reforming the U.S. tax code and entitlement programs next year.
Although this longer-term plan would not be enough to avert the more immediate fiscal cliff, it is widely seen as an important step toward achieving a compromise. 'FINE' WITH WEALTHY PAYING MORE TAXES
Greifeld confirmed on Monday that he is a member of the Fix the Debt campaign, an ad hoc lobby group made up of more than 80 CEOs pushing for long-term deficit reduction.
The group advocates for reforms to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, as well as pro-growth tax reform that would lower rates and raise revenue. Greifeld told Reuters on the sidelines of the Monday event that he met last week with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who is expected to be a main negotiator for the Obama administration on the fiscal cliff.
Greifeld said he came away feeling Geithner was pragmatic and data-driven. That is a good sign, he said.
He also said during the interview that he would be fine with wealthier Americans paying more in individual taxes as long as they were properly balanced with spending cuts.
I think to the extent that the Bush-era tax cuts lapse and we went back to the rates that were in the Clinton time ... if that were part of a balanced plan, I would be fine with that, he told Reuters. If those tax cuts expire, the wealthiest would see their rates spike to 39.6 percent from 35 percent.
Greifeld declined to offer his view on which federal spending programs should be cut, although he noted there was no one program big enough and the government should be looking at small steps it can take across the board.
More likely, you are going to see budget sanity be achieved by a thousand small steps as opposed to one or two large ones, he said.
He would have concerns, however, about extending such smaller cuts to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission - the federal agency charged with regulating Nasdaq OMX and other stock exchanges.
The White House's Office of Management and Budget has projected that, if the sequestration portion of the fiscal cliff takes effect, the SEC would be faced with an 8.2 percent cut, or $108 million to its $1.3 billion budget.
Greifeld said such a cut could harm the ability of exchanges to get things done. That is because federal securities laws