For a split second after the presidential election the victor and the vanquished struck a conciliatory tone on finding the balance between raising taxes and cutting spending. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. president and CEO Mike Duke wants the issue resolved as soon as possible.
Duke was among a group of business leaders in Washington earlier this week meeting with President Barack Obama and following the meeting Walmart released a statement expressing his views on the issue.
"Before the end of the year, Washington needs to find an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff," Duke said. "We are pleased that the President and the Congressional leadership are coming together to solve this critical issue."
They haven’t solved anything yet and the fact that rhetoric quickly returned to pre-election levels wouldn’t seem to indicate that any sort of deal is imminent. That’s too bad because relentless discussion of a topic as ominous sounding as the fiscal cliff is unsettling to people as they evaluate how much or how little to spend during the holidays.
Duke said Walmart's customers are at the center of this debate because they are middle class Americans and those aspiring to join the middle class. Walmart customers are working hard to adapt to the 'new normal,' but their confidence is still very fragile and as they shop for Christmas don't need uncertainty over a tax increase, according to Duke.
"The need for certainty is also true for business. Many of us are headed into our new fiscal years and are making decisions on investments that will drive growth," Duke said. "Walmart Moms tell us their confidence in the economy is shaped by whether they believe Washington is working for them. If the White House and Congress can reach agreement, it will show them the nation's leaders can address big issues, and it will help raise their confidence in their government and their future."
Duke joined the growing chorus of business leaders who are pressing for a resolution to the so-called fiscal cliff by balancing a range of solutions.
"We encourage the White House and Congress to work together on an approach that includes additional revenue, comprehensive tax reform, and spending cuts, including entitlement reforms, to get our fiscal house in order while creating economic growth," Duke said.