Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ex-Ceos Want Higher Taxes

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ex-Ceos Want Higher Taxes

Article excerpt

If you get Jack Welch, Lou Gerstner and Bob Wright -- three of the United States' most highly respected former executives -- together in a room with David Gregory, the host of NBC's "Meet the Press," and there are no television cameras around, there are bound to be some fireworks.

On a recent steamy evening in a high school gymnasium on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts, the men did not disappoint.

When Mr. Gregory asked about the continuing anger in the country directed toward Wall Street for the financial crisis and what responsibility bankers, traders and executives have for the ongoing economic turmoil, the discussion turned especially serious.

Mr. Gregory reminded the men of his previous interview with Jamie Dimon, the chairman and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase, in the middle of the bank's "London Whale" trading crisis, which has cost the firm almost $6 billion and counting. Mr. Gregory asked Mr. Dimon on May 13 if it was "misplaced criticism" to blame Wall Street for bringing the economy down without anyone on Wall Street having gone to jail as a result.

Mr. Dimon said the criticism was fair, and that the public had a sense that "there's been no Old Testament justice here, that no one was punished," he said. But he argued that blaming "everybody" was also wrong: "If you think someone did something wrong, go get those people that did something wrong and blame them. In the meantime, the rest of us should hold hands, get together -- collaborate -- business and government together to fix the problems. It's going to be very hard for government to do it on its own, and business can't do it without collaborating with the government."

Mr. Gregory asked the same question of the Aug. 13 panel on Nantucket. Mr. Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric, answered first. "Do you think the guy leading the country could have a more balanced approach to the recklessness of some hothead businessman, rather than demonize him? …

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