Fixing U.S. Fiscal Policy: Ask the CEOs

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The U.S. national debt -- everybody talks about it, but nobody really does anything about it.

Washington has a few tricks in its bag whenever the debt ceiling is approached. But quick fixes can only work for so long before global confidence in the nation's government and currency erode.

This week, TheStreet asks CEOs what it will take to restore some fiscal sanity to the U.S. government.
Richard Thompson

Power-One ( PWER) CEO Richard Thompson: "I'm a non-debt guy," said the chief executive of the Camarillo, Calif.-based solar inverter company. "You can see it in our company, cash positive, and personally I manage my finances the same way. I don't want to see debt we have accumulated passed on to our grandchildren. We have enough resources in this country to live within our means and we've gotten a little too 'big government.'

"I realize it means cutting social programs and limiting what we ship abroad in terms of support to other governments, but I am a Stone Age guy and would take you back to the Monroe Doctrine and ask you, "What's wrong with that?"

"My stance as a citizen creeps into my stance as a businessman, too. As far as the renewable energy industry, we don't depend on the U.S. government, and we can get to grid parity without the support; it just might take a year or two longer. Support would be good to have because it creates jobs and keeps greenbacks in the U.S. That said, I was recently in the office of a U.S. senator, and I asked him about this issue, and his response was, 'We aren't spending on anything.' I was pleased with the answer, if they stick to it, if there is no pork barrel."

"One potential solution to the debt-ceiling problem can impact the competitiveness of U.S. companies. I've heard various ideas about eliminating the corporate income tax as a way to make the U.S. a more competitive manufacturing base. This is not renewable energy specifically, but think of all the foreign countries that have inexpensive labor and big balance sheets. You can figure out which ones those are. Bring the manufacturing back home. There are lots of large companies that already are barely paying income tax. It's the mid-sized to small companies and small business owners paying the corporate income tax."


John Chen , CEO of Sybase
Sybase ( SAP) CEO John Chen: "I think everybody knows they need to balance the budget. It's like household finance or company finance. If you don't make money and you don't balance the budget and you just keep borrowing -- you will never be there.

"On a shorter term, I guess we really need to promote trade around the world. We say this, we don't do enough -- in my opinion. Then on a longer term, immigration to attract talents. And to create our own talents in education -- to make sure we have a certain standard. A lot of people tell me -- oh that's a very long term solution -- I don't think so. If you just start focusing on a high school standard -- in four years those will be great standards and a great talent pool. We need a talent pool in the innovation world.


Intuit CEO Brad Smith

Intuit ( INTU) CEO Brad Smith: "First of all, it's not an easy problem to solve. No. 2, we all own the problem together -- and I mean citizens, private industry and the government. No. 3, it's going to take good fiscal discipline to make it happen -- it's going to need spending cuts, and I do believe that we'll have to increase revenue.

"I don't think you can solve it in just one way. It's going to take doing all of the above, and we're all going to have to share some of the burden.


What are America's corporate leaders saying about the issues of the day? TheStreet's reporters, during the course of their weekly coverage, will pose a thematic question to the business executives they interview. Have a question you'd like to see TheStreet ask the CEOs? Send it to tips@thestreet.com. Follow TheStreet on Twitter.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.

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