Last Friday, JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chairman & CEO and Business Roundtable Chairman Jamie Dimon and Business Roundtable President & CEO Joshua Bolten joined MSNBC’s MTP Daily with Chuck Todd to offer insights on infrastructure policy, trade, tax reform and U.S. economic growth.
On renewing America’s infrastructure:
DIMON: “No matter what goes on in Washington, we’ve got to get this fixed … This is hurting growth, jobs, wages, American competitiveness. That’s what it’s doing. And we’ve got to do something about it. Both Democrats and Republicans want to get it fixed. We need to get it fixed.
BOLTEN: “When Jamie and I came together at the Business Roundtable just over a year ago, we had three priorities — tax reform, regulatory reform, and infrastructure. Those are the three legs of the stool that would make the U.S. truly the competitive country it needs to be in the global environment. Tax reform now is largely taken care of. We have a competitive, internationally competitive, tax code. Regulatory reform is on the way. There are improvements being made every day. So now, it’s time to focus on the third leg of the stool, which is really holding us back. This country can be the best place to do business in the world. And the portion of that stool that we now need to focus on in infrastructure.”
DIMON: “When President Kennedy said, ‘We’re going to put a man on the moon,’ eight years later, a man was walking the moon. Now, you say, ‘I need to fix a bridge or rebuild a bridge or have a new bridge.’ Eight years later, you’re still negotiating permits … If you have a thing that takes ten years to get approved, they’re not going do it. And by the way, the other cost of this thing is, because it takes so long to get things approved, it doubles or triples the cost. So you know, we really have gotten backwards in this. And our good, old-fashioned, can-do, American spirit, we’ve lost it. And we’ve got to just get it back somehow.”
BOLTEN: “It’s not just about the money. It’s about the way we approach it, the red tape involved, the enormous burden of permitting that has to be done one step after the other. A lot of those things can be fixed without a big legislative maneuver. And we’re pushing the administration to work with states and localities to help reduce that huge burden that’s now preventing us from building the infrastructure we need.”
On trade policy:
BOLTEN: “Most of our members have been very concerned about some of the approach that the Administration has taken on trade. They want to see a more rules-based, cooperative environment in which to operate. It doesn’t mean they don’t see problems, especially in China, that need to be addressed. But we’ve been very critical of the way the Administration has approached a lot of these issues.
DIMON: “I think the issue with trade is that tariffs themselves have unpredictable outcomes. The wrong people get hurt. Your allies are going to get hurt … People start to retaliate against each other. So you know, negotiation is fine. A lot of legitimate issues have been raised by the Administration … And we both strongly feel that NAFTA should get done, very strongly about NAFTA.”
BOLTEN: “They should complete a new NAFTA. There are improvements that can be made in NAFTA. But NAFTA should be made stronger, not weaker. It should be more rules-based, not less. And so we’d like to see them wrap up NAFTA. We’d like to see them have a successful negotiation with the Chinese. But it should be based on rules, on internationally accepted dispute settlement, not on threats and unilateral retaliation.”
On leadership from the business community:
DIMON: “If business and government collaborate, all these things can be fixed. And there has been great business-government collaboration. We’re doing it in Detroit, with the mayor in Detroit. We’re doing it with the mayor of San Francisco, you know, the mayor of New Orleans … Everything can be fixed. This is a can-do nation. And you know, we need good policy, not just people throwing barbs at each other and ideology.”
BOLTEN: “You’ve got to like what JP Morgan Chase is doing in your community. And that’s what we’re encouraging all of our members to do. All of our members are stepping up and doing it. They’re deeply involved in education and workforce developments in their community. They’re deeply involved in charitable undertakings. They’re creating jobs, you know, good jobs, in each of their communities.”
On how tax reform will benefit America’s economy:
DIMON: So the BRT supported competitive business taxes … Go 20 years ago, we were at 40 percent federal and state. The rest of the world was 40 percent. We stayed at 40. The rest of the world came down somewhere between 15 and 25. Over 20 years, that caused a lot of damages. Companies, capital, brains moved overseas … What you’re going to see is two things in the taxes. One is the immediate benefits. Companies have immediately started to do more capital expenditures, raise wages, do more philanthropy. You know, banks are doing more investing immediately, because of competitive taxes. But the real benefit is cumulative, over time, is that capital is retained here. On my trip in Asia, you know, a lot of those companies, and I see ministers of finance and presidents, prime ministers, you know what they say? ‘Boy, you did something bold and brave. It’s going to make it much harder for us to be competitive.’ Because now, you can put a plant in the United States, where you’re paying 21 percent, and ship something to Asia, whereas, before, you would’ve put that plant somewhere else and ship to Asia. So it’s a very good thing. You’ll see the effect over time. We need a competitive tax system.”