AT&T’s CEO: U.S. Needs Lower Taxes, Less Regulation

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.”


  • Mike

    But look at the effective tax rate. We have so many loopholes that our corporate rate drops substantially.

  • David

    Had dinner with a west coast senator last night who said he is sponsoring a bi-partisan tax bill next week that does what AT&T (and most every business)wants, lowers the corporate tax rate substantially. How do they plan on doing it? By closing lots of the loopholes. Tax consultants, accounting firms and other tax-niche companies are going to hate the bill but other businesses should like the end result.

  • More, please

    Does AT&T pay for, or trade services to, D Publishing in exchange for coverage in FrontBurner?

  • @More, please: No. Neither does American Airlines or Blockbuster or 7-Eleven or any of the other local companies that we write about.

  • No, the World Affairs Council is an event, and it’s covered as such.

    I still have my membership pamphlet sitting on my table.. been meaning to join…

  • sarah

    I have a feeling that a move anywhere else was nixed because AT&T’s ‘mobile network’ gets service in approximately 2.4 cities in the U.S. (Thank God I live in one so I can actually enjoy my iPhone.)

  • Randy Mayeux

    Let’s be sure to have fewer regulations re. transportation safety… We can trust Toyota to let the people know about acceleration problems on their own, and the government will never have to put pressure on them to get them to recall their cars…

    Reagan, who did not like government regulation, said it best (although he was talking about the Soviet Union) — “trust, but verify.” “Verify” = regulation.

    We read this just today: Goldman Sachs, Greece Didn’t Disclose Swap, Investors ‘Fooled’

    Do you trust corporate CEO’s to do what is right and best? I don’t!