Trump pledges to slash taxes, regulations massively

Mr Trump holding a meeting at the White House yesterday with corporate chief executives, including (from far left) Corning's Mr Wendell Weeks, Johnson & Johnson's Mr Alex Gorsky, Dell's Mr Michael Dell and US Steel's Mr Mario Longhi. The meeting took
Mr Trump holding a meeting at the White House yesterday with corporate chief executives, including (from far left) Corning's Mr Wendell Weeks, Johnson & Johnson's Mr Alex Gorsky, Dell's Mr Michael Dell and US Steel's Mr Mario Longhi. The meeting took place before he signed a slew of executive orders to start rolling out his policy agenda.PHOTO: REUTERS

But he warns of imposing border tax on goods imported by firms that move jobs out of US

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump promised business leaders yesterday that he would cut taxes "massively" and slash regulations by 75 per cent.

He also warned the 12 corporate chief executive officers gathered at the White House that he would impose a "border tax" on goods imported by companies that move jobs out of the United States, reported Agence France-Presse.

"What we are doing is we are going to be cutting taxes massively for both the middle class and for companies, and that is massively," he said. "A bigger thing, and that surprised me, is the fact that we are going to be cutting regulation massively."

"We think we can cut regulations by 75 per cent, maybe more, but by 75 per cent," he added.

The CEOs at the meeting included Mr Mark Fields of Ford, Ms Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin, Mr Alex Gorsky of Johnson & Johnson and Mr Michael Dell of Dell, as well as SpaceX chief Elon Musk and Under Armour's Mr Kevin Plank.

Trump aides say the next few days will see a steady if not daily drip of executive actions designed to get back to Mr Trump's agenda.

Already there have been moves to roll back former president Barack Obama's healthcare reforms and freeze some regulations that are in the pipeline.

Mr Trump also said he is trying to get the business rate "down to anywhere from 15 to 20 per cent" from the current 35 per cent, reported NBC News.

The meeting took place shortly before he signed a slew of executive orders to start rolling out his policy agenda, after a tumultuous start put his administration on the back foot.

Since he was sworn in last Friday, the White House has been pilloried for disputing media reports on the size of crowds at his inauguration, and the President himself has been criticised for making a campaign-style speech before a memorial to fallen CIA officers.

Some two million Americans took to the streets last Saturday for women-led demonstrations, the scale of which was unseen in a generation, reported AFP.

Trump aides say the next few days will see a steady if not daily drip of executive actions designed to get back to Mr Trump's agenda.

Already, there have been moves to roll back former president Barack Obama's healthcare reforms and freeze some regulations that are in the pipeline.

Mr Trump yesterday signed an executive order for the US to formally withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact.

In an Oval Office ceremony, he also signed an order imposing a federal hiring freeze and a directive banning US non-governmental organisations receiving federal funding from providing abortions abroad, reported Reuters.

He was due to sign another executive order on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) yesterday as well.

He spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi by telephone yesterday, a day after he spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A pledge to move the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has been put on the back burner for now.

More executive orders are expected on immigration and limiting environmental legislation. But more substantive changes will need buy-in from the Republican-controlled Congress.

Mr Trump was scheduled to host separate meetings with unions and members of both Houses of Congress yesterday, and would also meet House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Tax reform was likely to be high on the agenda, which would also likely include reform of Mr Obama's healthcare laws. Mr Trump has publicly promised that none of the tens of millions of Americans who obtained health insurance under Mr Obama will lose it. That makes any meaningful changes difficult to pay for.

But the more urgent task for Mr Trump may be to keep sceptical Republicans on board the "Trump train". His approval rating is around 40 per cent, according to the RealClearPolitics average - low for a president just starting out. That could make legislators think twice about toeing his line.

But Mr Trump's bare-knuckle style has also kept dissent in check, with some fearing they will be the object of a presidential tweet that sets off a world of political pain.

Meanwhile, a group of prominent constitutional and ethics lawyers sued Mr Trump yesterday, accusing him of violating the US Constitution by allowing his hotels and other businesses to accept payments from foreign governments.

White House director of strategic communications Hope Hickshas insisted that the President has no conflicts. She referred NBC News on Sunday night to Ms Sheri Dillon, a lawyer who told a news conference on Jan 11 that "no one would have thought when the Constitution was written that paying your hotel bill was an emolument".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2017, with the headline 'Trump pledges to slash taxes, regulations massively'. Print Edition | Subscribe