Bill Clinton supports lower corporate tax rate, says reasoning for TPP clear

Bill Clinton talks trade and taxes
Bill Clinton talks trade and taxes

Former President Bill Clinton voiced support for a lower corporate tax rate and said the geopolitical reasoning behind the Trans-Pacific Partnership is clear.

Clinton said he supported a higher corporate tax rate in the past. Wife Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has not released a plan that addresses the current 35 percent rate. She has also said she would put her husband in charge of reinvigorating the economy.

"I was the president who urged it to be raised to 35 percent, but when I did it, it was precisely in the middle of OECD countries. It isn't anymore," Clinton told CNBC on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative.

"I think it should be lowered. This is just me now. I'm not speaking for," he added, trailing off without saying for whom he was not speaking.

Clinton said the United States should try to get the corporate tax rate as close to the international average as possible to make it more competitive, but it should also maintain an alternative minimum tax to ensure all businesses pay an acceptable amount.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says he would drop the corporate tax rate to 15 percent.

Former President Bill Clinton sits down with CNBC's Becky Quick the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York on Sept. 20, 2016.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Clinton also said he supports a repatriation initiative that would ensure companies invest a portion of money they bring back home at lower tax rates into investments in a national infrastructure program. He noted that George W. Bush's 2004 repatriation bill resulted in company's buying back stocks rather than investing in the economy.

Clinton also addressed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal the Obama administration has hammered out with 11 other Pacific Rim nations, and which Hillary Clinton supported as secretary of state but has opposed in the current campaign cycle.

"The geopolitical reasons for it, from America's point of view, are pretty clear. It's designed to make sure that the future of the Asia-Pacific region, economically, is not totally dominated by China," the former president said.

However, he stopped short of supporting the TPP. He added that his wife has said provisions on currency manipulation must be enforced and measures put in place in the United States to address any labor market dislocations that result from trade deals.