JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon and IBM's Ginni Rometty on tax reform, U.S. economy, DACA

CEOs Jamie Dimon & Ginni Rometty

Republicans lawmakers are expected to be only days away from unveiling a tax reform plan, though many of the details are still under wraps. On Tuesday, "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell sat down with JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty to talk tax reform and how the government can help accelerate economic growth.

The powerful business leaders discussed what they believe would happen if the corporate tax rate was cut, why solving DACA is not only a priority but a "moral" issue and addressed questions about a potential presidential ticket. Dimon also explained his controversial comments during a July earnings call where he called being an American "almost an embarrassment."

Tax reform needs to be more than "modest tax cuts" 

Norah O'Donnell: "Jamie, what's the single most important thing Congress can do to jump-start the economy?"

Jamie Dimon: "The single most important thing bar none right now is tax reform. But it's important the American public know -- it's important because business vibrancy is what creates jobs and wages." 

O'Donnell: "I think everybody knows that our tax code is overly complex but how is it uncompetitive?"

Ginni Rometty: "Well it's uncompetitive in a few ways, but I think in addition to being over-complex, just give it a little perspective, it has been 30 years since there has been really major tax reform. And, if any of us think back 30 years, no cell phone, no internet. So, I mean, that should just tell you something about how out of date it is."

O'Donnell: "But, are we going to get tax reform or is it just going to be tax cuts?"

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty: Tax code is "uncompetitive" and "out of date"

Dimon: "We are going to give everything we can to get real reform because modest tax cuts won't make the difference. We need tax reform, lower rates, simpler system for both individuals and for corporations to have a more competitive system. We have driven $3 trillion overseas now that's being reinvested overseas because people can do a better job for the shareholder if it is reinvested overseas."

O'Donnell: "Because the corporate tax rate is too high?"

Dimon: "The corporate tax rate, and it's also a huge advantage for foreign companies to buy American companies."

Rometty: "The big picture for everyone is: us being competitive means the economy grows and more jobs."
O'Donnell: "What would happen if you cut the corporate tax rate, which is about 35 percent now, to let's say, 20 percent? What would happen? What would the effect be?"

Rometty: "It's going to cause economic growth and jobs. You know, as any company you think about – just all of us, when you do your own budget at home, you plan your budget on your after-tax dollar. You decide, 'what kind of house I can buy, what am I gonna do on a vacation?' You do all that with your after-tax money. Same is true with a business."
O'Donnell: "The president seems to be signaling now that he would rescind his promise to cut that very top individual tax rate which is at now, 39.6 percent, he would leave it at that amount for the wealthiest Americans. Would you support that?"

Rometty: "I don't have a real issue about any of that."

Dimon: "We're fine. We want them to do what's right for the country. And so we – we're looking at what's broadly good for the country, not what's good for our own personal pockets."

"CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell wih JPMOrgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty CBS News

Dimon: "I am very proud of being an American citizen" 

O'Donnell: "That July earnings call, Jamie, where you said, 'It's almost an embarrassment being an American citizen.'"

Dimon: "Yeah, let me correct that. I am very proud of being an American citizen, but we have a bunch of problems which is why we're growing slowly and we have these problems and its infrastructure, tax trade, and the reason to do those things is to drive jobs and wages. The embarrassment was all about is that I had read that it takes 10 years, I think this was accurate, to get permits to build one bridge today. Okay? It took 17 years to build the Freedom Tower. It took 18 months to build the Empire State Building. That is, you know, we we're the can-do nation that would get stuff done and we've lost it and I just want to get it back."

O'Donnell: "I was just on the Cuomo Bridge with the governor on the new bridge, which was fantastic, and it's taken half a century to build that bridge."

Rometty: "Just think what we could do then if you remove some of those quote 'roadblocks.' Right? What you would unleash here. And that's really what this is about."

Why solving DACA is a "priority" 

O'Donnell: "Let me ask you about Microsoft – I know you've been lobbying and talking to senators about DACA. Microsoft's president said that DACA is more important than tax reform. What needs to be done on this issue?"

Rometty: "DACA is an important topic – I don't think there's any disagreement the importance of the 'Dreamers' – the kids who were brought here, they were brought here by their parents. They're productive employees in our companies, I have over 30 in IBM and I think it is a priority to get that settled, how they can legally be here."

Dimon: "I totally agree, it's a moral thing. You know, I don't think it has a bigger economic effect than taxes, but it's hard to take 800,000 kids and not say they deserve the right to stay and have an opportunity here when they were brought in that way, so morally, we put a very high priority as important."

Rometty: "No fault of their own."

Dimon: "And almost every company we know made a very strong statement supporting DACA."

White House aspirations?

O'Donnell: "Jamie, you've already got a busy day job, but you've been spending a lot of time in Washington. How many trips have you made this year?"

Dimon: "I think this is number 21 or 22, but I'm still doing my job for my shareholders."

O'Donnell: "And why is it so critical to spend so much time here? You've seen the word 'shadow president,' Jamie Dimon, the shadow president, but..."

Rometty: "I would vote for him."

Dimon: "I thought she was my friend! Ginni for president!"

O'Donnell: "Here's the ticket right here!"

Rometty: "No, no, no."

O'Donnell: "Um, but why is it so important to spend so much time here?"

Dimon: "So we all spend time, because this is so important now."

Rometty: "There's one more layer down I would add on to this. How do you make change really happen? You have to engage. So the right word to me is engagement. It isn't about just writing a statement and putting it in a newspaper. That isn't how you get change. This is democracy. There are people with different voices, and so I think that's really what our job is, to help, for the policies that are really important, to come and help engage to get that to change, and have people, you know, make change in this country."

Dimon: "That's why she should be president."