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Why is Trump cozying up to America's most powerful business leaders? | Robert Reich

Why is Trump cozying up to America's most powerful business leaders?  |  Robert Reich
Why is Trump cozying up to America's most powerful business leaders?  |  Robert Reich


The Business Roundtable is an association of more than 200 CEOs of America's largest companies. He likes to consider himself socially responsible.

Last Wednesday, its president, Joshua Bolten, told reporters that his group anticipated an eight-figure drop while throwing its weight behind protecting and strengthening tax reform.

Translated: This will invest money to ensure that Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts, most of which benefit big corporations and the wealthy, do not expire in 2025, as planned.

On Thursday, Trump met at the Business Roundtables headquarters in Washington with more than 80 CEOs, including Apple's Tim Cook, JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon and Walmart's Doug McMillon.

Trump reportedly promised CEOs that he would further cut corporate taxes and restrict business regulation if elected president.

Trump's 2017 tax cuts reduced the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. It cost America $1.3 trillion.

These tax cuts, along with those implemented by George W. Bush, are the main reason the national debt is growing as a percentage of the economy.

What did businesses do with the money they saved? They didn't invest it or use it to raise wages. Nothing has affected average workers.

Much of it was spent on share buybacks. The year after the tax cut took effect, companies bought back a record $1 trillion of their stock. Buybacks do nothing for the economy but increase stock prices and, not coincidentally, CEO compensation, which is largely stock.

Making Trump's 2017 tax cuts permanent, as the Business Roundtable wants, will cost $4 trillion over the next 10 years, or $400 billion a year, and cause the debt to skyrocket.

Yet every one of the CEOs Trump met with last week thrived under Biden. Corporate profits are rising sharply. Stocks are at near record levels. Inflation has fallen.

So why are they attracted to Trump, whose antics have the potential to destabilize the economy? Is it a simple ideology?

Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City (a nonprofit that represents the city's top business leaders), says Republican billionaires told her the Democrats' threat to capitalism was more worrying than the threat to democracy. of Trump.

In my experience, CEOs of large companies are more practical than ideological. They are turning to Trump because they want even more tax cuts and regulatory loosening, which means even more money in their own pockets.

The motto of business roundtables More than leaders. Leadership suggests a higher purpose than making one’s CEOs and companies rich.

Indeed, in August 2019, the Roundtable released a high-profile statement expressing a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders, including a commitment to fairly compensate all workers and provide meaningful benefits, as well as supporting communities in which we work and to protect the environment. by adopting sustainable practices in all our activities.

Signed by 181 CEOs of major U.S. companies, the declaration concludes that each of our stakeholders is essential and committed to delivering value to them.

The declaration received very favorable press. But it was rubbish. At the time, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were gaining ground in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries with their criticism of corporate America, and Roundtable CEOs were worried. They needed a cover.

Then, after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, many of these CEOs announced they would not provide campaign funds to Republican members of Congress who refused to certify the 2020 election.

Now they're lining up to fund Trump, because they and their companies want another giant tax cut and rollback of regulations.

If the CEOs of the Business Roundtables made honest commitments to all their stakeholders, they would not seek massive tax cuts.

If they cared about preserving American democracy, they would not support Trump or any Republican.

The greedy cynicism of the American corporate elite is now on full display.




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