Want companies to stop hoarding cash? Here’s how

Most cash rich companies
Most cash rich companies

Apple announced during its earnings release on Wednesday that it was sitting on $151 billion in cash, but it's certainly not the only company stockpiling money.

"There are very high levels of potential income investment sitting on the sidelines," said Jared Bernstein, former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden and a CNBC contributor.

Estimates of cash hoarding by corporations vary from $1.5 trillion to upward of $5 trillion. That's money that some say could be put to better use like giving back to shareholders, creating jobs and stimulating the economy.

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"If we lowered the corporate tax rate ... we would see more repatriation of those earnings," economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth told CNBC's "Street Signs."

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For its part, Apple is offering a 7-for-1 stock split to address calls to share its wealth.

Read More Apple shares open up 8% after earnings beat, stock split

Furchtgott-Roth, former chief of staff of President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, said the U.S. needs to move closer in line with its competitors and become more business-friendly in order to reel in the money. State and federal corporate tax rates are at 39 percent, compared with the 25 percent average for EOCD countries.

"It's a global race for capital out there," she warned.

Bernstein, however, doesn't think that's enough.

"Somehow I don't feel that is going to scratch the itch," he said. "Even if you were able to get more capital back here, it seems abundantly clear it's slow growth, lack of demand and just the absence of good domestic opportunities that makes the difference here. "

By CNBC's Michelle Fox