Obama Asks Business Leaders For Help Selling Tax Increase

“I think there was a bit of an ask on that,” says the president and CEO of Marriott.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Marriott President and CEO Arne Sorenson arrives at the White House for a meeting with President Barack Obama and other business leaders November 28, 2012 in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama asked CEOs for help selling the need for a tax increase as part of a fiscal cliff agreement.

Arne Sorenson, the President and CEO of Marriott, told reporters after the meeting that Obama asked the business leaders for help selling that notion to Congress and the public.

“I think they would like the voice of business to be helpful in this and probably particularly be willing to say that we recognize revenue increases and tax increases are a part of that. I think there was a bit of an ask on that,” he told reporters outside the White House.

Sorenson added that his advice to Obama was to pursue a big deal that incorporates both new revenues and changes to entitlements.

“Do as much as you possibly can now, and don’t just talk about down-payments — small down-payments — that leave the uncertainty hanging out over 2013, because I think the uncertainty will be a threat to the economy as well,” he said.

Joe Echeverria, the CEO of Deloitte LLP, told reporters moments later that “the math doesn’t seem to work by limiting deductions,” saying some tax increases would be necessary.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein expressed a similar sentiment in television interviews after the meeting.

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