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Working with President Trump – A Path Forward

Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)
Many of us woke up today distraught and bewildered after a contentious, bruising presidential campaign ended with a surprising victory for Donald Trump. But as Americans we respect democracy, and the voters have spoken. We will have a peaceful transition of power, and I hope Mr. Trump’s gracious and unifying speech early this morning will ring true these next four years.
As a person who always tries to see the bright side of any situation, here’s how I see the tech community working with the Trump administration and the 115th Congress:
1.Trump’s victory is an opportunity for pro-business policies.
Along with a Republican-controlled Senate, President-elect Trump will work with the business community to strip excess regulation and promote innovation. He’ll appoint pro-business regulators and Supreme Court nominees. And he’ll freeze and roll back overbearing rules that hurt business, such as the Department of Labor’s Overtime Rule, which would double the overtime floor from $23,660 to $47,476 per year, leaving virtually no flexibility for startups. The House of Representatives voted to delay the rule’s Dec. 1 implementation. Hopefully, President-elect Trump will quash this rule for good.
On the other hand, I expect status quo industries that rely on political contributions to preserve monopoly profits – such as the drug, oil, solar and taxicab industry – may be in trouble, if Trump makes good on his campaign promise to “drain the swamp.”
2.Trump and the new Congress should cut deals on immigration and patent reform.
America’s broken system must be fixed for the good of our economy. This year, for the fourth consecutive year, the U.S. maxed out its H-1B visa cap in just five business days – we must increase this cap. Trump has called for more high-skilled immigration, and we may actually see movement on stand-alone highly skilled immigration legislation in his administration. There’s also a chance we can make progress on patent reform, in order to protect small businesses and startups from patent troll extortion. Patent trolls drain $80 billion from the U.S. economy every year, and 80 percent of troll victims are small- and medium-sized businesses.
3.Trump can cut corporate taxes, invest in infrastructure and stimulate the economy.
We have the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world and this forces our companies to park billions overseas. Trump, and willing Democrats like incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, could agree that this money could be repatriated at a reduced rate with the money being targeted toward say infrastructure bank or directly to the treasury for infrastructure investment.
4.Trump could cut the deficit and stabilize entitlements.
Government spending is out of control. The U.S. debt is nearing $20 trillion. With a normalized five percent interest rate, that’s $1 trillion dollars annually in interest payments. We’re putting a debt yoke on our children. The Congressional Budget Office reported this week that in 2016 the deficit rose to $587 billion, up $148 billion in one year. Trump can take steps to balance the budget by reining in disability payments, cutting foolish ethanol and sugar subsidies, allowing drugs to be bought from Canada, cutting corporate subsidies and abandoning expensive government programs. He could start by simply pushing through the Obama-created bipartisan deficit commission findings.
5.On trade, we face challenges.
A president cannot easily impose new tariffs or abandon congressionally approved treaties. So, we can hope to maintain the status quo when it comes to trade agreements. But Trump’s election does not bode well for the Trans-Pacific Partnership or other agreements. More, his policies could harm U.S. companies that manufacture abroad. Consumer Technology Association (CTA) polling shows strong voter support for free trade: 70 percent of voters say trade agreements keep consumer prices low and strengthen the country’s global leadership. And a majority of voters from both parties (75 of percent Democrats, 69 percent of Republicans) favor the benefits of trade agreements.
The U.S. is greater than any president. And it’s possible with lower corporate taxes and a rollback of restricting rules, our economy could grow in a Trump administration. The president-elect clearly tapped into an underlying anxiety among a large portion of the American public. We believe that by working together, we can pursue public policies that promote innovation, which will create jobs and grow our economy.
As one who advocates that we embrace change, I will try to lead by example, keeping an open mind about what we can accomplish in these next four years. And CTA will stick to its principles and refocus our strategy to work with President-elect Trump and the 115th Congress.