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Posted at 10:40 AM ET, 11/17/2010

Austan Goolsbee to business: We're on your side

By Jia Lynn Yang


(Photo Credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee delivered a message straight to some of the country's most powerful chief executives Tuesday: the White House is not anti-business.

"We are actively interested in the ideas of business," he said at an event for executives hosted by The Wall Street Journal. "It's not at all the case it's a false dialogue and we're only listening."

Goolsbee also declared the White House is open to reforming the corporate tax code, in response to a question from Fred Smith, the chief executive of FedEx, who said the nation's code was making American businesses less competitive abroad.

Goolsbee acknowledged the current system is "the worst kind" because it taxes a relatively small group at a high rate. A better system, he said, would charge a lower rate to a broader base -- and it'd be simpler.

He also said he often hears people grumble that the White House is "out to get business." But he denied the charge, saying that the number of regulations issued under the Obama administration was in fact slightly less than the number handed out under the Bush White House at the same juncture.

Goolsbee also commented on corporate America's roughly $1 trillion in cash holdings.

"If they don't use the money, I think corporate raiders are coming back," he predicted, saying there could be a "massive wave" of mergers and acquisitions around the corner.

"There is a big accumulation of cash sitting there," Goolsbee said. "If we get demand up, there is a path to dramatically increased business investment."

By Jia Lynn Yang  | November 17, 2010; 10:40 AM ET
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