SOURCE: Chief Executive Magazine

April 21, 2008 09:00 ET

Chief Executives Tell What's on Their Mind

This Election Year; Iraq War Takes Top Place, Energy Policy Jumps Ranks and Healthcare Drops Down

MONTVALE, NJ--(Marketwire - April 21, 2008) - As the nation nears the critical Philadelphia primary, following a stormy month in the financial markets, Chief Executive magazine's survey among 321 top executives reveals that the single most important issue for the nation's chief executives this election year is the "War on Terror and homeland security."

This paints an interesting contrast with the findings of the 2004 election year survey, in which chief executives collectively voted healthcare (now ranked # 6) as the single most important issue.

The issues that follow the Iraq War and homeland security are, "energy policy and cost reduction" and "corporate tax policy," which almost ties with energy policy. In a rather remarkable move, energy policy and cost reduction leaped three spots this election year, as rising oil prices and the nation's dependency on foreign oil has proven to damage consumer confidence and the overall economy. Tax policy maintained its third spot in the rankings.

"The opinion of CEOs is of utmost importance when creating a sound economic policy," said Edward M. Kopko, CEO and Publisher of Chief Executive Magazine. "Their ability to provide jobs and grow their businesses is paramount to the success of America's economy, and presidential candidates are well-advised to consider their policy priorities."

According to the CEOs surveyed, a potential success in Iraq goes hand-in-hand with success in energy policy and cost reduction, as Michael A. Zeher, CEO of Zeher Global Associates, explains, "The most timely and effective way to keep the price of oil restrained within the current $100 per barrel range is to score big wins on 'The War on Terror' while strengthening all aspects of our homeland security."

With regard to the remedies for a faltering economy, CEOs believe that "tax policy for corporations and business incentives," are key: "The fastest and the best method of ensuring health and growth in the economy is a reduction in taxes, both corporate (first) and individual (second)," as one CEO wishing to remain anonymous reckons.

Heavy corporate taxes are cited as one of the main reasons why many corporations prefer to do business elsewhere, and CEOs fear a potential win by the Democratic Party in the election will only worsen the situation. "Raising corporate tax rates will chase corporations overseas to low tax havens such as Ireland and will have a very negative impact on the economy," says Daniel Dykens, CEO of Norbury Financial Systems.

The U.S. has one of the highest corporate tax rates among all OECD countries -- almost 40 percent. Ireland, which has the lowest corporate rate -- 12.5 percent -- collects 3.6 percent of GDP from corporate revenues. By contrast, the U.S. collects 2.5 percent.

The CEO Index polling was conducted among 321 executives between March 11th and March 26th. For additional information regarding the confidence of public- and private-company CEOs, details about CEO attitudes on employment, investment and business conditions, visit our full report at http://www.chiefexecutive.net/ceoindex.

ABOUT CHIEF EXECUTIVE MAGAZINE

Chief Executive is a controlled circulation magazine that has been published since 1977. It reaches 42,000 chief executive officers and their peers, reaches a total readership of 228,000. Chief Executive Group facilitates "Chief Executive of the Year," a prestigious honor bestowed upon an outstanding corporate leader, nominated and selected by a group of his or her peers. Robert Ulrich, A. G. Lafley, George David, Fred Smith, Bill Gates, John Chambers, Michael Dell and Sandy Weill are just some of the leaders who have been honored during the award's 22-year history. Chief Executive also organizes roundtable meetings and conferences to foster opportunities for top corporate officers to discuss key subjects and share their experiences within a community of peers. Visit www.chiefexecutive.net for more information.

CEO Index, March 2008
Respondents: 321

Rank  2004 Election Issue          2008 Election Issue

1     Healthcare                   Iraq, War on Terror, Homeland Security
2     Terrorism/Homeland Security  Energy policy and cost reduction
3     Taxation                     Tax policy for corporations, business
                                    incentives
4     Job creation                 Federal debt reduction
5     Energy                       Tax Policy for individuals
6     International trade          Healthcare reform
7     Global labor sourcing        Immigration
8     Tort Reform                  Regulation and Government reform
9     Education                    International trade policy (NAFTA, etc.)
10    Other                        Education Policy
11    Social Policies (crime,      Social Security reform
       drugs, abortion, gun laws,
       etc.)
12    Social Security              Social policies (abortion, gay marriage,
                                    gun-rights, etc.)

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