By Peter Schroeder - 12/08/10 02:33 PM EST
The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, also called for comprehensive tax reform, including a lower corporate tax rate, entitlement spending and Social Security reform, more trade agreements, education incentives and expanded domestic energy production, as part of its new "Roadmap for Growth," which the group billed as "a holistic plan to return American to long-term economic growth."
The roundtable and the administration have squared off recently in several prominent battles, including during the debate on comprehensive financial reform. The roundtable, alongside the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, filed a lawsuit in September against the Securities and Exchange Commission challenging new rules designed to empower shareholders in corporate board elections.
However, the administration is reportedly looking to repair relations with business going forward. For example, Roger Altman, a former deputy Treasury secretary and founder of investment bank Evercore Partners Inc., is thought to be a leading candidate to replace the outgoing Lawrence Summers as director of the National Economic Council.
The CEOs similarly sought a reserved tone advocating productive discussions with policymakers.
"We're in a moment where we want to work with the president and Congress," said Ivan G. Seidenberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications and of the Roundtable. "This is a positive event here."
"We must foster the ability of American business to drive innovation and prosperity," said Andrew N. Liveris, chairman and CEO of The Dow Chemical Co. "America's dynamic business sector has the knowledge, experience and grit to drive unprecedented economic growth and job creation, but we need support from policymakers in Washington."
A key aspect of the CEOs' plan called for a light touch from regulators, as they warned that "inflexible and cumbersome regulations" are threatening the profitability of companies in the financial services, environmental and healthcare sectors.
For example, the Roundtable set its sights on new regulations on derivatives that were passed as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. Those provisions, including the imposition of a 3 percent margin on OTC derivatives, "place an extraordinary burden on end-users in every sector of the economy."
Now that implementation of these substantial laws are underway, government officials should take a moment to rethink some approaches.
"Let's stop, take a timeout and try to fix those things that we already know won't work the way they were intended to," said Seidenberg. "Let's call it a retool, a restart or some modification that will be required."
On whether the president will be receptive to changes to his key legislative achievements, the CEOs were optimistic, pointing to the President's recent flexibility on the tax deal.
"The president has shown a willingness to learn," Seidenberg said.