Posted by: Heinz Brisske

It is unusual for a bipartisan group of business leaders to publicly support both a budget solution and higher taxes. But that is exactly what happened on October 25 in New York City.

Former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, co-chairs of the national Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, cooperated with the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget to create a “Campaign to Fix the Debt.” They proposed a bipartisan budget solultion at the request of President Barack Obama.

Over 100 CEOs gathered at the New York Stock Exchange to support a comprehensive budget solution similar to that proposed by the Bowles-Simpson Commission. One of the commission members, Honeywell Chairman and CEO David Cote, stated that “The U.S. has an opportunity to not only fix our debt issue and have an economic recovery, but we can also be a model for the world and how to deal with debt. What it really comes down to is if we still have the political will to be a great country.” In stressing the imporance of developing a compreshensive solution, he went on to say that a solution will include “higher revenue, reduced entitlement spending, reduced discretionary spending, and investment in infrastructure and math and science.”

The response by Congressional leaders to this public proclamation by leaders of many of America’s largest corporations was predictable. The Senate Democratic leadership indicated that it believes part of the solution involves tax increases on individuals with higher incomes. House Republican leaders continue to oppose these tax increases.

The willingness of a bipartisan group of U.S. business leaders to place both spending and tax increases on the table is significant. The Chairperson of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Maya MacGuineas, supported this bipartisan effort by the 100+ CEOs. She stated, “The collective voice of these business leaders has helped shine a light on the fact that the debt is already affecting Americans where they work and live. We have listened to the CEO Council and heard the consequences of inaction – businesses aren’t investing in an uncertain economy and are slowing job growth to protect their employees.”