Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s CEO, was the speaker at the World Affairs Council luncheon today at the Fairmont, and his message was pretty clear: In business, less is more.
How can American companies be more attractive for international capital investment? He thinks our country needs to lower corporate taxes. Stephenson maintains that the average corporate tax rate among OECD member countries is about 26 percent; the U.S. comes in second (behind Japan) at 39 percent. He also said the U.S. Treasury estimated that countries with 1 percentage point lower taxes than its competitors can attract 3 percent more capital. “Thirty-nine percent versus 26 percent? You can do the math,” Stephenson said. “This is not a partisan issue.”
But Stephenson alluded to one very contentious issue (Net Neutrality) when he gave his second bit of advice: Say no to government regulation. “Internet and wireless services have had a very light touch from regulators; the results have been nothing short of amazing,” he said. “What are you trying to fix with regulation? What exactly is broken?”
Other tidbits: Stephenson said AT&T will spend between $18 billion and $19 billion this year–the majority of it will go to building out the mobile broadband network.
AT&T is not moving its mobility department to Dallas from Atlanta. “I got this quote from a guy at Dallas Country Club: ‘It’s just about money,’ ” Stephenson quipped. “And Dallas doesn’t have enough money.” Perhaps he felt bad about the joke, because he closed with comments about how happy he was that AT&T relocated to Dallas, and said we shouldn’t worry about recruiting corporate relocations since “Texas is the environment that you want to operate in in corporate America. Keep doing what you’re doing.”