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AT&T CEO Says Fixing Fiscal Cliff Will Require Tax Hikes

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- AT&T Inc. Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, who met with President Barack Obama this week, said a budget deal to solve the so-called fiscal cliff must be found and will require both spending cuts and tax hikes.

“Now is the time for our nation’s leaders to put aside partisan or philosophical differences and act for the good of the country as a whole,” Stephenson said yesterday in a statement. “Failure to address this will result in severe market disruptions, a return to negative economic growth and businesses pulling in investment.”

CEOs are increasingly pressing for an agreement between the White House and Congress to avoid the $607 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts due to take effect in January. The Congressional Budget Office has said failure to reach an accord may push the economy into recession. So far, though, little progress has been publicly reported by Obama’s administration and Republican congressional leaders on a compromise to avert the fiscal cliff.

“Following a meeting this week with the president, as well as conversations with congressional leaders, I am more convinced than ever that a budget deal to avoid the ‘fiscal cliff’ must and can be found,” said Stephenson, who runs the largest U.S. telephone company. “This will require a compromise involving an increase in both tax rates and revenue in return for real and significant steps to reform entitlements and rein in federal spending.”

Shares of AT&T, based in Dallas, rose less than 1 percent to $34.13 yesterday. The stock has climbed 13 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Moritz in New York at smoritz6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net

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