Courting CEOs, Trump says he intends to cut corporate taxes again

Former President Donald J. Trump told a group of the most powerful U.S. leaders Thursday that he intends to cut the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 20 percent , according to three people who attended the meeting and who spoke on condition of anonymity because ground rules stipulated that the meeting was confidential.

Mr. Trump made the remarks from a comfortable gray armchair during a conversation with his former economic adviser Larry Kudlow before an audience of dozens of top executives, including Apple’s Tim Cook, JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, Doug McMillon of Walmart and Charles W. Scharf of Wells Fargo.

They had gathered Thursday morning in Washington for a meeting of the Business Roundtable, an influential business group, and there was reportedly palpable relief in the room when Mr. Trump, who has tried to woo business leaders as potential donors, told leaders much of what they hoped to hear.

Many American business leaders are worried that in a second term, Mr. Trump may not be as friendly toward them as he was at the start. Many ended up abandoning him and publicly criticizing him, especially after the attack on the Capitol in January. 6, 2021.

Mr. Trump, whose public speeches are often characterized by conspiratorial promises to expel “communists” from government and harsh policies such as overseeing the largest deportation operation in American history, has been described by one of the people present at the meeting as being relatively solid. More measured than usual, modifying his messages for the elitist audience. He has significantly softened his language on immigration.

But it was his speech on taxes that sounded most pleasing to the leaders in the room, according to those at the meeting.

Mr. Kudlow’s first question to Mr. Trump touched on the topic that most concerned executives: the fact that significant parts of Mr. Trump’s proposed tax cut package will expire next year. next.

Specifically, Mr. Trump reportedly told them he wanted to further lower the corporate tax rate to 20%, which he said he liked because it’s a “round number” and because he thought it would make American businesses more competitive and create jobs, according to those present.

He reportedly added that in his view, one of the main reasons the economy performed so well during his first term until the pandemic was his tax cuts – and in particular the permanent reduction in the rate corporate tax rate to 21 percent compared to 35 percent during his 2017 term. tax law.

(Mr. Trump inherited from former President Barack Obama a growing economy amid a long and steady recovery from the Great Recession of 2008-09; the economy continued to perform much the same until ‘to the pandemic. At the end of Mr. Trump’s first term a year later, he pushed Congress, then controlled by Republicans, to lower the corporate tax rate.)

Mr. Trump has proposed extending all parts of the 2017 tax cut law that will automatically expire at the end of 2025 if Congress does not pass new legislation, including maintaining the highest marginal tax rates. lower threshold of the 2017 law for all income levels and its higher threshold. For inheritances exempt from any inheritance tax.

President Biden has proposed maintaining the law’s reduced rates for low- and middle-income earners, but allowing higher taxes on personal incomes above $400,000 and on larger inheritances. He also proposed increasing the corporate tax rate to 28 percent.

Mr. Biden argued that because his plan would make the rich and corporations pay more, it would offset the loss of government revenue from extending tax cuts to lower and middle-income levels, and would not burden therefore not the national debt. Full extension of the 2017 law, which Mr. Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress financed by government borrowing would add billions of dollars in additional public debt if not accompanied by further spending cuts.

Mr. Trump’s tax cuts have become something of a rallying cry for the business elite and their wealthy donors and potential donors, who fear that the parts of the cuts that benefit them most will expire next year without it. Republican control in Washington.

A corporate tax rate close to 20 percent was one of Mr. Trump’s demands when fighting his tax cut bill in 2017, a law that Republicans rushed to to adopt at the end of that year.

Mr. Trump said other things Thursday that appeared to reassure leaders, according to people in the room. After delivering his usual campaign lines about the millions of immigrants crossing the border under Mr. Biden’s leadership, Mr. Trump spoke of the importance of high-skilled immigration, saying he knew businesses had need these workers, the three people said.

Mr Trump said he thought it was “wrong” that people who made sacrifices to come to America and attend top US schools were forced to return home to their countries, one of the sources. Another person in the room recalled that Mr. Trump emphasized that highly skilled immigrants who received an American education could succeed either in the United States or in their home countries. He said the best and brightest were needed to help America, this person said.

Business leaders were among those who repeatedly urged Mr. Trump to change his restrictive immigration policies while in office; he often told these leaders that he agreed with their push for high-skilled immigration, while adopting policies that would make it more difficult. The Trump administration has taken steps to restrict visas for high-skilled workers as the pandemic has dramatically changed how the economy operates.

Mr. Trump, who was convicted last month of falsifying business records to conceal a secret payment to a porn actress during the 2016 election, offered other lines to please executive bosses. Among them, he spoke about his deregulation agenda and his desire to speed up the permitting process for businesses.

In April, Mr. Trump dined with oil company executives and lobbyists at his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, and told them they should give $1 billion to his presidential campaign because, s If elected, he would roll back environmental rules that he says are hampering their industry. According to two people who attended this dinner.

For months, Mr. Trump has faced a gaping campaign cash deficit with Mr. Biden, and he was seeking major donors long before he became the nominee. But his research has become more fruitful since he became the presumptive Republican nominee, and as some business leaders have increasingly opposed Mr. Biden’s policies.

Today, a number of those leaders are gradually coming to terms with the reality that Mr. Trump could win the White House again and are much more receptive to his rhetoric, even as several privately insist that they personally remain repelled by him.

Yet Mr. Trump continues to push for another economic measure that business interests generally oppose, reiterating Thursday to a group of House Republicans that he favored imposing much higher tariffs on most imported products.

Such import taxes would increase costs for companies importing raw materials and equipment, and could trigger a global trade war and retaliatory tariffs that make it harder for U.S. companies to sell their products abroad .

At the Business Roundtable, business leaders also heard from White House Chief of Staff Jeffrey D. Zients, who made the case for the Biden administration’s economic management and its ability to preserve stability domestically and globally, according to two people familiar with his position. Remarks. Zients cited the strong U.S. economic recovery from the pandemic and the Biden administration’s policies to compete with China. He also argued that trade wars and mass deportations would set America back, one of the sources said.

Although many in the business world took issue with Mr. Biden’s views, the executive audience seemed receptive to Mr. Zients, himself a former CEO, who is fluent in business.

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