A group of chief executives of leading US companies presented Wednesday a roadmap to put the struggling economy back on a solid growth track, create jobs and sharpen global competitiveness.
Amid political gridlock in Washington, the Business Roundtable, representing companies with over $6 trillion in annual revenues, laid out a broad plan that includes streamlining regulation, tax and immigration reform, and improving education.
"Accelerating economic growth and job creation are top priorities for American companies and American workers," said Jim McNerney, chairman, president and CEO of The Boeing Company, and Business Roundtable chairman.
The CEOs of the big companies, including Procter & Gamble, Dow Chemical, Caterpillar and ExxonMobil, urged an end to the political impasse gripping Washington, making it nearly impossible to take the steps needed to spur strong growth.
"If Washington and business can once again find the ability to get aligned on fundamental priorities, American business will once again unleash America's economic potential," McNerney said.
At a closed-door meeting with President Barack Obama late Tuesday, the top executives presented their "Taking Action for America" plan in an effort to engage the administration and Congress in a cooperative drive to restore US economic power.
The Business Roundtable's plan calls for a balanced federal budget, excluding interest payments on debt, within the next five years; streamlining the federal regulatory process; adoption of a US corporate tax rate in line with other rich countries.
They also seek a "coherent national strategy" to make US energy systems "more diverse, more domestic and more efficient."
The business leaders said it was time to prioritize education and immigration reforms to build a skilled workforce.
Obama, addressing the CEOs Tuesday before the meeting was closed to the public, reiterated that tax reform should reward US companies that invest in the US but warned it would be "a difficult task."
"If you're a CEO that's willing to bring jobs back to America, we want to do everything we can to help you succeed," he said.
"Anybody who has been involved in tax discussions in any legislature, but especially Congress, knows that it's like pulling teeth. But it is the right thing to do for us to become more competitive."