After receiving a mention during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, Caterpillar’s CEO Doug Olberhelman was invited to share his thoughts on the U.S. economy and job creation on CNBC’s Squawk Box.
Olberhelman said he was “surprised” but “happy” to hear Obama’s kudos for bringing jobs back into the country from Japan. And as far as what he thinks is holding the country back the most, Olberhelman said it’s Congress domination of newspaper front pages as it still lacks a resolution to the country’s debt problem.
“You know we’ve got to get the debt thing, the fiscal thing, we’ve got to get that off the front page,” he said. “That is holding us back and it’s going to be rising here in rhetoric for the next month. We desperately need long-term entitlement reform.”
As far as creating more jobs in the U.S., Olberhelman said “deep, comprehensive immigration reform,” a reform of the tax code and more fiscal confidence were key.
“The key to all this is growth … and that’s really what we need desperately, here and around the world,” he told CNBC. “A 2.5 percent worldwide growth rate … is really the core root of our problem right now.”
Olberhelman said it appears that this could be the year immigration reform happens and noted that “it would be a wonderful win for all of us.”