An influential business group called on Congress Thursday to stop playing politics with federal budget deficits and put "everything on the table," declaring that both tax increases and spending cuts are needed to restore the nation's finances to health.
More than 100 current and former chief executive officers signed a declaration released by the Committee for Economic Development, a nonpartisan policy-research group of business and university leaders.
The initiative is significant because it adds pressure from another influential voice to the political debate over the federal budget. The business group's push comes at a time when fiscal issues have become Washington's most prominent topic, one likely to dominate domestic politics through the 2012 elections.
"As leaders in the business community, we expect to share the effects of reductions in public programs or increases in taxes — or more likely, both," said the statement, supported by CEOs and prominent experts in federal finance. "We do not seek sacrifice for its own sake. But we — and we believe all Americans — are prepared to contribute our fair share to make our country sound, secure and strong again. What is good for America is good for American business."
The nation is expected to have a deficit of $1.6 trillion in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. Total federal debt is around $14.3 trillion. The ratings agency Standard & Poor's this week issued a negative outlook for U.S. government bonds, raising the chance that it might downgrade the United States' rating of creditworthiness for the first time. The S&P warning quaked financial markets, underscoring the threat to the U.S. economy if the budget problem is left unresolved.