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Business Euphoria Over Trump Gives Way To Caution And Confusion

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Business Euphoria Over Trump Gives Way To Caution And Confusion

Business, Trump

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Early optimism among business lobbyists and executives that Donald Trump’s election heralded better days has slowly given way to uncertainty as the president-elect fires off mixed and sometimes confusing messages on healthcare, taxes, and trade.

An initial euphoria in the business world fueled a powerful post-election stock rally. Some of that has frayed as questions arise over the nuts and bolts of Trump’s campaign promises, although many in the business community said they remain optimistic.

Doubts deepened over the weekend as Trump declared he would replace President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare plan known as Obamacare with “insurance for everybody” – a goal far beyond Republican designs – and criticized a key component of a plan in Congress to overhaul corporate taxes.

“It is fair to say that since the election, there has been mounting uncertainty about exactly what the specific policies are likely to be with regard to tax reform and replacing Obamacare,” a financial industry official said.

Expectations for faster growth, tax reform, and a quick repeal of Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, have “given way to ‘We are not really sure what he means by that’,” the official said.

A veteran Republican financial lobbyist said she is under constant pressure from clients to predict what the new administration is planning, but she has no reliable answers for them.


Trump appears to have thrown a wrench into Republican plans to repeal Obamacare with mixed signals on the details and timing of a replacement plan.

Congressional Republicans have focused on limiting government involvement in the healthcare system and eliminating the law’s individual mandate that forces people to have insurance.

But Trump told the Washington Post he was almost done with a plan to replace Obamacare with “insurance for everybody” while forcing drug companies to negotiate directly with the government on prices for Medicare and Medicaid.

Trump’s recent attack on the border adjustment tax was another sign of his unpredictability, the veteran financial lobbyist said.

That measure would tax imports and exempt exports in an effort to encourage companies to keep jobs and production in the United States. But in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Friday, Trump called the proposal “too complicated.”

“Anytime I hear border adjustment, I don’t love it,” Trump told the Journal. “Because usually it means we’re going to get adjusted into a bad deal. That’s what happens.”

Chris Krueger, an analyst at the investment firm Cowen and Co, said Trump’s comments to the newspaper about the border adjustment proposal were “breathtaking.”

“Trump is like a policy bull who seems to bring his own china shop with him to destroy it with every interview,” Krueger wrote in a research note.

Lobbyists said the Trump transition team’s lack of interest in their input was clear in the last two weeks as it summoned trade groups to daily “listening sessions” at the American Enterprise Institute think tank. The agriculture, financial, transportation, and tech industries are among the sectors that got a one-hour session, according to participants.


In the sessions, Wall Street lobbyists were encouraged to talk fast: a giant television screen overhead counted down two minutes of allotted time.

“It was a goat rodeo. We all got a couple minutes to speak. What can you really say in that time?” said another financial services lobbyist. “They wanted to check the box – ‘We’re listening to Wall Street’. But who even knows where these transition people will be in a few days?”

Lobbyists also have been alarmed that the transition team has not included them in preparations for confirmation hearings for many nominated Cabinet officials, including potential Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“If you want someone to explain how Elizabeth Warren can hammer you 12 different ways, ask a lobbyist,” said the financial services lobbyist, referring to the Massachusetts senator who is a frequent critic of Wall Street.

Even Trump’s website sowed confusion about his intentions. A promise to dismantle the Dodd-Frank regulatory reforms was removed at the end of last year and has not been replaced. A Trump spokesperson blamed a redesign, but bank lobbyists are not so sure – other content made it through the redesign.

Some companies have been reassured by Trump’s Cabinet nominees, who are seen as more predictable and supportive of the business establishment than the impulsive president-elect.

Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, has deep differences on values with the technology sector, but is seen as an important Trump counterweight because he is a “deliberate decision-maker not prone to big dramatic mood swings,” a source at one major Silicon Valley firm said.

Many lobbyists and business officials said they remain optimistic and cautioned against reading too deeply into tweets or comments that Trump makes on policy.

“If Obama or Bush opined on a policy … most of Washington assumed that raising that question was a well-vetted intentional decision to send a signal,” a senior U.S. Chamber of Commerce official said.

Trump, by contrast, may simply be raising policy issues because he has questions on them, the chamber official said.

The same financial industry official who acknowledged the uncertain climate also said he remains optimistic.

“There were a lot of candidates who were interviewed. There were names floated out there and … it was kind of a chaotic process,” the official said, referring to the process of picking candidates to fill Cabinet and other administration positions. “But overall, I think one can make the observation that in making the final selections, Trump has shown … a very surprising even-handedness.”

(Additional reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley and Dustin Volz; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Bill Rigby)

IMAGE: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks to diplomats and guests at the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) Chairman’s Global Dinner in Washington, U.S. January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst



  1. elw January 18, 2017

    Oh just wait, if they are cautious and confused now, they will be horrified after the charlatan is sworn in. You get what you vote for.

    1. Thoughtopsy January 18, 2017

      Right there with you.

    2. itsfun January 19, 2017

      I hope we get what we voted for.

      1. Karen_in_KC January 19, 2017

        I hope you do too!

  2. FF January 19, 2017

    The words “Trump and even-handedess” do not belong in the same sentence.

  3. I of John January 19, 2017

    Trump will the POTUS no one will listen too. A dangerous thing for the world.

    1. itsfun January 19, 2017

      Right that goes for Carrier, Ford, Fiat, GM, IBM, and all the other companies now making jobs in American and not in Mexico. I have to believe they all are listening to him and like what they are hearing.

  4. The lucky one January 19, 2017

    “It is fair to say that since the election, there has been mounting uncertainty about exactly what the specific policies are likely to be with regard to tax reform and replacing Obamacare,” a financial industry official said.

    Yeah, well isn’t that nature of a loose cannon, to create havoc within it’s own vessel. this should not be surprising to anyone.

    1. dbtheonly January 19, 2017

      As was said of a better President, “The man is pure act.”

      But I doubt that Despicable Donald is aware of the havoc his actions and reactions are having.

  5. Dominick Vila January 19, 2017

    Like he acknowledged, he is unpredictable. To say that his plans to replace the ACA are a mystery is an under statement. His comments range from a suggestion of universal healthcare as a replacement, to increasing ACA funding to increase subsidies, reduce deductibles, and increase remuneration to insurance companies and service providers. Interestingly, none of his proposals involve rejecting the ACA on the basis of being a socialist programs, or eliminating protections such as ending the pre-existing condition clause, ending coverage for dependent children until age 26, or making it unnecessary for seniors to sell everything they have to pay for the medical care they need to stay alive or live a healthy life. With that in mind, what happened to the claims of evil socialism? What happened to the allegations that the ACA was a failed government program? How can a President embrace the essence of the ACA, propose increase in government funding, expand the scope of the ACA, and claim it is a failed socialist program?

  6. johninPCFL January 20, 2017

    The best discussion of Agent Orange actually was written decades ago in the book “Catch 22”.

    “It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.” — Joseph Heller, Catch-22


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