Obama to meet with CEOs about jobs

Are business leaders in mood to talk?


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 6, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Well, it’s all about jobs. Voters keep saying it in exit polls. The president hearing it loud and clear; he’s spending Super Tuesday night with some business leaders, lots of them, in fact -- just not this business leader, T.J. Rodgers, the CEO of Cypress Semiconductor.

I had a felling, T.J., that if you were there, it might be such a genteel discussion.

But what would you tell him if you were there?

T.J. RODGERS, CEO, CYPRESS SEMICONDUCTOR: Well, if you want more jobs in the U.S., simply make the United States a more hospitable place to employ people, and companies will follow suit by doing what’s best for their shareholders and hiring employees here. It’s very simple, really.

CAVUTO: So, when you say more hospitable, what does he have to do?

RODGERS: Well, we have the third highest corporate tax rate in the world.

And you can go virtually any place in the world and put up a plant and get a lower tax rate. And at the very the same time, American companies suffer a high tax rate. And we keep listening to the rhetoric about how we are under taxed and not paying our fair share and blah, blah, blah.

And it’s just counterproductive. Meanwhile, I have to run the company, and every six months to a year, I have to make a decision to put a plant here or shut down something there. And I always make that decision, as I’m bound to do, in the best interests of our shareholders.

CAVUTO: Now, the president will argue that when guys like you hire abroad or open plants abroad, at the expense of American jobs here, you’re not doing anyone any good. What do you say?

RODGERS: Well, you can make a lot of, how do you say it, arguments that are not right.

We have about 3,500 employees. And about half of them are in the U.S. And I can tell you for a fact that if we didn’t have our offshore employees, who, yes, partly are hired because they are more economical, if we didn’t have our offshore employees, our 1,700 Americans wouldn’t have a job.

Companies are international now. And they have a mixture of people and you cannot just bring stuff back and forth because you are competing against other companies. And if you’re not competitive relative to them, including the Korean ones and the Japanese ones and the Chinese ones, you’ll go out of business and there won’t be any jobs.

CAVUTO: We just got news today, speaking of which, T.J., that China might be slowing down. We would dream of GDP like what they’re talking about now.

But nevertheless it is coming off its highs. I think earlier talk of 8 percent or 9 percent growth, more like high sixes, 7 percent growth, still enviable, but not what it was.

What do you think happens if China really slows down markedly? Then what?

RODGERS: Well, first of all, I think they have a high growth rate because they have the greatest customer in the world, and that’s us, and we buy their stuff. And it’s a good deal for us because the stuff they make for us is very economically priced and all Americans are better off for having had it.

They don’t want us to slow down for sure; viewing them as the enemy that is wrong. They make stuff for us. What happens if they slow down? Well, the tide raises all boats. And the fact is when the United States sneezes, the whole world gets a cold. China’s now the second aggregate economy in the world. And if they start having problems, it will hurt us.

So, we want all the economies in all the countries in the world to do well, including Greece.

CAVUTO: All right, T.J., it’s always a pleasure. Thank you very much.

The CEO of Cypress Semiconductor in San Jose, T.J. Rodgers, one of the few who just calls it as he sees it.

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