Richard Smith, Chairman, President and CEO of Realogy Corporation, was among over 150 chief executive officers whose signature was included on a letter to the President and Congress this week that calls for “smart reforms” related to the so-called fiscal cliff.
Smith along with 158 other CEOs sent the letter on behalf of the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies with more than $7.3 trillion in annual revenues and nearly 16 million employees.
The letter released this week is as follows:
Dear Mr. President:
As CEOs of companies representing more than $7.3 trillion in annual revenues and more than 16 million employees, we write to express our belief that the United States will suffer significant negative economic, employment, and social consequences for going over the fiscal cliff. In many cases the damage will be long-lasting, if not permanent. But it does not have to happen.
We urge you to step forward and demonstrate that principled compromise is once again possible and that the American political system that underpinned the economic success of our nation and others can function as designed. For far too long, political paralysis has fueled global uncertainty that discourages businesses from investing and hiring new workers. This paralysis must come to an end, and in a way that resists the temptation to declare winners and losers.
We pledge our active support for a compromise that includes comprehensive and meaningful tax and entitlement reforms that result in market-credible spending reductions and revenue growth. The deal should be a balanced solution to the fiscal cliff and long-term deficit and debt issues. To address these challenges with the scale of response required, no options should be precluded from a potential solution.
Compromise will require Congress to agree on more revenue – whether by increasing rates, eliminating deductions, or some combination thereof – and the administration to agree to larger, meaningful structural and benefit entitlement reforms and spending reductions that are a fiscally responsible multiple of increased revenues. By initiating these reforms simultaneously, and without undermining the broader reforms both parties believe should be pursued, you can rebuild the trust needed for our political system to function and the confidence needed for businesses to invest in new factories, equipment, and employees.
For most of our careers, the American system of governance earned global respect and emulation. Politicians put aside partisan rancor and ideological purity to deal with major challenges. This was a significant asset for the country, a source of confidence with respect to investment, trade, and commerce.
This hard‐won asset has been tarnished over time, albeit unintentionally.
You now have an opportunity to turn political swords into governing plowshares. This opportunity must not be squandered. The U.S. economy has been stalled on the road to greater prosperity. We believe it is primed for strong and sustained expansion. American businesses know how to create jobs and compete in a diverse global market. We are poised and ready to do so if the conditions for growth are set in a comprehensive agreement on the fiscal cliff.
When all is said and done Americans are interested in solutions. Winston Churchill once said that “Americans can be counted on to do the right thing after exhausting all other alternatives.”
We just need to do so before it is too late.
About BRT: BRT member companies comprise nearly a third of the total value of the U.S. stock market and invest more than $150 billion annually in research and development – equal to 61 percent of U.S. private R&D spending. Our companies pay $182 billion in dividends to shareholders and generate nearly $500 billion in sales for small and medium-sized businesses annually. BRT companies give more than $9 billion a year in combined charitable contributions. For more information visit http://businessroundtable.org.