Former Trump Critic Joins Dimon to Steer CEO Lobby Group

The selection of a Donald Trump naysayer to help lead America's key lobby group for CEOs has set up a potential clash with the president-elect on trade policy, though, at least for the moment, the gloves appear to be off.

istock-496166842-compressor-1Joshua Bolten, a chief of staff to former president George W. Bush, will take over as CEO of the Business Roundtable on January 23, the organization said. His appointment comes after the group last month appointed JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, a self-described Democrat, as its new chairman.

“I look forward to working closely with our membership, policymakers and other stakeholders to promote consensus on pro-growth policies that will benefit America and all Americans,” Bolten said.

Currently managing director of economic policy consultancy Rock Creek Global Advisers, Bolten said last year that Trump wasn’t fit for office and that his nomination as the Republican presidential frontrunner could cripple the party.

“That was then, this is now, and the now includes a president-elect Trump who has earned the benefit of the doubt from all of us who work in the policy world.

“That was then, this is now, and the now includes a president-elect Trump who has earned the benefit of the doubt from all of us who work in the policy world,” Bolten recently told Bloomberg. There was “plenty of space” to work with Trump on trade, he added.

The Business Roundtable counts 192 CEOs from the country’s largest companies among its membership. Business leaders have generally applauded Trump’s promise to slash tax rates and loosen regulation, though some are concerned that his threats to raise import tariffs and shirk free trade deals could fan inflation.

Dimon is among leaders who have previously supported the Transpacific Trade Partnership with Pacific Rim nations, and the Business Roundtable has traditionally advocated for free trade.

While announcing Bolten’s appointment, Dimon said he was nevertheless optimistic that good public policy would drive lasting economic growth.

“This will fuel job creation, raise the standard of living and position the country to invest in education, technology and infrastructure in a programmatic and sustainable way to build a better and safer future,” Dimon said. “The leaders of our business community have a responsibility to lead this effort, and our approach must appeal to both parties and all Americans.”

Bolten will succeed John Engler, who last month cited the chairman transition to Dimon as an opportunity to solidify his own retirement plans. Engler said he was prepared to stay in the CEO position until July to ensure a smooth transition process, indicating the organization has chosen to act swiftly with the new appointment.


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