U.S. executives largely panned the congressional deal to steer America away from the "fiscal cliff," saying Washington wasted an opportunity to address the nation's long-term debt, but said they would continue to agitate for a better budget plan.
While CEOs expressed relief that $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts will not kick the fragile economy in the gut, their gratitude was salted with insults.
"I think this deal's a disaster," said Peter Huntsman, chief executive of chemical producer Huntsman Corp.
"We're just living in a fantasy land. We're borrowing more and more money. This did absolutely nothing to address the fundamental issue of the debt cliff."
Former Wells Fargo CEO Dick Kovacevich said the agreement confirms that Washington and both parties are totally out of control.
"I think it's a joke," Kovacevich said of the deal. "It's stunning to me that after working on this for months and supposedly really getting to work in the last 30 days that this is what you come up with."
Kovacevich and others said business leaders need to consider a different approach, one that either bypasses lawmakers or lays out a much more specific plan for deficit reduction.
(Read More: Fiscal Cliff Deal Key Points)
Corporate America had mounted a media blitz in the last two months, calling on Congress to both avert the potentially devastating fiscal cliff and replace it with a reasonable long-term plan to get the federal deficit under control.
Dozens of CEOs joined a loose coalition known as the "Fix the Debt" campaign, travelled to Washington to talk directly with lawmakers, visited the White House, and made regular rounds on TV news programs.
The executives scaled back their public posturing during the furious last-minute negotiations, which coincided with their holiday vacations, but some executives kept the phone lines to Washington open.