President Obama pressed for business tax reform in a speech before a group of business executives.

“If you’re a CEO that’s willing to bring jobs back to America, we want to do everything we can to help you succeed,” he said in a speech before the Business Roundtable on Tuesday evening. “That means working together to reform our tax system so that we are rewarding companies that are investing here in the United States, making sure that we are able to cut our tax rate here but also broaden the base.  That is going to be a difficult task. Anybody who has been involved in tax discussions in any legislature, but especially Congress, knows that it’s like pulling teeth.  But it is the right thing to do for us to become more competitive.”

The Obama administration unveiled a set of business tax reform proposals last month that included lowering the top corporate tax rate from 35 to 28 percent (see Obama Proposes Business Tax Reforms). At the same time, the administration called for closing a series of tax loopholes, particularly ones that allow multinational corporations to shift profits to low-tax countries.

“We're also going to have to deal with revenue,” he said. “And that’s something that the American people instinctually understand—that if we do this in a balanced way, we can solve our problems. This is not a situation that is analogous to Greece. We don’t have to cut by 25 percent and raise taxes by 25 percent. That’s not the situation we find ourselves in. These are relatively modest adjustments that can stabilize our economy, give you the kind of business confidence you need to invest, and make sure that America wins for the future.”

Members of the Business Roundtable include top executives from some of the largest corporations in the U.S. They gathered in Washington to discuss a report the group released Tuesday, “Taking Action for America: A CEO Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth.”

During the meeting, Obama also highlighted many of the gains the economy has made in the past two years since he last met with them, including the addition of more than 3.7 million new jobs in the private sector and the resurgence of the American auto industry.

Obama also discussed the need to do more than restore the economy to pre-crisis levels, including lowering high energy prices.

“We’re also going to have to make significant investments in American energy,” he said. “I am very proud of the fact that American energy output is reaching record levels. We are seeing the highest oil production in the last eight years. At the same time, because so many of your companies have become more efficient, we’re actually seeing a reduction in imports—in fact, below 50 percent for the first time back in 2010, the first time in a decade. But we’ve got more work to do, and it’s going to require an all-of-the-above strategy. Obviously, folks are getting killed right now with gas prices. And that has an impact on all of your companies, because consumers are more price sensitive when it comes to filling up their gas tank than just about anything else. That means, yes, we’ve got to produce more oil and more natural gas, and we are game for that. It also means, though, we’ve got to invest in the energy sources of the future.”

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