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Business Owners Urge Washington to Act on Debt Limit


CEOs from corporate giants ranging from ADP and Caterpillar to Coca-Cola and Bank of America sent a letter to President Obama and Congress this weekend demanding they take action on raising the debt ceiling and addressing the country's "fiscal soundness".

"From our experience and with conviction we can tell you: inaction poses an unacceptable financial risk to the nation’s economic growth and job creation," the CEOs stated. They are all members of the Business Roundtable, an organization of the nation's top CEOs. The letter emphasizes the risk that a government default on U.S. obligations poses to investment, job creation and global competitiveness.

"There is no more time for delay," the letter continued. "Inaction has unacceptable consequences. We urge you in the strongest possible terms to enact legislation now that lifts the debt ceiling with a serious plan that puts America on a true path to a sound fiscal future."

The National Retail Federation (NRF), the country's leading organization representing retailers, also urged politicians to act.

The NRF and its CEO Matthew Shay issued the following statement urged the President and Congress to work together.

"America's economy needs certainty in order to spur growth and create jobs and opportunity. This is the time for leadership in Washington, and the White House and Congress must act immediately to raise the debt ceiling to ensure our country’s fiscal and economic well-being. A failure to compromise on this critical question would be fiscally irresponsible and would seriously impair our economy for future generations," the organization's statement read.

Small business organizations have been less outspoken on the issue, although the Small Business Entrepreneurship Council featured a column on its website written by its chief economist, Raymond J. Keating.

"In order to tackle the unprecedented increase in federal debt we've experienced over the past four years - total federal debt held by the public is expected to increase by 116 percent from 2007 to 2011 - spending obviously needs to be reduced substantially," Keating said. "As for revenues, it's not about anti-growth tax increases. Instead, it's about growing the economy again, so government revenues increase with that growth. That means tax rates need to actually be reduced, certainly not increased."

The National Small Business Association called for a two-pronged approach to solving the problem.

"The U.S. is facing a massive credit and global competitiveness problem unless the U.S. deficit is reigned-in. NSBA is calling on policymakers to embrace a two-pronged approach to addressing the deficit: tax reform and entitlement reform," said the organization, which says it represents 150,000 small businesses.

"Broadening the tax base by lowering all individual and corporate tax rates and eliminating certain deductions will spur economic growth and lead to increased tax revenues."

Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.