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Play Video Watch Highlights of Donald Trump’s Meeting with Business Leaders Taxes were a big part of the conversation Donald Trump For CEOs, Donald Trump’s Deregulation Pitch Comes With One Huge Caveat Geoff Colvin 10:10 AM CST Business leaders face a new daily task: deciding how deeply to discount what Donald Trump says. For example, his repeated promises to release his tax returns should have been discounted 100%, as we learned yesterday. On the other hand, his pledges to shred the Trans-Pacific Partnership should have been discounted 0%, as we also learned yesterday. The hardest part of this task is deciding how to discount assertions that are bold yet subject to interpretation, like his statement yesterday to a dozen CEOs that “I think we can cut regulation by 75%, maybe more.” Making this statement particularly tough to decode is the uncertain meaning of “regulation.” Business people are generally in favor of reducing it, but if they think Trump means reducing Washington’s interference in their business, they may be disappointed. Evidence is accumulating that while Trump may eliminate some written rules governing business, he may replace them with unwritten rules known only to him and subject to his moods and whims.
For example, yesterday he told the CEOs in the White House—including #Tesla ’s Elon Musk, #UnderArmour ’s Kevin Plank, #Ford ’s Mark Fields, and #DellTechnologies ’ Michael Dell—“When you have a company here, you have a plant here.” No such rule exists anywhere in law or regulation—many U.S. companies quite legally outsource all their production—yet it’s now effectively a new regulation, a dictate from the president himself. Ironically, Trump even told the room that keeping operations and jobs in the U.S. was part of the price they must pay for less regulation. But is less regulation really the result?

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