Seize the opportunity on tax reform


Joshua Bolten - Tribune News Service



As momentum for tax reform builds, America’s business leaders believe the country stands to benefit from this once-in-a-generation opportunity to revitalize U.S. global competitiveness, drive job creation and expand economic growth.

This point was made emphatically clear through a new Business Roundtable survey that finds that a significant majority of its CEO members believe tax reform is the single most effective action Congress can take to accelerate economic growth over the next year.

Business Roundtable CEOs lead America’s most successful companies, employing nearly 15 million people and producing $6 trillion in annual revenues. The organization’s steadfast support for tax reform comes not so much from a belief that reform will help any individual company’s bottom line. It’s more about creating opportunity and freeing up capital so companies can make the investments that produce jobs and economic growth.

What do America’s leading employers think successful tax reform will mean?

—More jobs: Seventy-six percent of the CEOs say they would increase hiring at their company if the U.S. tax system is reformed.

—Greater investment: Eighty-two percent said they would increase capital spending, making investments that lead to even more hiring and broader economic growth.

—A growing economy: Seventy-one percent of the CEOs responding to the survey said that corporate tax reform is the most effective way to accelerate economic growth over the next year.

But another, just as important question must be asked in the tax reform debate: What are the consequences of an extended delay for individual companies?

—Lagging investment: Fifty-seven percent of the CEOs said delaying tax reform means their company will delay capital spending, the investment that drives jobs and growth.

—Slower hiring: Fifty-six percent said their company will delay hiring.

As for the overall economy, 90 percent of the 123 CEOs who responded to the survey say an extended delay of tax reform will lead to lower rates of hiring, growth, and investment, hitting companies and workers alike.

All of these responses underscore the importance of capitalizing on the unique opportunity we have as a country to take advantage of the favorable environment for reform.

Congress has been working diligently on reform for several years, and President Donald Trump has made tax reform a top legislative priority. The recent release of the administration’s pro-growth, pro-jobs tax principles demonstrates a firm commitment to reform and willingness to engage constructively with Congress on the issue. The stars have aligned to make the prospects for tax reform better now than any time since 1986, when Congress last passed legislation to modernize the U.S. tax system.

Successful tax reform must embrace two fundamental principles: Competitive business tax rates and adoption of a modern international system that does not penalize U.S. companies for bringing back foreign earnings to the United States. President Trump’s proposals embrace these principles, which have strong support in Congress.

The CEOs of Business Roundtable are optimistic and focused on what is possible, knowing America’s top companies do well only when citizens share in the nation’s prosperity.

Tax reform presents a big opportunity. Congress and the president can seize it by making pro-growth reform their shared and immediate priority, working together to make sure it passes into law this year. With their survey responses, CEOs are sending a clear message: With tax reform, more businesses will be investing, and more Americans will be going to work.

Joshua Bolten

Tribune News Service

Mr. Bolten is president & CEO of the Business Roundtable, an association of leading U.S. companies. Readers may send him mail at 300 New Jersey Ave. NW, suite 800, Washington, D.C., 20001.

Mr. Bolten is president & CEO of the Business Roundtable, an association of leading U.S. companies. Readers may send him mail at 300 New Jersey Ave. NW, suite 800, Washington, D.C., 20001.