Polls released early this week showed Donald Trump’s approval rating dropping to just 39%, a historic low for what is supposed to be a Presidential honeymoon period, and apparently the nations CEOs are among them. A recent CNN Money poll asked CEOs, usually steadfast supporters of Republican administrations, to rate the Trump Presidency on a report card scale.
The results were shocking. 50 percent of CEOs polled gave Trump an ‘F’ grade. 21 Percent were slightly more generous, giving the new President a ‘D.’ Perhaps even more appalling, only 1 percent of those polled said the President deserved an A grade for his first 5 months in office.
The results don’t appear to be for a lack of trying. Trump’s proposed tax reform plan would give enormous tax breaks to the very wealthy and businesses, even larger than those granted under the Reagan administration. Likewise, the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) as written in the House of Representatives would equate to a $765 billion tax cut for wealthy individuals. Mr. Trump has also called for a gutting of the Dodd-Frank act, unravelling the consumer protection and regulatory framework put in place following the 2008 financial crisis.
Despite all of these business friendly measures, Trump has failed to secure the confidence of the business community. CEOs cite 3 A.M. tweetstorms and scandalous diversions that limit the administration from enacting its agenda. This including the President perplexingly calling the AHCA, which he campaigned for and celebrated in the Rose Garden, a “mean” bill this week.
“This was not a granola-eating crowd of Democrat entrepreneurs. It’s a cross-section of the business community, including some who are quite pro-Trump,” said Jerry Sonnenfield, a Yale School of Management professor.
The lack of support should be of concern to the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress. While businesses leaders will surely continue to be one of the more conservative cohorts in the country, they may shift their large political donations towards Democrats in 2018 in beyond. We’ve seen this shifting of campaign contributions in the past, most notably during the Bill Clinton era, when Democrats emerged as a business friendly party.
If the Trump administration, which thus far has shown itself largely incapable of political maneuvering to get bills passed through Congress, doesn’t find its sea legs soon it could endanger the entire party. In a few months, Republicans will have to turn their focus to the 2018 midterms, which could move vulnerable Republicans away from Trump as they fight for reelection. Judging by Mr. Trump’s behavior, no one has told him that.