Wall Street Journal CEO Council Identifies Priorities for Business and Government

/ Source: GlobeNewswire

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Wall Street Journal's annual CEO Council meeting concluded today with the release of specific priorities that both government and business must address to restore global growth and to increase public confidence in business. The plans voted by CEO Council members as the top two priorities each focused on job creation – leading with a call to foster global trade, followed by a call for the president to encourage a competitive business environment and be an advocate for business in general.

The CEO Council worked together in task force sessions charged with identifying and ranking the most urgent priorities. Leading subject-matter experts provided key perspectives and information for the discussion, which focused on five key topics: fresh approaches to energy and the environment, the future of global finance, creating sustainable jobs, restoring confidence in business and next step for healthcare.

The list of priorities set, ranked in order, include:


Aggressively promote a global marketplace that benefits U.S. businesses & consumers. Emphasize free trade agreements, equalize corporate taxes and launch a joint public-private effort to promote trade. Remain open to imports that provide lower-priced goods to U.S. consumers, fueling job-creating spending.


The president must advocate for a competitive business environment to create healthy companies, jobs and rising standards of living. He must be an advocate for business in general.


In addition to addressing malpractice, attack larger problem of defensive medicine, the overuse of care solely due to fear of lawsuits. Rather than focusing only on award caps, reform liability laws to create a safe harbor for physicians who follow evidence-based practice guidelines. Explore alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and venues.


Winning public confidence is all about job creation. Business and government should stimulate long-term investment in the U.S. and make U.S. companies more competitive globally. Should include: 10 point cut in corporate tax rate; 100% depreciation on capital equipment through 2012; permanent R&D tax credit; cut in taxes on repatriated earnings, provided earnings are reinvested, among other measures.


U.S. should reduce its budget deficit to stabilize its debt-to-GDP ratio and should sustain recent increases in private savings. Deficit reduction should include spending cuts, tax increases and credible budget rules. Tax policy should encourage private savings. U.S. should recognize the value of the dollar's reserve currency role by avoiding policies that depress its value or undermine the creditworthiness of the United States.


Liberalize visa and quota allowances in the U.S. to attract and keep the best and brightest from the rest of the world.


Promote a territorial tax system; allow expensing of capital equipment and software; change the capital gains tax (reduce it to zero over four years) so it applies to everyone, including non-profits.


Promote development of all domestic resources with appropriate environmental safeguards and a regulatory system that is timely and predictable and avoids a backdoor, de facto moratorium. Don't pick winners.


Reimburse for quality outcomes rather than volume. Incentivize team-based care (including greater use of non-physicians, and novel delivery mechanisms such as accountable care organizations and medical homes). Reimbursement should encourage alternate care settings including home and hospice care.


Ensure long-term commitment by the federal government to basic research and development for new energy sources and carbon mitigation, and provide stable incentives for R&D in the private sector and universities. Energy storage is crucial, yet technological breakthroughs are necessary before deploying batteries and fuel cells at scale. Focus on R&D to bring down costs rather than mandates and subsidies for immediate deployment.


Put the U.S. at the forefront of energy-efficiency technology, both to curb waste at home and to create markets abroad. Policies should include building codes, appliance standards and incentives to deploy new energy-efficient technologies.


Create programs marrying public money with private capital to fund economically important infrastructure projects, particularly in energy policy. Leading examples: smart grid and alternative energy.


Use disease management or prevention programs for major chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, depression. Aggregate information on successful approaches from employer innovators and other countries to serve as best-practice models.


A comprehensive energy policy that provides consistency and predictability for investment. Clearer policy on auto fuel efficiency, siting of electrical transmission, and carbon constraints -- avoiding a patchwork of state rules. Consider the country's massive natural gas resource and create a path for nuclear and renewables. Be honest about the continued primacy of fossil fuels and costs. Pause and think before issuing new regulations.


Help employers, insurers, employees, and providers easily get public and transparent data on all providers' performance, measured against nationally accepted standards. Incentivize use of providers with best outcomes/practices. Enable consumers to use data on outcomes to make better choices about health.


Business needs to advocate for long-term solutions such as education reform, more research and development, changing the U.S. visa policy to keep foreign students working in the U.S. after they graduate from schools here. The discussion is too focused on the short-term.


Bring employers' perspectives, ideas and voices to the health-care realm -- including granting them freedom to design innovative benefit plans that include sticks as well as carrots for healthful behaviors. Create workplace wellness programs for issues such as obesity, smoking, disease prevention -- emphasizing activity.


Restore American companies' leadership in developing and exporting energy technology around the world. Remove tax policies and other burdens that impede U.S. companies' global competitiveness.


Restructure housing finance in the U.S. to narrow the government's role to maintaining market stability and targeting groups such as first-time homebuyers. This means gradually reducing the role of government, including the GSEs, in housing, reviving the private mortgage market and reducing tax breaks for the mortgage interest deduction.


Adopt policies to provide more debt and equity capital to small businesses (could be public, private or joint effort). Create a more effective venture/microfinance market for new businesses with appropriate regulation based on company structure.


The U.S. needs to engage in the global marketplace, rather than complain. This effort needs to be led by the Obama Administration and business. The public needs to understand that there are benefits to be had from engaging globally, and business needs to do a better job of explaining what we're doing well in the international market.


The U.S. and allies should encourage China and other emerging markets to adopt incentives for domestic-led growth, including incentives for consumption, the development of services industries, beginning a social safety net, and allowing the yuan to rise.


Companies should talk less about benefits to shareholders and short-term profits and instead focus on customer needs, investment in workers and sustainability (from ecology to education.) We talk too much about benefits we provide to shareholders. We should be talking about benefits provided to our employees, customers and to the public. This will boost public confidence in business.


Central banks and other regulators must be more forceful in defining and enforcing Basel III and other financial regulations consistently across countries. New financial regulations, including Dodd-Frank, must be implemented carefully, quickly and transparently to provide certainty which market participants need. Create rules that allow failure of big institutions.

Opening the Journal's CEO Council meeting last night — with more than 100 CEOs, leading policy makers and members of the U.S. Congress participating – was Lawrence H. Summers, national economic council director, followed by commentary from former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo and Min Zhu, Special Advisor to the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. Following, Sen. John McCain led an open discussion with other members of the CEO Council, and other distinguished members of Congress including: Sen. Evan Bayh (D., Ind.), Sen. Jim Cooper (D. Tenn.), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R. Iowa) and Sen. John Thune, Republican policy Committee Chair (R., S.D.).

The results of the CEO Council meeting will be published in a Journal Report to be published on Nov. 22. For more information, please visit .

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