Fix the Debt: CEOs launch drive for 'grand bargain.' Is Washington listening?
The group advocates for an approach to fixing the nation's debt problems that takes no political totems as sacred, breaking with many other business coalitions in advocating both for the necessity of some form of higher taxes – not just more tax revenue through economic growth, as many conservatives desire – and reforms to treasured social programs like Medicare that many Democrats find abhorrent.
The roots of corporate involvement in America's long-term debt picture issue lie in Washington’s last financial debacle. Several executives said they felt singed by the harrowing negotiations over raising the debt ceiling in 2011 and chastened by criticism that the business community was asleep while the American economy hurtled toward disaster. They vowed to prevent the country’s financial soundness from being taken to the brink again, alluding to the sustained threat of a default during the debt-ceiling debate.
“We don’t have the right to be that reckless,” said Paul Stebbins, the executive chairman of World Fuel Services. “When you see what happened back in” August 2011, “it would be irresponsible to not be more proactive about that now. Business doesn’t get a pass – nobody gets a pass.”
“If you go back to the debt ceiling discussion, that really shocked many of us in the business community,” concurred Dave Cote, the CEO of Honeywell, a Fortune 100 global industrial conglomerate, and a former member of Mr. Obama’s debt commission, which came to be known as Simpson-Bowles.
“We just thought this was a normal political moment [Washington was] going through, we never thought you’d be this reckless or irresponsible with the country’s finances,” Mr. Cote continued. “Well, we now have a bunch of people who are trying to say ‘We are going to pay attention.’ ”