BNSF CEO says short-term budget deal likely to avoid fiscal cliff

Posted Thursday, Dec. 06, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- Leaders in Congress are likely to reach a short-term budget deal with the Obama administration to keep the country from going over the "fiscal cliff," the chief executive of Fort Worth-based BNSF Railway said today.

Matt Rose was among about 100 top corporate executives to attend a Business Roundtable meeting on Wednesday in Washington where President Obama discussed the looming federal budget crisis.

In an interview with the Star-Telegram, Rose said that if Republicans and Democrats cannot reach agreement on a combination of tax and spending changes to avert sequestration -- a combination of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 1 -- the result would "truly be a debacle," worse than the fallout in 2011 after the two sides failed to reach a broad-based deal on the debt ceiling and the U.S. credit rating was downgraded.

"There will be tremendous emotional and structural changes with the cost of borrowing, debt, equity prices on the stock market," Rose said. "So the business community is trying to encourage both sides to say, 'We need to get this deal behind us.'"

This time around, the work of the Simpson-Bowles Commission and other studies have laid the groundwork for an agreement, despite contrasting positions coming from both sides, Rose said.

"Without a doubt, there is a deal to be done," Rose said. "Once the two parties finally decide that we need to have a deal for this country, then it can go relatively quickly."

Rose called the fiscal cliff issue "short-term politics" and said the bigger issues involve tax reform and other measures to boost economic growth.

"At the end of the day, they'll come up with a short-term deal," Rose said, "and it will be a strong commitment that they will have to frame this thing out in 2013 for the good of the country."

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