Bank of America‘s chief executive is the latest business leader to speak out about restrictive voting legislation in states such as Georgia and Texas, calling for a federal bipartisan commission to investigate the measures.
“The right to vote should be distributed in the broadest sense and anything that goes against that shouldn’t be tolerated,” said CEO Brian Moynihan in an interview with Fintech Zoom’s Poppy Harlow on Friday.
The comments come just two days after more than 100 executives from major companies took out a full page ad in The New York Times defending the right to vote for all and opposing “any discriminatory legislation” that infringes on that right.
Moynihan acknowledged that states have the right to set their own voting standards, but he argued that businesses should speak out when they see something they feel is unjust.
He did just that a few years ago when the governor of North Carolina, the state where Bank of America is headquartered, signed a bill that banned transgender people from using public bathrooms for the sex they identify as.
Coca-Cola and Delta, which are both based in Atlanta, each have criticized the restrictive new laws in Georgia.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has also been vocal about his concerns regarding violence against Black Americans and social and economic injustice. Dimon told Fintech Zoom’s David Axelrod earlier this week that “the American dream is fraying and income inequality is like the fault line.”
Moynihan said he agreed with Dimon, and stressed that his bank plans to invest even more in local minority entrepreneurs as well as programs to help boost job skills.
Economy on the mend, but must be careful about spending
Moynihan also spoke to Harlow about the economy and President Joe Biden‘s proposal to raise corporate taxes. He said that he’s bullish about a rebound, citing forecasts from Bank of America‘s own economists that call for a 7% surge in GDP growth this year and another 5% increase in 2022.
“That’s much faster than the past few years,” he said, adding that it was encouraging to see the number of people filing for weekly jobless claims as well as the unemployment rate coming down.
But Moynihan hedged when asked if he supports Biden‘s plan to boost the corporate tax rate to 28% (from 21%) to help pay for the federal government’s $2 trillion stimulus package.
“We have to see what they come up with,” he said.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Lyft CEO John Zimmer are some of the corporate leaders who have said they are in favor of a tax hike.
Moynihan told Harlow that although he thinks America needs a “well-focused infrastructure plan” to stay competitive with the rest of the world, Washington needs to also be worried about the size of the spending package in order to preserve the nation’s credit rating.
And like many other business leaders, Moynihan stressed that his biggest concern about the US economy remains Covid-19, saying that America must “get the health care crisis” behind us and boost vaccinations.