CEOs rally to pressure politicians on deficit

Co-chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, former Sen. Alan Simpson, (R-WY)(R), and Erskine Bowles (L), participate in a Joint Deficit Reduction Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, on November 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. - 

Getting the national deficit under control will require cutting spending and raising tax revenue. That’s the message of an all-star group of CEOs, who are endorsing the principles of a group that favors this two-part approach.

Thursday’s announcement of the new corporate support -- which includes some of the business leaders ringing the New York Stock Exchange opening bell -- is part of the Fix the Debt Campaign. It was founded by Erskine Bowles and former Senator Alan Simpson, the previous chairs of the commission charged with finding solutions to the nation’s budget problems.

With a blend of cuts to government programs and more taxes, their proposal offered something for both parties to dislike. Consequently, it didn’t get enough support in Congress to become reality.

But Simpson and Bowles haven’t quit, continuing to make their case. They’ve worked to build support on the interview circuit, and now, by rallying CEOs, who worry about the fiscal cliff and consequences if Washington doesn’t take action.

"This is the right moment for these CEOs to speak out," says University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato. "The CEOs are obviously frustrated that neither candidate has seriously addressed the questions surrounding the fiscal cliff."

The clock is ticking. If there's no budget deal before January, the devastating defense and domestic cuts that make up the fiscal cliff become a reality. That's an outcome feared by Democrats, Republicans and the business community.

“One of the reasons you’re seeing business leaders step into this is because they understand that this isn’t a partisan issue,” says Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which is behind the Fix the Debt Campaign. “This is a problem that’s well known and we need to come together to solve it.”

The group hopes a bipartisan movement of business heavies will spur lawmakers to act, and the clock is ticking. No matter who wins the election in November, tough choices on both sides of the aisle will be required to avoid the much-discussed fiscal cliff.

View Comments