I’m a centrist who supports both Republican and Democrat values. I’m fiscally conservative, pro-business, pro-women’s rights, civil rights proponent, infrastructure supporter, advocate for consolidated city and county government and pro-public education, post high school vocational/technical/trade and higher education training.
If given a force choice edict to pick one principle that represents me, push-come-to-shove, it would be pro-business. Why? At age 69 with 45 years of marketing experience I’ve observed, regardless whether we have a good or bad mayor, governor or president, we either thrive, or not, because of the business sector.
Business is the name of the game because 87 percent of America’s Gross Domestic Product depends upon the success or failure of our business sector. The government sector makes up the remaining 13 percent.
This prologue brings me to today’s Op Ed. I’m worried about the direction our 45th president is taking us, especially as a pro-business value laden person, for four reasons.
First, since Jan. 20, our 45th president has desired a weaker currency and declared the dollar “is getting too strong.” He recently told The Wall Street Journal he likes “a dollar that’s not too strong and lots of bad things happen with a strong dollar.”
I applaud Trump for promising to boost American exports, create jobs and broaden our prosperity. But, a weak dollar runs counter to these three goals. A weaker dollar harms America’s competitiveness, it raise prices, curtails job creation and depletes workers’ earnings and savings. A weak dollar does not work in theory or in practice. The conservative The Wall Street Journal concluded “unless Mr. Trump changes course, it sounds like the path to a one-term presidency.”
Secondly, uncertainty over the president’s agenda and his habit of publicly berating business leaders is causing firms to be more cautious and defensive. As David Kotok of Cumberland Advisors said, “when businesses are dealing with a series of unknowns (e.g., uncertain FY 2018 budget, raising the nation’s debt ceiling, no specific tax reform plan, obscure infrastructure proposal, health care reform, size of military expansion in Afghanistan, immigration reform, workforce development policy, etc.), the natural instinct of decision-makers like CEO’s is to defer decisions.” Deferring decisions means not hiring new workers and/or expanding inventory, which slows down the economy.
Third, when Mr. Trump reacted the way he did after a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville in early August, never explicitly scolding racist white supremacists at first blush, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. As a result, a number of companies whose representative purposely resigned from Trump’s Manufacturing Council and also walked away from his Strategy and Policy Forum include: 3M, Boeing, Campbell Soup, Disney, General Electric, General Motors, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase, Merck, Pepsi-Co, Tesla, Uber, Under Armour, United Technologies and Wal-Mart. Companies greatly value diversity in the workplace, embrace civil rights and can ill afford to make their customers, employees and stockholders unhappy by even remotely supporting our 45th president’s decorum.
Fourth, political rifts between Trump, business leaders, Republican-controlled Congress and the electorate have magnified investor doubts regarding the administration’s ability to accomplish its agenda, in particular the tax cuts they had anticipated would boost corporate profits. Investors are running out of reasons to keep buying U.S. stocks.
When CEO’s from the largest companies and Main Street business owners, Republican legislators and investors are bolting away from Trump’s presidency, plus earlier cited evidence Trump doesn’t understand America needs a “strong dollar,” I’m worried. The anxiety, fear, trepidation, consternation, dismay and apprehension you hear from the business world is for real.
We are at an economic, let alone political, tipping point not seen since 1776.
Steve Corbin is Professor Emeritus of Marketing, University of Northern Iowa, and a 1966 graduate of Nevada High School.