The head of the nation’s No. 1 bank by assets and chair of the Business Roundtable implored Washington lawmakers Tuesday to get to work on easing the nation’s tax burden.
“We have to do this,” Dimon said during a teleconference with reporters. “It’s been hurting our country for a long time. It’s time to fix it.”‘
President Donald Trump wants to slash taxes, particularly the U.S. corporate levy that is the highest in the world. However, his pro-growth proposals have gotten little traction from a Congress busy trying to enact a new national health-care plan and probing scandals inside the White House.
Dimon spoke as the Roundtable released a survey showing that CEO confidence is at its highest level in three years.
Much of that optimism, though, is predicated on getting an agenda through Congress that also includes lowered regulatory barriers and more spending on the nation’s ailing infrastructure. Should signs arise that the economic plans, and particularly tax reform, aren’t likely to be addressed soon, that could tamp down sentiment in a hurry.
“There is demand in the economy justifying investment. We’re seeing it across a lot of industrial sectors,” said Joshua Bolten, president and CEO of Business Roundtable. “What tax reform would do is … substantially increase the possibility and probability for greater investment.”
Trump’s critics believe the aggressive programs might add to a national debt that is approaching $20 trillion and a budget deficit projected to be $534 billion this fiscal year.
“We’d like to see it be fiscally responsible. That doesn’t necessarily mean complete budget neutrality, but it does mean substantially lower corporate tax rates and, importantly, a shift to a territorial system of taxation,” Bolten said. “I think those two changes alone, even if done completely revenue neutral, would be a big boost to our CEOs’ ability to invest and hire.”
Dimon said companies investing in countries with lower tax rates than the U.S. can and will reap the savings until the domestic tax situation is resolved.
“Business decisions are made at the margin,” he said. “At the margin we’ve been driving capital overseas.”