Fiscal Deal Must Be President’s Priority, Engler Says

Structural changes to the U.S. budget, including an overhaul of entitlement programs and the tax code, must be the next president’s priority, said John Engler, president of the Business Roundtable.

“We have got to have a long-term fiscal trajectory for the nation which allows us to balance our budgets, bring those deficits down, have a tax structure that allows us to compete globally,” Engler said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Peter Cook for “Capitol Gains” airing Nov. 4.

Engler, a three-term Republican governor of Michigan, said he expects that Mitt Romney will win the presidential election Nov 6. Engler’s Washington-based organization, which represents chief executive officers of the largest U.S. companies, is neutral in the election.

“I think what they want is a government both in the White House and in Congress who is ready to roll up its sleeves and go to work,” he said. “We’ve got so much that’s been deferred.”

Congress returns the week after the election for a lame- duck session in which lawmakers will address the so-called fiscal cliff of tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January.

Companies want a lower tax rate and are willing to consider ending some tax breaks to get that done, said Engler, 64. The U.S. statutory tax rate is 35 percent, the highest in the industrialized world. Most companies pay less than that.

“What you can’t do is use, say, tax expenditures, deductions, credits and take that over and use it for spending in other parts of the budget and then still get the kind of tax reform you need,” Engler said.

Democrats, including President Barack Obama, say deficit reduction must rely on a “balanced” approach that includes tax increases and spending cuts.

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Rubin in Washington at rrubin12@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net

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