Execs urge lawmakers to avoid fiscal cliff

Business executives urged President Barack Obama and U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday to prevent a year-end across-the-board tax rise that will go into effect unless Congress acts, saying it would hurt consumer spending and business.

Obama met with 12 business executives at the White House to discuss the so-called fiscal cliff - a combination of government spending cuts and tax rises due to go into effect in early 2013, - unless Congress acts.

The across-the-board spending cuts would reduce the budget deficit but could also tip the U.S. economy back into recession.

Obama told the business leaders he is serious about reaching a significant deal on reducing the budget deficit and also made his case for extending tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush for all but the highest earners, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

Our country needs a bipartisan solution for the 'fiscal cliff' that promotes jobs and economic growth now, and avoids damage to a still fragile economy, Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Company, said in a statement. We encouraged collaboration and compromise among our leaders.

Our customers are working hard to adapt to the 'new normal,' but their confidence is still very fragile, Walmart CEO Mike Duke said in a statement. They are shopping for Christmas now and they don't need uncertainty over a tax increase.

David Cote, chief executive and chairman of Honeywell, told reporters that Obama understood a combination of tax measures and reforms of social programs will be necessary to address the so-called fiscal cliff and beyond that, the deficit.

The president gets it, Cote said in an interview with cable TV network CNBC. It was very much of a back-and-forth discussion. He clearly listens ... He understands what needs to happen here.

Cote and others said Obama made a five-minute presentation and then went around the room seeking comments.

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