Today at 10:30am, president Trump will summon some of America’s most prominent corporate executives to the White House Thursday, in a roundtable brainstorming session whose purpose is to come up with policy ideas meant to facilitate trade and taxes, boost job creation and generally jump-start the US economy.
According to press reports, Trump will split the group of executives, among which Johnson & Johnson’s chief executive officer, Alex Gorsky, and David Farr, chairman of Emerson Electric, into four working groups to come up with recommendations on deregulation, workforce training, infrastructure, taxes, and trade. Vice President Mike Pence and White House aides will meet with the individual working groups and compile their recommendations for the president ahead of his meeting with the full group of executives.
According to Axios, which cites a planning document, the participants - and groups - are as follows:
- Tax and trade team: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin; top economic advisor Gary Cohn and his aides Jeremy Katz and Shahira Knight; top trade advisor Peter Navarro; Michael Dell, the CEO of Dell Technologies; Inge Thulin, CEO of 3M; Kenneth Frazier, CEO of pharmaceutical company Merck & Co.; Mark Fields, CEO of Ford; Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson & Johnson.
- Regulatory reform team: Budget Director Mick Mulvaney; senior policy advisors Stephen Miller and Andrew Bremberg; Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson; Whirlpool CEO Jeff Fettig; International Paper CEO Mark Sutton; Emerson Electric CEO David Farr; Harris Corp. CEO Bill Brown; and Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison.
- Infrastructure team: Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao; Gary Cohn will float into this session as well; former Bush Administration official DJ Gribbin; Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman; Corning CEO Wendell Weeks; Nucor Corp. CEO John Ferriola; US Steel CEO Mario Longhi; Veresen Inc. CEO Don Althoff; Archer Daniels Midland CEO Juan Luciano.
- Workforce of the future: Ivanka Trump; nominee for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross; Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon; Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris; United Technologies CEO Greg Hayes; LiveOps CEO Keith Leimbach; Altec CEO Lee Styslinger; General Dynamics CEO Phebe Novakovic; assistant to the President, Reed Cordish; Dana CEO James Kamsickas.
The genesis of the idea comes from Jared Kushner, who originated the concept of working sessions. A key part of Kushner's job has been outreach to the private sector. He thinks government needs to find innovative ways to work closer with the private sector, Axios adds. Ivanka Trump will also participate in today's session.
Trump has used previous meetings with companies to encourage corporate leaders to build their products in the U.S., offering tax breaks and lower regulation to bring down costs -- and warning that he wants to raise tariffs on products produced overseas. The heads of labor organizations, automotive firms, national retail chains, drug companies, and airlines are all among the groups who have met with Trump in the West Wing in recent weeks.
"As a successful businessman himself, the president knows that if we’re going to get the country back to work, we need to hear directly from job creators what is holding them back and, where appropriate, take steps to remove the barriers," White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Wednesday. "As you can tell by the structure of the meeting, the president is expecting these interactions to lead to real action being taken by the administration," he added.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Trump would address his plans to overhaul the tax code, which he has said he will deliver within weeks, or a border-adjustment tax proposal under consideration by House Republicans, which would shift the tax burden from exporters to importers. As Bloomberg adds, republican leaders in the House, including Speaker Paul Ryan, argue a border-adjustment tax would benefit American manufacturing while providing revenue to make up for losses from reducing corporate tax rates. Several manufacturers, including Dow Chemical, are actively lobbying for the plan, which Trump has called "too complicated." Opponents, including net importers like Walmart, oppose it and warn it will raise taxes on American consumers.