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Bill George

Harvard Business School Professor, former Medtronic CEO

WSJ CEO Council 2010 Annual Meeting

Earlier this week I had the privilege of participating in the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.  Over the course of two days 100 leaders in the areas of business, finance, and policy came together to discuss and propose solutions to some of the world’s largest policy challenges: health care, energy, the environment, jobs, and global finance. 

Two things I wanted to share.  First is an article written by Joann Lublinn, and second is my appearance on CNBC discussing my experience from the meeting.

WSJ: Medtronic Ex-CEO Suggests Steps to Boost Business

Originally Posted in the Wall Street Journal By Joann S. Lublin

William W. George, a former chief executive of Medtronic Inc., suggested steps to stimulate business investment in the U.S., including 100% depreciation on capital equipment through 2012 and a reduction in the 35% repatriation tax rate to 20% for businesses that “invest in tangible assets.”

A lower repatriation tax rate “would have a direct [positive] tradeoff,” Mr. George said in an interview Tuesday morning at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council. He now is a management practice professor at Harvard’s business school. He also sits on the boards of Exxon Mobil Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Mr. George advocates a tax holiday on tangible capital assets for any company that holds assets for a decade — and eventually, a graduated capital-gains tax. And he favors making it easier for foreign graduates of U.S. universities to obtain visas so they can work in the U.S. and possibly start companies here. At the moment, he added, “we are not graduating that many Americans with technical degrees.”

Taken together, such actions will stimulate U.S. job creation and long-term investment at a time when foreign competition is intensifying, according to Mr. George. Other countries see their economies rebounding faster than the U.S., he noted. “Why can’t we get this country moving [again]?”

But split control of Congress could impede passage of certain economic revival steps, Mr. George said. “We’ve had [political] gridlock for two years,” he observed. “We could have gridlock for six years.”