With just 35 days left for congressional lawmakers to hammer out a deal before Americans face the largest tax increase in history, the pace has quickened in the race to avert falling off the cliff.
Those present at White House meeting included business leaders in healthcare, finance, commodities, entertainment, construction and consumer products.
Among the attendees: Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS); Muhtar Kent, The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO); Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO); Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT); Ian Read, Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE); and Patricia Woertz, Archer Daniels Midland Co. (NYSE: ADM).
U.S. companies want Washington to act now as many are already feeling the pre-effects of the fiscal cliff. None want to experience the full impact, which the Congressional Budget Office warns will thrust the U.S. economy back into recession next year.
In anticipation, scores of businesses have laid off workers and shelved expansion projects. The uncertainty, Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) CEO Brain Moynihan recently explained, is holding back the nation's recovery from the Great Recession.
Putnam Investment CEO Robert Reynolds recently told The Wall Street Journal, "The greatest stimulus is certainty. You don't know what your tax rate is next year, you don't necessarily know what you're going to be paying in health care, capital gains, dividends. They all have a tremendous impact on the way people act."
Fiscal Cliff Meeting: Just for Show?Fears about Washington's powerlessness to avert impending tax increase and spending cuts have become a top and pressing priority. Consumers are tight with spending and are expected to rein in their spending habits even more as the fiscal cliff deadline approaches.
Should Congress let taxes increase for middle class American families come 2013, the projection is for $200 billion to be shaved off consumer spending.
No wonder CEOs are nervous.
Critics argue that the meeting looks more like a President Obama meeting to promote his fiscal cliff solution instead of discussing all options. They stress that the newly re-elected second-term president should be on Capitol Hill working on resolving the looming fiscal cliff instead of holding a powwow with Wall Street honchos.
But the president maintains his focus and concern is on protecting the middle class. The White House says that "a typical middle-class family of four" would pay Uncle Sam an additional $2,200 unless tax cuts are extended for them.
The President Obama fiscal cliff business meetings began Tuesday when the president met with small business leaders, and will continue Friday with a trip to a small business in Pennsylvania.
The White House is also vying for support for the president's proposals via Twitter with the hashtag #My2K, encouraging tweets from all about the fiscal cliff standoff.
Not everyone thinks we should avoid the fiscal cliff. In fact, some like Peter Schiff think it's time the United States faced its debt issues head on. Check out Schiff's comments, and share your own, here.
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The Wall Street Journal:
Business Leaders Spooked by Fiscal Cliff