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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

29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.

The China whisperer

Nick Burns. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee for ambassador to China will face aggressive questioning Wednesday about the most important, and potentially perilous, bilateral relationship in the world.

Why it matters: While Nick Burns is an experienced diplomat with support on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers want to use his confirmation hearing to force the administration into some tough positions on China.

Jan. 6 committee recommends contempt charges against Bannon

Steve Bannon. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night recommending that former Trump aide Steve Bannon be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena.

Why it matters: The resolution sets up a House vote to refer Bannon for potential criminal prosecution, signaling that the committee will not tolerate attempts by former President Trump and his associates to stymie the investigation.