AT&T Chief: If Republicans Don't Pass Tax Reform, ‘it May Be Political Survival for Them'

WASHINGTON -- AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said on Wednesday that if lawmakers can't achieve a major overhaul of the tax code that features lower corporate rates, "it may be political survival for them."The boss of the Dallas-based telecom giant offered that prod at a Business Roundtable panel discussion featuring several high-profile chief executives.And Stephenson, who's been active in pushing a tax revamp, applied the most direct challenge to the GOP, which controls the White House and both chambers of Congress. He said a failure to overhaul the tax system would "literally be a bad indictment" of the party's effectiveness."If you're a Republican, you better have it done before the primary season," he said. "Seriously."The heavyweight scold highlights the stakes of the tax debate as GOP leaders prepare to offer a more detailed proposal as early as next week.Earlier Republican tax proposals have offered corporations a favorable outlook. Business leaders have continued to stress the need for a lower corporate rate and a move to a territorial system would domestically tax U.S. companies only on their profits produced in the U.S.And Stephenson and the leaders of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, EY and UPS on Wednesday all made the case that the time was ripe for Congress to act.But for all that cheerleading, the specter of Washington gridlock nonetheless loomed over the gathering of top corporate minds. Asked if any of the companies had budgeted with a successful tax revamp in mind, Stephenson didn't hesitate."We wouldn't dream of it," he said.Then David Abney of UPS jumped in."It's been 30-something years," he said. "Even though we are pushing real hard and we want to make sure it gets done, it's just too much uncertainty."And then, finally, Marilynn Hewson of Lockheed Martin offered more of a positive outlook."But we're optimistic," said Hewson, whose company makes the F-35 in Fort Worth.  Continue reading...

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