Most of America's top chief executives believe the next president will raise taxes, whether it is George Bush or Michael Dukakis, Fortune Magazine says.
According to a new survey, 65 percent of America's leading chief executive officers believe Bush would raise taxes, while 31 percent said the Republican vice president would not.In contrast, 98 percent of the CEOs are sure that Dukakis, the Democratic governor of Massachusetts, would raise taxes if elected in November.
The results come from the latest FORTUNE 500/CNN Moneyline CEO survey, covering 215 chief executives from Fortune Industrial 500 and Fortune Service 500 companies - the magazine's annual listings of the largest U.S. firms.
The unpopular nature of tax increases has not been lost on either candidate. Bush won raucous applause at the Republican convention last week for his definitive statement against a tax hike. The vice president said in his acceptance speech that Congress would push for a tax increase and he would say: "Read my lips. No. No. No."
Dukakis has also been keen to avoid being cast as a big-spending liberal by the press, carefully discussing his "revenue increases" without mentioning a tax hike.
But the CEOs felt tax increases would come as a necessity for either party in power. "I see no alternative if we're going to get the deficit down," said David Swanson of Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Centrol Soya in the survey.
The executives said the real difference would come in how Bush or Dukakis raised taxes. Those surveyed felt Bush would be kinder to corporate America than Dukakis. "Bush will stay off the backs of business with taxes," said William Boeschenstein of Owens-Corning Fiberglas.
The businessmen will overwhelmingly support the vice president: Bush beat Dukakis by 86 to 7 percent in the poll.
As far as who will win in November, the predictions are closer. Half of the CEOs said Bush will win, while 33 percent said the Democratic ticket will triumph.