Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said Wednesday that CEOs are worried about the fiscal cliff.
The automatic tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts that could take effect next year throw "cold water on long term planning," said W. James McNerney, CEO of Boeing (Fortune 500) and Business Roundtable board chairman. ,
CEO economic expectations are at their lowest level since the third quarter of 2009, according to a survey conducted by the Business Roundtable, a lobbying group of CEOs of top companies such as Honeywell International (Fortune 500), , Dow Chemical (Fortune 500), , Xerox (Fortune 500) and , General Electric (Fortune 500). ,
Only 29% of CEOs said they expect to hire more employees in the next six months, down from 36% in the last quarter. Company leaders are also cutting back on capital spending plans: just 30% expected to increase spending, compared to 43% last quarter.
Congress has until the midnight of Dec. 31 to act to prevent a series of tax cuts from expiring and to stop funding cuts to hundreds of federal programs.
If Congress does nothing, the U.S. will go over the fiscal cliff, triggering $7 trillion worth of tax increases and spending cuts. That will take more than $500 billion out of the economy in 2013 alone.
CEOs don't want Congress to delay the cuts by a few months either, which would only prolong economic "purgatory," said McNerney.
The nation's top business leaders are so concerned that they plan to launch a media campaign after the Nov. 6 presidential elections. The campaign will push Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff and implement a plan that gives companies more certainty, said the lobbying group's president, John Engler.
The group is urging Congress to use the Bowles-Simpson plan as a guide.
Erskine Bowles was White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, while Alan Simpson is a former Republican senator. They co-chaired President Obama's debt reduction commission in 2010 and submitted a bipartisan report, which was widely praised but ignored by the Obama Administration.
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