The text of a letter to Congress signed by 80 CEOs, first published in The Wall Street Journal, asks for a number of actions to be taken soon so the economy will not be ruined, now and in the future. Most members of Congress will have trouble deciphering the document, which contains suggestions that have been pressed on them many times, but that they do not appear to understand. Other, more literate members, will ball up the letter and stick it in some dark drawer. These more intelligent members understand that to vote for many of the provisions in the letter could cost them their jobs, their chance to side with the presidential candidate fielded by their party, or their standing among their party’s elite. Put another way, the opinions of CEOs do not matter any more than those of blue-collar workers. They may even matter less, given the size of the blue-collar population.
The core of the letter reads:
Policy makers should acknowledge that our growing debt is a serious threat to the economic well-being and security of the United States.
It is urgent and essential that we put in place a plan to fix America’s debt. An effective plan must stabilize the debt as a share of the economy, and put it on a downward path.
This plan should be enacted now, but implemented gradually to protect the fragile economic recovery and to give Americans time to prepare for the changes in the federal budget.
Specifically, it must be understood, according to the letter, that the major causes and solutions of these issues are within entitlement programs, the tax code and Social Security. Without major alterations in these, America’s financial future is seriously threatened.
Scores of economists, tax experts, people from the Congressional Budget Office and average citizens have climbed the steps of the Capitol to make similar complaints and offer similar suggestions to those made by the CEOs. The reactions among congressmen has been the same. In public, members of each party blame the other for gridlock. Many members can see the fiscal cliff, and in some cases understand its implications, and many believe it will do extreme economic damage. But better to be elected than to salvage what growth the U.S. economy has mustered.
The CEO letter is hardly worth the paper it is written on.
Douglas A. McIntyre