AT&T CEO: Failure to pass tax reform would be 'bad indictment' for GOP

AT&T CEO: Failure to pass tax reform would be 'bad indictment' for GOP
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AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said Wednesday it would be a "bad indictment" of Republicans' effectiveness if they can’t enact tax reform while controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House 

“I absolutely believe, and I think you’re beginning to understand, that the people in the Senate and Congress believe that if they don’t get tax reform done, it may be political survival for them,” Stephenson said at an event hosted by the Business Roundtable.

Stephenson added that “if you’re a Republican, you better have it done before the primary season begins.”

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Stephenson was one of several business leaders who pressed for tax reform at the event Wednesday. Several of the CEOs said that taxes should be a bipartisan issue and that both sides of the aisle see a need to overhaul the code.

The CEOs argued that a corporate tax rate that’s more in line with the rates in other countries would allow them to invest more in the United States and create jobs.

“We see this as a big enabler,” said Boeing President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg. “It will unleash capital investment, it will unleash our ability to grow jobs.”

Lockheed Martin President and CEO Marillyn Hewson said that “corporate tax reform is a national security issue as well,” since her company and others are investing in capabilities to ensure that the U.S. has an edge over its adversaries.

Business Roundtable is one of many business groups that are ramping up their tax reform advocacy efforts as lawmakers and the White House are poised to release more details about their efforts.

Administration officials and congressional GOP leaders are planning to come out with a tax framework next week. Additionally, the Senate Budget Committee moved the ball forward on taxes Tuesday when committee members announced an agreement on a budget resolution that would call for tax cuts over a 10-year period.

Mark Weinberger, CEO of Ernst and Young, said that the 35 percent corporate rate has to be lowered to the “low 20s at worst.” He also said that tax reform should be “fiscally responsible,” though it didn’t necessarily need to be revenue neutral.

UPS CEO David Abney said that businesses should be united on taxes and not “eat ourselves.”

“The way that tax reform actually shakes out, not everyone is going to like all the individual terms,” Abney said, while arguing that the status quo would be the worst alternative.