What To Expect When Expecting A Government Shutdown

National Journal
Jerry Hagstrom
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Jerry Hagstrom
Oct. 1, 2013, 1:03 a.m.

Former Xer­ox Chair­wo­man and CEO Anne Mul­cahy, who is of­ten men­tioned as a pos­sible high-level ap­pointee in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, took a couple of digs today at fel­low CEOs Meg Whit­man and Carly Fior­ina, the Re­pub­lic­ans run­ning for gov­ernor and sen­at­or from Cali­for­nia, re­spect­ively.

“I am the former wo­man CEO that is not run­ning for pub­lic of­fice in Cali­for­nia,” Mul­cahy said in a speech to the Wo­men’s For­eign Policy Group. She ad­ded that there are “a few great wo­men and not so great wo­men run­ning in to­mor­row’s elec­tion.” But Mul­cahy said that her com­ment did not mean that she op­poses CEOs run­ning for of­fice in gen­er­al, adding that she is “a huge fan” of New York City May­or Mi­chael Bloomberg.

Mul­cahy, a Demo­crat who has been men­tioned as a pos­sible suc­cessor to Lawrence Sum­mers as dir­ect­or of the Na­tion­al Eco­nom­ic Coun­cil or for oth­er ad­min­is­tra­tion jobs, said Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials “need to do a bet­ter job of listen­ing [to the busi­ness com­munity] with an in­ten­tion to be re­spons­ive.” But she ad­ded that the busi­ness com­munity, which has been crit­ic­al of Obama, should not be “totally pa­ro­chi­al about busi­ness.”

Mul­cahy said she has not been ap­proached for the NEC job, but that “in­form­ally or form­ally I hope to play a role between gov­ern­ment and busi­ness.” Mul­cahy de­scribed the spec­u­la­tion about her be­com­ing dir­ect­or of the NEC as a “me­dia frenzy” promp­ted by the fact that she is one of the few Demo­crat­ic wo­men who has been a CEO, and be­cause White House in­siders have in­dic­ated they want a wo­man busi­ness lead­er for the post. The ad­min­is­tra­tion, she said, can be more re­spons­ive to busi­ness “but not be blind to the un­der­served in this coun­try” and not “grant” busi­ness all it wants. “It’s jobs, jobs, jobs “¦ but we can’t be naïve about pulling back from our glob­al re­spons­ib­il­it­ies,” she ad­ded.

In her role as chair­wo­man of the in­ter­na­tion­al char­ity Save the Chil­dren, Mul­cahy said she has learned that so many of the world’s prob­lems, such as poor nu­tri­tion and lack of san­it­a­tion, are “solv­able.” She also noted that she re­cently re­turned from Ir­aq and said that mil­it­ary vic­tor­ies in Ir­aq and Afgh­anistan will be short lived if there are not prop­er schools to edu­cate the next gen­er­a­tions in those coun­tries. Such is­sues can­not be ad­dressed by “silos” sep­ar­at­ing gov­ern­ment and busi­ness, she said.

Mul­cahy said that busi­ness lead­ers are not in­creas­ing in­vest­ment be­cause they do not see a de­mand for products, not be­cause they are con­cerned about health-care re­form or oth­er ad­min­is­tra­tion policies. “We have learned to get by with less labor,” she said.

It’s a “po­ten­tially real­ist­ic out­come” for the United States to be­come “the next Ja­pan” with a long-term slow eco­nomy, but to avoid that scen­ario she sug­ges­ted that the coun­try has to get used to slower growth over the next few years and fo­cus on re­struc­tur­ing some in­dus­tries and en­cour­aging en­vir­on­ment­al and health-care busi­nesses.

Mul­cahy de­scribed pro­tec­tion­ism and out­sourcing as “the most mis­un­der­stood is­sues out there.” More than half of Xer­ox’s rev­en­ues are from out­side the United States, but less than half its labor is out­side the coun­try, she said. She ac­know­ledged that there are “bad act­ors” with op­er­a­tions in the Cay­man Is­lands and oth­er off­shore loc­a­tions, but urged politi­cians to “get off this is­sue” and fo­cus on U.S. prob­lems. “Our coun­try has a heap of prob­lems. It’s un­pro­duct­ive to go in­to the blame game.”

Mul­cahy said she be­lieves China and In­dia are rising not be­cause they have cheap labor rates, but be­cause they are mak­ing in­vest­ments and be­cause their uni­versit­ies are in­creas­ing their gradu­ation rates. She said it is im­port­ant for the United States to “ad­dress skill sets in math and sci­ence” be­cause “we have lost our way in cre­at­ing en­thu­si­asm for ca­reers that would gen­er­ate in­nov­a­tion.”

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