’s Ford that did that without any government assistance, or GM and Chrysler, where they had some help -- is competing today and the quality of the products -- (they) are globally competitive products.
Japan will soon drop its corporate tax rate, leaving the United States with the highest rate among developed economies, Smith commented, to which Engler responded: "That's the No. ranking we don't want to have. We want to be No. 1 like the Red Wings, win every game at home, and we’re not doing that."
In his budget remarks in Northern Virginia today President called for "immediate action" to lower corporate tax rates, but unfortunately, the rest of the budget includes a rehash of failed proposals to raise taxes on U.S. companies with worldwide operations. As BRT's statement headlined it, "President’s Budget Calls for Tax Reform but Fails to Achieve Goal."
News/Talk 760 WJR is a powerhouse station, and the hosts often post podcasts of their interviews. Paul W. Smith's interview with Engler is available here for streaming or download.