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AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson with President Trump at the White House. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

Randall Stephenson, the chairman and CEO of AT&T, told attendees at a Business Roundtable discussion on tax reform that it would be a "bad indictment" of the Republican Party if they couldn't pass significant reform while controlling both Congress and the White House.

The key message: The heads of five massive American companies — Boeing, Lockheed Martin, UPS, AT&T, and EY — all took part in the discussion, stressing that U.S. companies could not remain competitive globally without lowering the corporate tax rate to the 20-25% range.

More quotes from the discussion:

  • Huge growth with reform: Stephenson also laid out what he views as the benefits of a lower corporate tax rate, saying, "It's inconceivable to me that [GDP growth] could be anything less than 3%…We can't find anything below 3% if you get to a 20-25% tax rate."
  • What to tell Trump: Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing, would tell POTUS: "Keep this at the top of the priority list…The one enabler for the American economy — the one catalyst that can really unleash economic growth — is tax reform."
  • The consequences of the current system: Mark Weinberger, global chairman and CEO of EY, laid out the problems faced by corporate leaders under the current tax system: "If we had a 20% tax rate, there would have been 5,000 businesses that stayed onshore that moved offshore…No CEO wakes up in the morning and says I'm gonna move all of my employees overseas. That's a last ditch effort."
  • The bigger picture: Marillyn Hewson, the chairman, president, and CEO of Lockheed Martin, also views tax reform as rippling out to other key U.S. issues, saying, "If we are facing competition around the world that doesn't allow businesses to invest in [Lockheed Martin's] technology, that's going to hurt our national security, so I think tax reform is a national security issue as well."
  • What else can be done: David Abney, the chairman and CEO of UPS, thinks that there's no other option but to press ahead with some sort of tax reform: "There are a lot of alternatives out there, but probably the worst one is status quo."

Go deeper

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The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

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The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.