Published: October 24, 2012
CNBC this morning conducted an informative interview with GE's CEO Jeff Immelt on the economy, the fiscal cliff and resolving America's inexorably expanding debt.
Immelt was joined on Squawk Box by Warren Buffett of Berkshire-Hathaway.
Immelt on long-term debt reduction: "I think everybody believes that we're going to be plus or minus 10 percent of Simpson/Bowles. LLet's get it done. People say business leaders should be more vocal. Look, we're vocal. You know, this is a complete distraction at a time -- and an important distraction -- at a time when the country doesn't need it. So I just think, you know, everybody is planning. every business is planning for something that's plus or minus 10 percent of Simpson/Bowles.
More on America's debt: "You want a plan. You want to know what it is. It's just the stakes are so gosh darn high for the country and all of us. I don't get why we can't do something this important. You know? In other words, I understand there's two opinions on everything, I understand there's Republicans and Democrats. I just think, you know, what I say inside GE is nervous laughter is a bad strategy."
On corporate tax reform and GE's tax rate after a Simpson-Bowles like agreement: "My hunch, Andrew, is that the tax rate goes up, probably. I think we're kind of ready for that. But, you know, the notion that you can have a territorial system and have flexibility around cash, I think that's a positive that supersedes everything else. I think that's, you know, and again, we're not asking for -- we're asking for the same system that every one of our global competitors has. Every one of our global competitors lives in a territorial system. All we're asking is for a chance to compete on a level playing field against those guys. What I always say, Andrew, is look, like us or hate us, we're the last American company standing in all the industries we're in. We compete against global guys in everything we do. Just give us the same system they've got. And I don't think that's too much to ask for."
Odds of the fiscal cliff? "I think companies have to be prepared it might happen. But let's be clear, it shouldn't. It shouldn't. Let's be really clear. If it does happen, that's a failure of governance, and that's something we shouldn't expect. Yeah. And shame on them if it does happen."