WASHINGTON, Oct 5 (Captains of Google, Bank of
America and Citicorp say they are ready to pay higher taxes, as
long as Congress uses the money to get the U.S. economy back on
Democrats on Wednesday proposed a 5 percent surcharge on
millionaires to finance President Barack Obama's $447 billion
jobs stimulus package, which is designed to save and create
jobs, and boost an economy on the edge of recession.
Industry executives speaking at the Washington Ideas Forum
said they are willing to foot the bill.
"We need to get jobs going in this country and anything to
do that would make some sense," said Brian Moynihan, chief
executive of Bank of America (BAC.N), who earned $10.9 million
including restricted stock options in 2010.
He said that Bank of America's wealth management clients he
talks to say they also would be supportive, depending on how
the money would be used.
"If they believe it puts our fiscal house in order, they
say 'That's great.'" But they also want to see spending levels
brought down as part of the equation, he said.
Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google Inc (GOOG.O),
said higher taxes would not prevent him from investing or
spending. Opponents say higher taxes would hurt growth.
"In my case, it is not a particularly big issue because it
would not change my behavior," said Schmidt, who earned $10.3
million, including stock options in 2010.
"What matters most is how to improve the growth prospects
of the economy," he said. "The real problems are when you are
Robert Rubin, a senior executive at Citicorp (C.N) who was
a managing director of Goldman Sachs before serving as Treasury
Secretary for President Bill Clinton, also favored higher taxes
twinned with spending restraints.
"I would aboslutely go back to top rate of 39.6 percent,"
When Clinton, a Democrat, raised the tax rate on the
wealthiest in the early 1990s, opponents made the same warnings
that they make today that it would stifle job creation,
investment, innovation and growth. In fact, the United States
enjoyed its longest economic expansion and produced a budget
surplus, Rubin said.
Tax breaks also need to be addressed, which would fall on
the more affluent, he said.
Obama is pressing higher taxes for the rich as a way to
bring the deficit in line. He gained support from billionaire
investor Warren Buffett who wrote a column last month that rich
people like him can afford to pay more.
(Reporting by Stella Dawson; Editing by Gary Hill)