Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Otellini on making the US competitive for industry

via Tom Friedman. While I'm not sure if Otellini's assertion is correct that we're on a point on the Laffer curve where cutting corporate taxes would increase tax revenues, it's not out of the realm of possibility, and cutting corporate taxes would certainly increase GDP substantially, at the very least. R+D and capital equipment credits probably WOULD pay for themselves. Unfortunately, with a bloated budget, it's going to be hard to get that through...
"The things that are not conducive to investments here are [corporate] taxes and capital equipment credits," [Otellini] said. "A new semiconductor factory at world scale built from scratch is about $4.5 billion — in the United States. If I build that factory in almost any other country in the world, where they have significant incentive programs, I could save $1 billion," because of all the tax breaks these governments throw in. Not surprisingly, the last factory Intel built from scratch was in China. "That comes online in October," he said. "And it wasn't because the labor costs are lower. Yeah, the construction costs were a little bit lower, but the cost of operating when you look at it after tax was substantially lower and you have local market access."

These local incentives matter because smart, skilled labor is everywhere now. Intel can thrive today — not just survive, but thrive — and never hire another American. Asked if his company was being held back by weak science and math education in America's K-12 schools, Otellini explained:

"As a citizen, I hate it. As a global employer, I have the luxury of hiring the best engineers anywhere on earth. If I can't get them out of M.I.T., I'll get them out of Tsing Hua" — Beijing's M.I.T...


If the government just boosted the research and development tax credit by 5 percent and lowered corporate taxes, argued Otellini, and we "started one or two more projects in companies around the country that made them more productive and more competitive, the government's tax revenues are going to grow." With the generous research and development tax credits and lower corporate taxes they receive, Intel's chief competitors in South Korea basically have "zero cost of money," said Otellini. Intel can compete against that with superior technology, but many other U.S. firms can't.

Does the Obama team get it? Otellini compared the Obama administration to a "diode" — an electronic device that conducts electric current in only one direction. They are very good at listening to Silicon Valley, he said, but not so good at responding.




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