Former Verizon CEO: Uncertainty Preventing Hiring

Dan Strigl on president's jobs council, high business taxes



PRESIDENT OBAMA: ... was not as shovel ready as we expected.



NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: All right, so, what will get those shovels ready and moving again? The president receiving a number of recommendations from his new jobs council today.

Are they the right ideas? Former Verizon CEO Denny Strigl joining me right now.

Denny, you have your doubts. But it comes more to the core of what Dan was just saying, that the government, with the best of intentions, can’t do this?

DENNY STRIGL, FORMER PRESIDENT AND CEO, VERIZON WIRELESS: Here’s my concern. I -- to me, it’s very clear that one of the issues that we are facing that is really preventing businesses from hiring today is the uncertainties that we’re seeing in the economy, uncertainties caused by regulation, uncertainties caused by such things as Obamacare, taxation, and even fuel prices.

These are the things that really need to be addressed to get businesses to hire, to get businesses to invest more -- too many uncertainties today

CAVUTO: What if, in an uncertain economic climate that goes maybe even beyond this administration, to a global angst? Would you provide some subsidies, and credits and the like to compel businesses to expand or to hire, much as the president was boasting in North Carolina today? What do you make of that strategy?

STRIGL: I thought -- I think that’s exactly right.

What -- what business needs today is something like we saw years ago in the way of an investment tax credit. Today, the policy that we have in place in the 2010 Tax Act is something that allows businesses to accelerate depreciation. By the way, that’s good, but that doesn’t create long-term jobs.

CAVUTO: Now, your goal is just keep it simple. We had a couple of -- we asked you to bring a couple of recommendations. You were more than kind to bring more than that.

But one, you argue, is just streamlining the permitting process. And this is just on the issue of -- what the job council was saying, more to the point -- if you streamline it, then you’re making it simple for guys like you and your brethren.

STRIGL: Exactly. I think that the jobs council is right on the money.

Why do we see development and spending going overseas in places like China or India? It’s easier to get things done. It’s faster to get things done.

CAVUTO: But you don’t extend it to their second recommendation, which is just the -- pushing the loans on people, because, especially if it’s not a quid pro quo, right?

STRIGL: Well, I think the loans piece of this -- it -- by the way, it’s not well-defined. So, I’ll...


CAVUTO: In other words, we could get stuck and do what we were doing in the meltdown?

STRIGL: Well, exactly.

But what I understand from what I’ve seen today is that the recommendation is to give better access to and support to the Small Business Administration, so that businesses can get loans faster. Well, that’s not the way you create jobs, frankly. I mean, will that help? Yes, it very well could be.

CAVUTO: And for businesses that can’t get loans otherwise, isn’t that better than nothing?

STRIGL: Well, sure it is, Neil.


STRIGL: But -- but the way to get businesses to invest are -- I mean, this is Business 101 -- businesses will invest when they know consumers are buying.

Consumers today are saving at a rate of about 5.5 percent. With that kind of savings, that high-level of savings, people are uncertain about what’s going to hit them next in their pocketbook.

CAVUTO: Right. Right.

STRIGL: So, rather than spend, they’re saving.

CAVUTO: All right. You are not a fan of the government forcing edicts on people or requirements. And this whole green-building, energy- efficient push, while it could make for great business opportunities for green companies and the like, it saddles everyone else with the added costs and responsibilities of getting them green, right?

STRIGL: Neil, businesspeople in the United States, owners of buildings are smart enough to know a very simple concept: If they can get a return from the money that they spend, they will do that. So, if there was greening to be done, if there were energy savings to be had, my guess is that many of these business owners would’ve already done that.

Again, I come back to the point of a...


CAVUTO: But if they are cheap in a certain environment or leery of committing resources and capital -- and who can blame them in this environment -- they might not see the long-term benefit of that, much as they didn’t years ago about more energy-efficient, fuel-efficient vehicles. In the end, they profited handsomely off that direction, making makes and models that were barnstorm winners for them.

STRIGL: Neil, businesspeople here are smart enough to figure it out. And -- and they don’t need the government’s help to do that. That’s what free enterprise is all about. And, in my opinion, the government should get out of our way.


STRIGL: The government should streamline more than what we’re seeing today.

CAVUTO: Speaking of the government getting out of the way, there’s this big union hearing tomorrow, the NLRB, South Carolina, right-to-work state. Boeing wants to expand operations there, hire 1,000 workers. They had the ribbon-cutting ceremony last week that might be short-lived. Your concern if the NLRB manages to shut this puppy down?

STRIGL: Well, this is an issue where businesses -- since when, in the United States, have businesses not been able to decide when they hire, where they hire, and what they do with the people that they hire to create a profit?

This is an attempt by the union to get a focus off of right-to-work states, and make sure that companies like Boeing continue to develop where they are unionized.

CAVUTO: So, they’d even jettison those 1,000 jobs, non-unionized though they may be, for the sake of making sure they’re unionized somewhere else?


STRIGL: Oh, exactly. What -- what -- how does a union survive? On dues by union-paying members.


CAVUTO: But go back to your days over at Verizon. Wouldn’t you just say the heck with them; I’m going to go to Mexico or China?

STRIGL: Of course. Of course. And that’s what we are seeing in the U.S. today.

CAVUTO: Amazing.

Denny Strigl, the former Verizon CEO, expert on all things jobs, indeed.

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