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CEO Drumbeat for Tax Reform Grows Louder

Thursday, 8 Nov 2012 | 6:10 PM ET
DNY59 | Vetta | Getty Images

Following President Obama's re-election on Tuesday, CEOs, investors and other business leaders are pushing for Congress and the president to reach a deal on the looming "fiscal cliff" and corporate-tax reform.

On Thursday, ratings agency Standard & Poor's warned there was a 15 percent chance the U.S. could go off the fiscal cliff when automatic tax hikes and spending cuts kick in at the end of the year. According to estimates from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, going off the cliff could take $600 billion out of the economy and cause a recession.

Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs wants corporate tax reform to be part of any solution.

"Maybe that's too much to hope for," he said on Thursday, "but if that happened maybe some of that $16 billion we have offshore can come back home and go to work." Jacobs said that Qualcomm could use some of that cash to invest and create more jobs in the U.S.

(Read More: Obama's To-Do List: What He Plans for a Second Term.)

Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform president, is also calling for lower taxes on businesses.

"The Europeans have a top marginal tax rate of 28 percent on their businesses and we have 35 percent on our businesses," Norquist noted.

Disney's CEO, Robert Iger, said that higher corporate tax rates ake the economy less competitive and constrain economic growth. Iger advocates not only reducing the rate but also closing some of the loopholes.

He called on politicians to "deal with (the fiscal cliff) immediately and deal with it productively. Don't threaten the country and our economy."

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A solution to the fiscal cliff may also have implications for health care. Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania said, "One of the things I would say is we have to be careful when we come to the health care, not to go to the old tried and true solution, which is just reduce the rates of payment to hospitals and doctors."

Emanuel said a fiscal cliff deal needs to result in a much more modernized Medicare system that looks at how the program is designed and redesigns it in a more intelligent way.

* Correction: An earlier version of this story carried a quote from Jacobs saying Qualcomm held $60 billion offshore.

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