ICYMI: Business Roundtable CEOs Discuss State of the U.S. Economy, Lame-Duck Policy Priorities on CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’

Dec 9, 2022

On Tuesday, CNBC’s “Squawk Box” broadcasted live from Business Roundtable’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., featuring on-set interviews with multiple Business Roundtable CEOs. The interviews touched on the state of the U.S. economy and Roundtable policy priorities for the remainder of the 117th Congress and beyond, including energy permitting reform, restoration of full and immediate R&D expensing, sensible immigration policy changes and addressing the debt ceiling.

Business Roundtable CEO Joshua Bolten and nine member CEOs joined the show, including Roundtable Chair Mary Barra, Chair and CEO of General Motors; Beth Ford, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc.; Roundtable Infrastructure Committee Chair Brendan Bechtel, Chairman and CEO of Bechtel; Roundtable Trade and International Committee Chair Lance Fritz, Chairman, President and CEO of Union Pacific Railroad; Roundtable Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee Chair Greg Hayes, Chairman and CEO of Raytheon Technologies Corporation; Roundtable Education and Workforce Committee Chair Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines; Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Walmart; Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co.; and Darius Adamczyk, Chairman and CEO of Honeywell. 

On Pro-Growth Policies to Strengthen the U.S. Economy & Competitiveness 

  • Mary Barra: “Going forward, we’d like to see the debt ceiling resolved, R&D expensing … clearly immigration is important, and I would also comment on permitting reform because if you look at everything we’re trying to accomplish whether it’s on infrastructure or having more of the electric supply chain semiconductor supply chain in this country, we’re going to need to be able to get the permitting that allows that to happen on the timeline we need. So, I think there’s important work that BRT can work in bipartisan manner with Congress, with the Administration.”
  • Joshua Bolten: “The lame-duck [session] has already done an important thing, which is resolve the rail strike, which would have been devastating to the economy … but we’d also like to see them do several other things, among the most important, extend R&D expensing. … We’d love to see some permitting reform happen because of all the money that Congress appropriated [and incentivized] during the course of the last session … that money is not going out the door if you can’t get permits to build.” 
  • Beth Ford: “The Business Roundtable is about policy. Not politics. We need labor. We need immigration reform. It is not as though the farmer hasn’t tried to increase wages for laborers, but we cannot attract laborers in farming. We’re about 2.5 million workers short. … Yes, immigration reform can be difficult. We all want border security, but I can tell you both sides of the aisle understand the importance of immigration reform, especially as it relates to farm workers.”
  • Brendan Bechtel: “Permitting reform…it is the single most important bipartisan opportunity left for this session.” 
  • Lance Fritz: “We need technology to be advancing, that’s part of expensing R&D immediately. Everyone at BRT believes R&D is critically important. … When you talk labor market, I go to immigration reform, which is a third thing that Congress should be implementing.” 
  • Gregory Hayes: “I think more important for us in the defense industry, and really across American industry, is research and development. It’s about innovation and competing against Chinese interests. We spend $10 billion a year on R&D at Raytheon. I get a tax deduction this year of 20% of every dollar I spend. If I do that work in China, I get a tax deduction of $2 for every dollar I spend. … [The expiration of R&D expensing] cost me about $2 billion of cash this year. That’s cash I won’t be able to use to invest in property, equipment and people.” 

On How Companies Are Innovating

  • Brendan Bechtel discussed the impact of the bipartisan CHIPS bill: “The CHIPS Act directly helped to provide the opportunity we were just awarded in Ohio [for] what will be the largest semiconductor fab they [Intel] have anywhere in the world. … [It’s] going to create 5,000 to 7,000 high-quality, high-paying construction jobs …”
  • Scott Kirby spoke to sustainability efforts underway at United: “We really are the leader in sustainability efforts for global aviation. We have more sustainable aviation fuel commitments than the rest of the airlines combined, like aircraft [and] batteries. What we’re really trying to do, on some of this, it’s not about what the technology is going to do for us tomorrow, it’s about finding the people that are at the leading edge of technology on sustainability.” 
  • Doug McMillon discussed supply chain innovation: “There is incredible stuff in front of us … that whole suite, that supply chain innovation, robotics, the way we put data to work, that’s going to unlock a lot of value for the company going forward.” 

On the Economy and Expectations for 2023

  • Jamie Dimon: “The United States economy is the strongest economy in the world today so we should celebrate that. That’s why capital is coming here. Business is coming here. … If you look in the short run, the consumer is spending 10% more than last year and 40% more than pre-COVID … and they have a trillion and half more in their checking accounts than they did pre-COVID … and companies are in good shape too. … The other news, which is not good, is that rates are now 4%, on their way to 5%. Inflation is eroding everything I just said.”
  • Darius Adamczyk: “The consumer is still relatively healthy. They’ve changed how they spend their money. It’s gone from products to now services, so airlines, hotels are doing extraordinarily well … I’m not overly pessimistic on 2023. I do think the economy is going to be tougher than it was in 2022, but I don’t think it’s going to be a disaster.”  

The CEOs’ sentiments on the economy were reflected in the Business Roundtable Q4 2022 CEO Economic Outlook Survey released on Monday. For the full survey results, click here.

In addition, this week, the Roundtable also made public new data on its member companies’ economic impact in America. As major employers in every state, Business Roundtable CEOs lead companies that support 37 million American jobs, generate $10 trillion in sales activity and account for 24% of U.S. GDP. Additionally, Business Roundtable members pay 37% higher annual wages than the national average and generate $1.4 trillion in federal, state and local taxes annually.

For more on Business Roundtable member companies’ contributions to the U.S. economy, click here.