Chief executives of more than 80 big U.S. corporations, including Goldman Sachs , JPMorgan and Boeing, joined forces on Thursday to pressure Congress to reduce the federal deficit with tax reform and spending cuts.
Ahead of a gathering at the New York Stock Exchange, the U.S. corporate chiefs said it is urgent and essential to put in place a bipartisan plan to fix America's debt.
"We are one deal away from fixing the debt and putting our nation back on a stronger economic footing that can restore us to greater job growth," Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini wrote.
"If the Congress can commit to a plan outline as early as possible after the election, it will restore business confidence in our economy and investment will follow," he added.
If Congress fails to reach a deficit reduction deal by the end of the year, it will automatically trigger big spending cuts and tax increases in 2013. This so-called "fiscal cliff" would hit the still-recovering U.S. economy hard.
The U.S. deficit this year will top $1 trillion for a fourth straight year, pushing the national debt past $16 trillion. While the United States currently borrows at record low interest rates, investors worry this will change.
The CEOs' statement was organized by a group called "The Campaign to Fix the Debt," which is urging Washington to set aside partisan differences to put the country on a sustainable fiscal path. The nonpartisan group said it has raised $30 million over six weeks to help fund a national campaign to push the issue.
The group said any fiscal plan must be bipartisan, tackle all areas of the budget and include tax reform. It also urged the government to reform and improve the efficiency of healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
"This is about putting the country back on a path that's sustainable for us and for our children," Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said in a call to reporters.
The CEO group said recommendations of the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission provides an effective framework for a fiscal plan. The commission's proposal has several options including trimming tax rates for all income groups.
Simpson-Bowles also calls for slashing many popular tax deductions and adding them back only selectively.
Congress is set to reconvene after the Nov. 6 presidential election but it is unclear what action lawmakers will take, depending on whether President Barack Obama wins a second term or is defeated by Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Copyright 2012 by Reuters. All rights reserved.