ICYMI: Business Roundtable CEOs Discuss the U.S. Economy, Pro-Growth Policy Priorities on ‘Squawk Box’

Mar 14, 2024

Last Thursday, CNBC’s “Squawk Box” broadcasted live from Business Roundtable in Washington, DC. Five Roundtable CEOs joined show co-anchor Becky Quick to discuss the U.S. economy and pro-growth tax, trade, regulatory and workforce development policies.

Business Roundtable member CEOs who joined the show included:

  • Chuck Robbins, Business Roundtable Chair and Chair and Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Cisco: watch here.
  • Ryan M. Lance, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, ConocoPhillips: watch here.
  • Judy Marks, Chair, CEO & President, Otis Worldwide Corporation: watch here.
  • Jennifer Rumsey, Chair and CEO, Cummins Inc.: watch here.
  • Gregory J. Hayes, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, RTX: watch here.

Here’s what they said:

On a Competitive, Pro-Growth Tax System:

  • Business Roundtable Chair Chuck Robbins, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Cisco: “I think what we have to focus on is what is it that creates jobs in America? And so, when we think about the tax extenders that we’re looking for right now — that are either expired or expiring soon — not being able to expense R&D costs in the United States means, where are you going to put your R&D jobs? Somewhere else. These are the kinds of things that we think would help create jobs and help fuel the economy.”
  • Ryan Lance, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ConocoPhillips: “It is about maintaining a competitive tax system. Part of that is the tax extender package that’s in front of the Senate today. It’s about enhancing the workforce development process, it’s about free trade, and it’s about preventing burdensome regulation.”

On Regulation: 

  • Ryan Lance on the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export permitting pause: “What you do today sows the seeds for the next couple of years. If what you’re going to do is put a pause on the LNG permitting … you put a lot of uncertainty on that business, so people aren’t going to start creating the gas supply to feed the LNG export chain and to feed the domestic needs in the U.S., so you actually cause prices to rise. But you are sowing the seeds of that next issue that will come in the next couple years.”
  • Business Roundtable Energy and Environment Committee Chair Jennifer Rumsey, Chair and CEO of Cummins Inc. on the SEC’s final climate disclosure rule: “They [the SEC] revised that from the original version which had some really concerning things, including expectations around Scope 3 and level of reporting. We continue to study that 800-plus page document, but fundamentally the question is ‘is this an area where the SEC should be asking companies to disclose and what’s going to be the level of reporting or work required?’”
  • Chuck Robbins on the SEC’s final climate disclosure rule: “We’d like to see the SEC stick to their congressional remit. … Everybody here [at Business Roundtable] is committed to climate change, or controlling our carbon footprint and doing the right thing for it, but some of the requirements, first of all, we’re not sure it’s the SEC’s remit to do that … It’s just an incredible amount of work that actually increases costs at a time when we’re talking about inflation and we’re talking about the costs that the American consumer is dealing with on daily goods. And as regulation increases costs on corporations, those costs are going to flow through. It’s no different than a lot of the tariffs that we’re seeing right now. Those costs are being pushed through to the consumer.”

On Trade: 

  • Business Roundtable Trade and International Committee Chair Judy Marks, Chair, CEO and President of Otis Worldwide Corporation: “We are fully supportive of high-quality free trade agreements that give us access to markets and equal footing to compete. That competition allows us to grow our businesses, to create more jobs here in America. If you put all that together, whether there are tariffs or not, the consumer benefits. … We want access to markets, especially in Asia. We were hopeful at the beginning of the year that we’d make progress there and markets in India, Southeast Asia. Those are growth markets for Otis. Those are growth markets for the people, but we’ve yet to see real structural progress. … The CEOs of the Business Roundtable are pro-trade, are very focused on growing our economy, growing jobs and creating an economy here where people can thrive.”
  • Chuck Robbins: “If you’re putting tariffs on household goods and it reduces choice for the American consumer, it increases costs to the American consumer.”

On an Ever-Ready Workforce: 

  • Chuck Robbins: “You’ve got a quarter of the population that feels like they’ve been left behind. That feels like they haven’t had opportunity, and we want to help solve that. At Cisco, we run training programs all around the world. We’ll have close to 5 million students go through that this year to try and give them digital skills so they can have a future. Most every company here has some sort of program like that. We hosted a workforce development day here earlier this week where there was a lot of discussion about how we can continue to drive this.”  

Related News: Business Roundtable CEO Joshua Bolten released a statement last week echoing these sentiments: 

  • “There are steps President Biden and Congress can take right now that would help lower costs for consumers and strengthen the economy. The Administration can remove tariffs on thousands of products that are costing American families, companies and manufacturers tens of billions of dollars each year. They can also reengage with our friends and allies to establish new, high-standard trade agreements that protect American jobs, open up new markets for U.S. businesses and workers and lower costs for U.S. manufacturers. And they can recalibrate their burdensome approach to regulations that is saddling American businesses and consumers with unnecessary costs.
  • “At the same time, Congress can pass the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act and A Stronger Workforce for America Act, which would help equip more workers with the skills and education they need to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing economy. They can also pass the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act to restore pro-growth tax policies that helped American businesses pioneer countless technological advancements and essential consumer products.”

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