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CEOs Sound Off: Budget Deficit, Bailouts & More

As U.S. automakers sell their rescue plan to Congress on Thursday and the markets digest more grim jobs data, CNBC asked American CEOs their perspective on the economy, budget and bailouts.

Bailing Out America

"The U.S. government's business model is also unsustainable... And there's nobody there to bailout America. So in addition to trying to take some steps to bail out the economy around and deal with the current challenges, we've got to put a process in place, such that once the economy turns the corner, we can start making some tough choices on budget controls, entitlement reform, spending constraint, tax reform...It's absolutely essential and it ought to be coupled with the stimulus program."

-David Walker, Peter G. Peterson Foundation CEO and Former U.S. Comptroller president

Who Will Bailout the Deficit?

"We're in much worse shape today than we were even a year ago. We've got a situation where deficits are ballooning. We've got people lining up at the door for government bailouts. The government doesn't have any money. We're having to basically give people money and go borrow from China and, you know, Japan and OPEC nations... There's no question that deficits and debt levels are going to go up in the short-term."

-David Walker, Peter G. Peterson Foundation CEO and Former U.S. Comptroller President

Old Costs, New Way of Handling

"We've been able to offset a lot of that [competitive disadvantage to non-union shops] through better productivity and good technology. I think the economy has really kind of brought that differential to the forefront and made it almost impossible to carry at this point. The longer-term solution, here, though is to deal with these orphans in a more effective way."

-Bill Zollars, YRC WorldWide CEO

Staying Optimistic Despite Falling Demand

"We are confident that the future of the copper business will be good... Economies in the developing world are going to recover at some point... Copper is very difficult to find and produce in today's world and those fundamentals stay there... For the markets to recover we have to have financial markets that work. Companies have to have financing available to them so that they are comfortable making investment decisions and consuming."

-Richard Adkerson, Freeport-McMoran President & CEO

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