Biden and corporate America? It’s complicated.’ | Trending Viral hub

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In the days before handing in your State of the Union Address Last month, President Biden called the CEOs of General Motors and Cisco Systems to ask their advice on the state of the U.S. economy and share how he planned to talk about it.

He then rode to Capitol Hill and, in his speech, promised to raise the rate about a new minimum tax his administration has levied on big businesses “so that every big corporation finally starts paying its fair share.”

“I also want to end tax breaks for Big Pharma, Big Oil, private jets, and massive executive payouts,” Biden continued, adding, “End this now.”

The sequence epitomizes Biden’s alternately cozy and combative relationship with America’s business leaders, which has spilled over into the national economy, federal politics and now the 2024 campaign for the White House.

The president has courted and pilloried corporate America as he seeks re-election this fall. Corporate leaders have enjoyed record profits during his tenure and an open channel with his administration, but they have bristled at some of his most important policy decisions.

There is a certain symbiosis with corporate leaders in much of Biden’s economic agenda. His industrial policy initiatives depend largely on corporate tax incentives, which he advocates at inaugurations across the country: The climate and advanced manufacturing laws that Biden signed in 2022 include big tax cuts for corporations that invest in the production of semiconductors, solar panels and other strategic goods. Republicans have derisively called such incentives “corporate welfare.”

Biden frequently seeks advice from executives on a wide range of economic issues, including supply chain issues, infrastructure investments and worker training. She impressed Calvin Butler, CEO of utility giant Exelon, in a two-hour Oval Office meeting with executives last fall.

“He was involved in it, and I can tell you this,” Butler said in an interview. “About an hour later, they kept tapping him to say, ‘Hey, you know, we have other things to do.’ But he wanted to continue like this. He wanted to keep talking.”

However, as he seeks re-election, Biden has leaned heavily into populist attacks against the executives and companies he has been involved with. He loves to talk about raising corporate taxes. He also has led to blame big companies, sometimes by name, for increasing the prices of some basic consumer products. He criticizes others for reducing portions of snacks, such as chocolate bars, without reducing their prices.

Biden has also brought to power an economic philosophy that relies heavily on the federal government’s intervention in private markets. That includes investments in infrastructure and industries, which business leaders generally support.

But it also includes environmental, financial and other regulations aimed at reducing risks in the market. Businesses oppose those efforts, along with the administration’s aggressive enforcement of antitrust laws and other initiatives aimed at spurring competition.

As a result, Biden’s relationship with American businesses “is complicated,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a large business lobby group in Washington.

Biden and his economic team have been open and thorough in their outreach to business groups, Bradley said, but frustrating in their policy decisions. House officials estimate that federal agencies under the Biden administration have issued about twice as many regulations considered “economically significant” (currently defined as having an annual effect of at least $200 million on the economy) than under the Biden administration. President Donald J. Trump.

It’s a contrast to Trump, whose administration employed a less consistent outreach and chaotically lurched from one crisis to another, business leaders say. Bradley said executives didn’t know which combination they preferred.

“You can look at a Trump administration with much more uncertainty, but in the sense that the regulatory effort was moving to alleviate regulatory costs,” he said. “Here in the Biden administration, we have a pretty clear idea of ​​where they are going to go; How overwhelming will it be in terms of the regulatory level? And then, interestingly, there are a lot of people who say, ‘Chaos is better.'”

Biden regularly speaks with leaders of large corporations and small businesses, and has visited dozens of companies while in office. Executives who have spoken with the president and his aides say they are listening carefully to companies’ concerns, even as Biden and his team make clear they disagree on the policy issue at hand.

Exelon’s Butler said he had urged Biden in the White House to move faster to remove permitting issues and other obstacles to building new energy infrastructure. Mark Cuban, the famous investor and founder of Cost Plus Drugs, said in an email that his conversations with Mr. Biden focused largely on health care, including what he called the “great job” the president had done in getting Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs.

Brad Smith, CEO of Microsoft, said in an interview that he had spoken with Biden about implementing his infrastructure bill and the CHIPS and Science Act, along with regulating artificial intelligence. He praised Biden’s efforts to strengthen cybersecurity and said he has “done more in his presidency than any president” on that issue.

Biden’s staff, Smith added, “has extensive experience that is being applied at a deep level.” Under Trump, “the staff was smaller,” she said. “There weren’t that many in many key positions.”

Other executives have criticized Biden’s policies, in whole or in part. Oil and gas executives They have reported a pause in the administration on the authorization of new natural gas export terminals. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, called Biden’s climate law and other green energy initiatives “inflationary.” an interview with CNBC this year.

Ken Griffin, founder of financial firm Citadel and a major Republican donor, criticized Biden’s economic speech in a Bloomberg interview in November. “Whoever told him to run for Bidenomics has no idea how to read an economics textbook,” Griffin said.

Biden’s approach to executives is similar to the approach employed by President Barack Obama and his team, according to business leaders and administration officials who also served under the Obama administration.

But Biden differs from Obama – and Trump – in several ways. Executives who have spoken with him say the president makes clear in conversations that he is a “jobs guy,” measuring economic success in part by creating good-paying union jobs. He has embraced rigorous federal scrutiny of mergers and other antitrust issues to a degree that even Obama did not.

It also has deeper political entanglements with corporate behavior. Biden’s climate agenda combines corporate tax incentives for domestic production with a strict wave of regulations aimed at rapidly reducing fossil fuel emissions. In some casesAgencies under the Biden administration have watered down some regulatory proposals in their final form, explicitly, administration officials say, to address corporate concerns.

Lael Brainard, who heads the White House National Economic Council, said in an interview that the president’s targeted corporate tax breaks were a departure from a Republican philosophy that pushed for “blanket tax breaks for companies, regardless of whether they were making investments or No”. that are good for America, create jobs and help with a clean energy transition.”

Democratic pollsters are encouraging Biden to amplify that message in his re-election campaign. They want him to emphasize his plans to raise taxes on big businesses, while he criticizes them for raising prices to boost profits and charging customers with “junk fees” for things like concert tickets. Their data suggests that corporate taxes are a key vulnerability this fall for Trump, who reduced corporate tax rates while in office and will face Biden in a rematch in 2020.

Voters “want to feel like the president is on their side against people who they think are pressuring them,” said Evan Roth Smith, chief pollster for the Democratic group Blueprint. “Voters have no sympathy for big business right now,” he added.

Bradley, of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said many executives bristled at that language and, in particular, at Biden’s practice of singling out companies by name for raising prices or cutting portions. But some executives dismiss or downplay Biden’s tax proposals — and repeated calls for companies to pay their “fair share” — as campaign grandstanding.

“Recognizing how DC works and that we’re in a political season, I tend not to go too high or too low on any of that,” Butler said.

Microsoft’s Smith said it was an area of ​​disagreement in an otherwise positive relationship with the president.

“We’re not going to be the first company to accept tax increases,” he said. But, he added later, “I think our tax rate is high enough that our initial reaction is, typically, that he’s talking about someone else.”

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