CEOs Embrace Trump Administration’s Attitude Toward Regulation

By Cheryl Bolen

CEOs represented by the Business Roundtable are embracing the new attitude toward federal regulation adopted by President Donald Trump and his administration.

“They’ve adopted a change in mentality that I think will be really important and refreshing for the system, and refreshing for the businesses that are trying to operate in that environment,” Josh Bolten, president and CEO of the Business Roundtable (BRT), said in a conference call.

The BRT released the results of its first CEO economic outlook survey since Trump took office, revealing that the president’s priorities—tax code changes, regulatory overhauls and infrastructure investment—are all shared by their CEOs, Bolten said.

BRT is pleased that Trump has already moved “aggressively” to ease regulatory burdens that have slowed job creation and the economy, Bolten said.

Regulations Are Top Concern

When surveyed about the most important policies for their businesses, CEOs overwhelmingly put tax at the top of the list and regulation a strong second, with infrastructure third, Bolten said.

Although there is a lot of turbulence around the Republican health-care bill, other elements of the president’s agenda are well on track, Bolten said.

“On regulatory reform, the Trump administration has started off very aggressively and very positively from the standpoint of our businesses, who are itching to invest and create jobs, but are restrained by a lot of regulatory shackles,” Bolten said.

That process is “well launched” and will continue not only over the next weeks and months, but out over the next several years, Bolten said.

Ozone Rule Is Problem

The Environmental Protection Agency’s ozone rule, for example, had made it almost impossible to build new manufacturing facilities in counties out of attainment with air quality standards, Bolten said.

“Basically [the rule] made it harder to clean up the environment in those areas because they can’t generate the growth and the revenue that you need to take strong environmental action,” Bolten said.

That’s the kind of specific concern that the Trump administration is taking seriously and will take steps to address, Bolten said.

“More broadly, on the way they’re approaching regulation, they’re approaching it with exactly the right kind of mindset, which is do what’s necessary to protect health, safety, environment, consumers, but don’t do more just because you can,” Bolten said.

Clear Light of Day

Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and chairman of the Business Roundtable, said that in general, it always makes sense to look at regulations in the “clear light of day.”

Look at the facts and cost-benefit studies and make sure the transparency is right so that economic growth is the objective, Dimon said. “Growth and jobs for all people in America is part of the agenda.”

Bolten also pointed to the executive order signed in January by the president that requires agencies to eliminate two regulations for every one they issue, with no net cost increase in fiscal year 2017.

That seems on its face kind of gimmicky, but it “sets the right tone for the agencies” and tells them that they ought to be working to provide the protections needed, but cut the burden on the people who are creating jobs in this country, Bolten said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cheryl Bolen in Washington at cbolen@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com

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