Whether you love or loathe President Obama’s policies, chances are, you’ve got an opinion. Check out how 10 of the nation’s leading CEOs differed when Business Week recently asked them to rate the current administration’s policies on healthcare, taxes and business (then tell us your own thoughts in the comments section below).
On healthcare reform:
- Angela Braly, CEO of WellPoint (the nation’s leading health insurer): “The President is doing the right thing by bringing in leaders from hospitals, physicians, nurses, employers, advocacy groups, and private insurers, among others. Only by working together will we be able to develop a sustainable solution for America’s healthcare system.”
- Jeffrey Kindler, CEO, Pfizer: “Obama’s healthcare reform is making more progress than a lot of people would have predicted. We’re on the verge of a bill coming out of the House that’s clearly going to happen … The biggest challenge is this issue around the public plan. How do we pay for it? I do think we have to accept the reality that the vast majority of the people in this country get their insurance from employers and if we create a system that provides incentives for employers to not provide their employees with insurance, then under certain scenarios huge numbers of people under public option would move out of the employer system and into the public system. That would not be a good outcome because it would impose a tremednous financial burden on the taxpayers.”
On tax reform:
- Charles Schwab, Founder and Chairman, Charles Schwab: “What we haven’t done is restore the confidence of the people who create the jobs … The biggest uncertainty is: Where are taxes going to go? The quicker you can bring certainty[on that issue], the quicker you restore confidence.”
- Duncan Niederauer, CEO of NYSE Euronext, which operates the New York Stock Exchage: “A place where I do not think they struck the right chord is on the tax proposal regarding overseas earnings of multinational corporations headquartered in the U.S. The overwhelming view from that constituent group is that if the proposal were to go through, it would at best require a lot of U.S. headquartered companies to eliminate jobs to reduce costs and make up for the increased tax burden. More challengingly, it would encourage a lot of these companies to contemplate being incorporated elsewhere and potentially moving jobs out of this country.”
On business and regulation:
- Robert Greifeld, CEO, Nasdaq: “Within the leadership of the business community, there is concern and I would say that the attitude is not so much wait-and-see, but wary. They’re wary with respect to trade policy. They’re wary with respect to tax policy and obviously are also concerned with the burden of health-care costs. There’s a fair amount of trepidation in the business community and what the Administration policies might mean to their success in the future. In terms of the concern in the business community, I think, it is greater today than it was back in November.”
- Duncan Niederauer, CEO of NYSE Euronext: “We all know we need some regulatory reform here and to bring the opaque markets out of the shadows and into the light. But there’s a real danger, in our view, that there ends up being excessive regulation that stifles creation of new business and new jobs.”
- W. James McNerney, Jr.: “A level playing field for American companies and workers in international markets is more important than ever. I see clear evidence that the Administration understands the issue and its importance to U.S. economic health.”
- Donald Trump, CEO, The Trump Organization: “He’s handled the tremendous mess he walked into very well. He still has a daunting task ahead of him but he appears to be equal to the challenge. He has kept his eye on both national and international issues and his visits to foreign countries have shown him to be warmly received, which is certainly a change from the last Administration. I believe he should pay more attention to OPEC and what’s going on there, but overall I believe he’s done a very good job.”
- Michael Dell, Founder and CEO, Dell: “There are some aspects of what is in the economic recovery act around broadband, healthcare, and IT spending that we think are good things. We’re concerned, like many, that one word that seems to be missing from a lot of discussions is competitiveness. How do all of these things make America more competitive? It’s a word that should be used more in Washington.”
- Jeffrey Katzenberger, CEO, Dreamworks Animation: “I don’t think that any President in modern history has had to face a deeper or more difficult or more complicated set of issues from the first moment he set foot in the White House, and I think he has done an exceptional job of methodically working his way through that horrendous set of problems. He had to make a lot of decisions, and some of them will be wrong, but many, many of them will turn out right.”
- Mohamed El-Erian, CEO, Pimco: “On one side he has been able to stabilize the financial center and institute major structural reforms. And he still maintains enormous popularity with the American people. On the negative side, the jobs picture is worse than anticipated, and unemployment itself is becoming a big policy challenge. It’s going from being a lagging indicator to being a leading indicator. The major issue people are going to second guess in the next six months is his decision to pursue both agendas. Was that the right one or should have he done it sequentially?”
So what do you think? Which CEOs make valid points, which ones are off target? Where do you think the current administration’s succeeding, and where could it be more effective?
We welcome opposing (and parallel) points of view in the comments section below.
For the full article, including a complete breakdown of quotes from all 10 CEOs, check out “CEOs Rate Obama’s Performance,” by Joseph Weber,
Business Week, 8/3/09.