Wall Street Journal CEO Council Identifies Key Economic Issues for the Administration and Congress

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| Source: Dow Jones & Company

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Wall Street Journal's annual CEO Council meeting concluded today with the release of specific priorities on the key economic issues that the Administration and Congress must address in the coming days and months. The plans voted by CEO Council members as the top three priorities focused on balancing deficit reduction, pursuing revenue-neutral business tax reform, as well as comprehensive immigration reform. A majority of the members thought a deficit reduction package should include $1 in tax increases for every $4 in spending cuts.

The CEO Council worked together in task force sessions charged with identifying and ranking the most urgent priorities. Leading subject-matter experts provided key perspectives and information for the discussion, which focused on five key topics: Remaking Healthcare; Toward a New Consensus on Energy; An Agenda for Growth; Restoring Confidence in Finance; and Big Data: Opportunities and Risks.

The list of priorities, ranked in order, include:

BALANCED DEFICIT REDUCTION

Recognize that going off the fiscal cliff would create a period of financial and economic instability. Take advantage of the chance for a grand bargain so businesses and consumers can plan for the long-term. This agreement should be balanced between spending cuts and revenue increases.

BUSINESS TAX REFORM

Pursue revenue-neutral business tax reform to enhance US competitiveness including lower marginal tax rates, a broader base, and a territorial system.

IMMIGRATION REFORM

Pursue comprehensive immigration reform that addresses legal and illegal immigration, removes barriers to immigration of skilled workers and encourages foreign students to remain in the US.

COMPETITIVENESS

Foster a closer working relationship between business and government for the long-term competitiveness of the US economy, including bringing business-people into government and creating a better climate for entrepreneurship.

PROMOTE SHALE OIL & GAS

The administration should support oil and gas development to promote energy diversity: 1) supporting state regulation of drilling, 2) collaborating with industry to bolster public confidence, 3) facilitate leasing on public lands, and 4) facilitate construction of new midstream pipeline systems.

ROADMAP TO ENERGY SECURITY

Set a national road map for a balanced approach, including long-term measurable goals, through comprehensive energy legislation.

REGULATORY CLARITY

Simplify and clarify financial regulation. There are too many regulators and too much ambiguity on regulation itself. Make sure regulatory regime reduces rather than accentuates volatility -- avoiding pro-cyclicality and creating the right incentives for financial services firms.

STREAMLINE REGULATION

Speed up permitting and regulation to spur energy production. Address regulatory overlap between state and federal governments. Ensure consistency between regulatory entities and the needed comprehensive energy strategy.

POPULATION HEALTH MANAGEMENT

Explicitly gear system around population health. Create public-private partnerships to encourage healthy behavior. Identify specialty populations with unique needs such as seriously mentally ill. Reshape financial incentives: here's your total budget, care for everyone, and keep the remainder. Build capacity and reimbursement systems to support population health. The administration needs to clarify how to deal with huge shift into insurance exchanges.

FINANCE IS VITAL FOR A HEALTHY ECONOMY

The finance industry should hold itself to higher standards. Business models should be rethought to ensure they serve the long-term interests of investors and consumers. Products should be simpler, corporate governance improved and compensation structures more aligned with long-term performance.

RESTORE INVESTOR CONFIDENCE

Individual investors have been withdrawing from U.S. equity markets. Make the market more of a level playing field for investors. Both financial leaders and regulators should have a plan for restoring investor confidence through, for example, improved market structure.

ENCOURAGE DIVERSITY

The Administration should continue to maintain a focus on all energy sources to ensure diversity. Promote research and support development across the energy spectrum, including tax incentives and regulatory clarity.

ENACT CYBER SECURITY STANDARDS

The private sector, government, the military and consumers should jointly develop detailed standards and incidence reporting practices for cyber security, leveraging existing industry best practices.

PRIMARY CARE

Provide incentives to correct the imbalance of specialists to primary care doctors by increasing funding for undergraduate and graduate medical education for primary care; by changing reimbursement rates; and by forgiving medical school loans. Focus on advanced nurses, nurse practitioners.

TRANSPARENT STANDARDS

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services should develop, and require adoption by all public health programs, uniform standards for health care service quality, performance and price transparency so consumers can make value choices in health care. Encourage states to follow suit.

NEW DELIVERY MODELS

Use full continuum of care givers. Harmonize licensing of health professionals nationwide by creating uniform standards for scope of practice across the country. Encourage more care in retail clinics, pharmacies and other sites. Make higher use of allied health professionals, nurses, pharmacies, other community sites and health technology. Make it easier to license professionals across states. Require patients' medical data to be available electronically.

BIG DATA IS OPPORTUNITY

Industry recognizes that the advent of Big Data is a potential engine of significant economic growth. Policy must address but not restrict this opportunity. Consumers, government and companies all have a role to play in defining policy. Countries need to recognize that the treatment of data is ultimately an issue of national competitiveness.

CREATE RULES OF THE ROAD

The government should define which activities concerning data are legal or illegal. For activities that are legal, it is then up to the consumer to define what is public or private (through opt-in, opt-out).

CREATE GLOBAL DATA TREATY

The U.S. should play a leadership role in coordinating with international bodies to pass a treaty to establish clear, universal standards on data privacy and ownership.

The CEO Council program included on-stage interviews with Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Senator Rob Portman (R., Oh.), and Rep. Christopher Van Hollen, Jr. (D., Md.), among other senior policymakers, business leaders and Administration officials.

The results of the CEO Council meeting will be published in a Journal Report to be published on Nov. 19 available in the U.S., Europe and Asia print editions of The Wall Street Journal and on WSJ.com. For more information, please visit: http://ceocouncil.wsj.com/

The Wall Street Journal logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=2641

Media Contact:
Sara Blask
Dow Jones & Company
212-416-2312