The government must collaborate with businesses if it wants to solve some of society’s most pressing problems, Johnson & Johnson Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky told CNBC on Thursday.
“It takes all of us working together,” Gorsky told “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer in a special Veterans Day show at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. “If we’re going to solve issues like health care, if we’re going to take on issues about how do we grow our economy, how do we create more high-paying jobs, that requires industry and the government working together.”
Gorsky spoke to tax reform, which The Washington Post reported on Thursday was facing competing bills from Senate and House Republicans.
The Trump administration has been pushing for sweeping tax reform that lawmakers say will make filing taxes easier on the layman and make U.S. companies more competitive.
“It starts with smart tax policy,” Gorsky said. “How do we make sure that we have competitive tax policy so that companies, frankly, aren’t making bad decisions about moving their things around based on tax alone? It should be based on the strategy.”
And for Gorsky, a West Point graduate, a successful strategy has two components: innovation and execution.
“You’ve got to have a very clear plan, make sure you’re delivering on that, that you’re crossing the T’s, dotting the I’s,” the CEO said.
Gorsky added that he learned much of the strategy he now employs at the massive pharmaceutical and consumer goods company he runs at West Point.
But the CEO also delivered a harrowing public service announcement about veterans that he thinks goes largely unnoticed.
“We owe the men and women of this country who have served … the millions who have served, who really protect us, keep us safe, such a deep debt,” Gorsky said. “That whole theme of make sure you say ‘Thank you for your service,’ I think that’s a great gesture, it’s awesome to do, but it’s not enough.”
In reality, scores of veterans suffer from serious mental conditions, and an average of 20 veterans are lost to suicide per day, the CEO said.
“We cannot leave them behind,” Gorsky told Cramer. “The [Department of Veterans Affairs] has a lot of great programs and we’ve got to make sure these people know where and how to get help. We’ve got to make sure they know how to reach out to the VA, to other veteran service organizations. And frankly, sometimes all it takes is a friend to make a call, to connect, to reach out, so we’ve got to get communities, cities, churches, everybody working together because they deserve our best.”