Las Vegas - After sitting through the Innovation Power
Panel Keynote at the Hilton Theater here you could be exhilarated or profoundly
Three of the nation's top CEOs gave their views on
America's education system, national tax policy and the country's role in the
global economy, during a panel moderated by Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)
president/CEO Gary Shapiro. The participants were Xerox CEO Ursula Burns; John
Chambers, Cisco CEO; and Jeffrey Immelt, GE CEO.
Let's get the bad news out of the way. All three lamented
the state of America's K-12 education system, with Ursula Burns giving it a
grade of D minus and Chambers saying it was broken, while Immelt felt the money
spent by corporations on K-12 education was not well spent. The trio urged a
fundamental rethinking of the American education system, noting countries
around the world are doing a far better job.
On a more positive note, all three felt the U.S. higher
education system was still the best, but Burns worried if state budget cuts
would hurt this standing. Chambers said his company hires many graduates of MIT
and Stanford, "but we can't rest on our laurels." Immelt noted America
graduates more sports therapists than engineers and "while a good massage is a
good thing," more engineers would be better, he said to laughs from the crammed
The group quickly segued to immigration policy since all
three CEOs want to attract the best and the brightest from around the world. John
Chambers said America's immigration policy should be a welcome gate rather than
the one now blocking entrepreneurs from a path to citizenship. All hoped
Congress could separate this aspect of immigration policy from the hot button issue
of protecting the borders.
All three saw U.S. tax policy as a major hindrance to
growth - especially for global corporations such as their own. Chambers said
U.S. firms are taxed twice if they want
to repatriate money earned overseas. "Why would I want to bring money back and
only get 70 cents on the dollar?" He noted that American corporations have more
than $1 trillion overseas and they'd love to bring it back to invest in their
U.S. businesses. Burns said could policy could make this another stimulus plan.
The global economy was discussed further and in a bit of
a surprise Germany was put at the top of the list of one of the countries to
watch rather than China. All were impressed with the country's laser focus on
who comes across as a natural cheerleader and motivator, said that although
America is at an inflection point, "we have all the cards to win ... The next
decade can be very bright."
Las Vegas - After sitting through the Innovation Power Panel Keynote at the Hilton Theater here you could be exhilarated or profoundly depressed.