CEOs Show Mixed But Favorable Reaction To Tax Reform Plan

More than half of business leaders polled by the 92nd Yale CEO forum in New York City last week believe President Donald Trump should sign the proposed tax reform package into law, though many expressed concerns over its impact on the national debt and healthcare system.

“While they strongly applaud the much-needed lowered corporate tax rate for global competition reasons, they feel it still misses the mark on multiple fronts: adding to the nation’s crushing debt; punishing blue states; retaining interest treatment; healthcare impact; the burden on middle class; the impact on higher education,” Yale School of Management Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld told Chief Executive.

A total of 55 percent of the business leaders polled support making the proposed tax reforms law, but 72 percent believe that it is wrong for the proposed reform package to sizably increase the national debt. Sixty-two percent are concerned that the tax proposal will have a negative impact the U.S. healthcare system.

“One year into the Trump administration, U.S. business leaders are disappointed, but still hopeful.” – Jeffrey Sonnenfeld

On a broader scope, CEOs at the forum indicated that they believe Trump’s first year in office has had a negative effect on the nation’s international image.

Eight-one percent of CEO forum attendees said they were embarrassed by President Trump’s representation of the country’s interests and image on the world stage, and 77 percent saying they are afraid the country has alienated key diplomatic allies under the President’s watch.

But the business-friendly nature of the Trump administration has many CEOs hopeful that the future will bring better opportunities for the nation’s business community.

“One year into the Trump administration, U.S. business leaders are disappointed, but still hopeful,” Sonnenfeld says. “They began the year optimistic and appreciative of a White House that wanted to listen to them, engage them, and advance a pro-business agenda. In fact, in their discussion, the CEOs still applaud the administration for continuing to engage the business community, and that he has made the economy his number 1 agenda item. While many remain hopeful—and appreciate the soaring markets—few feel the administration’s mission has been accomplished.”

But the president’s first year in office, and the controversial headlines surrounding it, has left CEOs with their guard up, according to Sonnenfeld.

“[Business leaders] were startled by the early divisive jousting between companies pitting competitors against each other in The Apprentice-like PR contests—often misstating their global investment and employment practices in the process, eroded collaborative industry efforts,” Sonnenfeld says. “They were discouraged over inconsistent trade initiatives, despite extensive open dialogues in D.C. last spring. They are frustrated over lost ground in immigration reform. They were similarly disappointed by healthcare-reform promises going unanswered.”

President Trump’s reaction to hate groups, the administration’s alleged ties to Russia, lack of enthusiasm for needed global alliances and inconsistent antitrust policies have left U.S. business leaders confused and cynical, according to Sonnenfeld.

As Congress moves to approve massive tax reforms this week, time will tell if those benefits will help outweigh the concerns CEOs have voiced over Trump’s first year in office in the coming year.