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September 25, 2017

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US CEOs call for congressional compromise on US fiscal 'cliff'

WASHINGTON--Corporate chief executives ramped up their calls on Monday for Congress to reach a compromise deal that keeps the looming "fiscal cliff" from crushing the U.S. economy and starts to shrink U.S. debt levels.

CEOs of some of the largest U.S. companies said that Congress will need to raise taxes on the wealthy and cut federal benefit programs like Medicare and Social Security to effectively shrink federal debt and safeguard economic growth.

Their message runs squarely against long-held partisan positions on Capitol Hill, where Republicans have resisted any revenue increases to reduce deficits and Democrats have largely vowed to maintain popular entitlement programs.

"There has to be shared pain," Robert Greifeld, chief executive of stock exchange operator Nasdaq OMX Group Inc., told a Bloomberg Television roundtable.

"It's very difficult for politicians to run on a platform where they're getting everybody mad at them. But for us to address this, there's going to have to be revenue increases. There are going to have to be spending cuts," Greifeld said.

"We need compromise," added Scott Davis, CEO of United Parcel Service Inc.

"It's not going to get solved on one party's wishes. Simpson-Bowles lit the path forward. It was a good plan," Davis told the Bloomberg Roundtable, referring to the 2010 presidential commission that recommended both tax hikes and spending cuts. Simpson-Bowles' prescriptions were never adopted.

The corporate chieftains are among 100 CEO members of a campaign called "Fix the Debt," which is urging Washington to set aside partisan differences to put the United States on a sustainable fiscal path.

Steven Rattner, head of Willett Advisors LLC and the former U.S. Treasury's auto industry "restructuring czar," said that CEOs were converging on solutions that are "balanced and where everything is on the table."

"For the first time, there is tremendous support in the business community even if it isn't exactly what everyone in the business community would want to see," Rattner said.

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