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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

For Trump, the honeymoon is definitely over


In June , optimism among American CEOs was at a three - year high on hopes that US President Donald Trump would succeed in implementing his pro- growth agenda , including tax cuts.

But this week , Trump has lost support from four executives who left an advisory panel on manufacturing over his response to a violent white supremacist rally in Virginia — a sign that big business is disenchanted with the billionaire leader .

Scott Paul , the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, on Tuesday added his name to a list of defectors that also includes the heads of Merck Pharmaceutical , Under Armour and Intel .

“It’ s the right thing to do ,” Paul said on Twitter.
Trump , never one to shy away from controversy, fired back .

“For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council , I have many to take their place , ” he tweeted.

“Grandstanders should not have gone on . JOBS!”
But there was a definite feeling that other shoes were ready to drop .

“CEOs quit Trump ’ s Panel : Who’ s Next ?” asked a headline on Bloomberg News television .

– To leave or not to leave ? –
In the early days of Trump ’ s presidency , which began in January , all the signs from big business were positive.

The Manhattan real estate tycoon - turned - world leader ran as a friend of the business community who pledged to enact tax cuts, streamline regulations and take other steps to boost growth in the world’ s biggest economy .

The Business Roundtable’ s CEO Economic Outlook Index published in June , which measures corporate spending and hiring plans over the next six months, rose to 93 . 9 for the second quarter , the highest since the same period of 2014 .

“I know the vast majority of (CEOs ) believe that really positive tax reform remains more than possible,” Business Roundtable president Joshua Bolten told reporters.

Of course , Trump ’s business agenda has faced other obstacles during his six months in office, and it was not clear that a downward turn in his popularity among blue - chip industry leaders would hinder his progress.

But executives are certainly facing a tough choice on whether to stay in the camp of a president with overall low approval ratings — but a passionate following among a majority of Republican voters and tax plans they favour .

For some , the choice was clear.
“After this weekend, I am not sure what it would take to get these CEOs to resign , ” former Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers , a Democrat, wrote in a Washington Post commentary.

“Demonizing ethnic groups ? That has happened. Renouncing international agreements that have supported business interests ? That has happened.

Personal profiteering from the presidency ? Also happened. Failure to deliver on ballyhooed promises ? That has happened as well. ”

Activists are aggressive on both sides on the issue .

The anti - Trump Grabyourwallet — which boycotts companies that sell Trump products — regularly prods its 62 ,300 Twitter followers to email companies that still have CEOs on White House panels.

On the conservative side , groups like the National Center for Public Policy have lambasted executives for criticizing Trump .

Last year , PepsiCo faced a brief boycott after chief executive Indra Nooyi publicly rued the election result shortly after Trump won last November. She later joined a White House advisory panel.

This week , Nooyi and other several prominent executives, including JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon , condemned the racism in Charlottesville — but signalled no plans to exit White House advisory panels.

“By stepping down , they ’ re making a nonpartisan group more partisan,” said Charles Elson, an expert at the University of Delaware in corporate governance .

“By stepping down , they lose the influence they could have. ”

AFP

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