Updated Jun 11, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden, Trump to make dueling pitches to big business

Photo illustration of President Biden speaking from a podium made of a dollar bill.

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden and Trump camps will engage in a long-distance economic showdown on Thursday, as both sides try to sell corporate America on their vision for 2025 and beyond.

Driving the news: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will defend President Biden's approach at the Economic Club of New York, where she'll argue that tax cuts for the wealthy and deregulation for big business aren't the best ways to grow the economy.

  • That same day, former President Trump will make his case to executives at the Business Roundtable in Washington, D.C.

Zoom in: Yellen could have a difficult task.

Yellen's New York speech will amount to a public rebuttal of Trump's pitch.

  • The dueling events are part of an escalating fight between Biden and Trump over which candidate would be better for business' bottom line — and America's overall economic health.
  • Trump is loudly and proudly calling for lower corporate taxes and less regulation. He's also pledging to work with specific industries, such as oil and gas companies, to dismantle Biden's green agenda.

Biden, who be in Italy for a G7 summit, is relying on White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients to make the in-person argument to the Business Roundtable, whose members include the CEOs of most leading U.S. companies.

Between the lines: In New York, Yellen will give a status report on what she calls "modern supply side economics," which relies on public spending to help attract private investment in crucial industries.

  • "Traditional supply side economics wrongly assumes that policies such as tax cuts for those at the top and deregulation will fuel growth and prosperity for the nation at large," Yellen will say, according to prepared remarks obtained by Axios.
  • "It's been clear to President Biden and me that our economic strategy cannot be driven by either the public or private sector alone," Yellen will say.
  • "We will continue to partner with American businesses."

The intrigue: Some prominent CEOs — including Blackstone's Steve Schwarzman — are publicly embracing Trump, causing deep concern within the Democratic Party.

Zoom out: Trump has made his criticism of Biden's economy a cornerstone of his campaign, blaming him for record-high inflation and new mandates for electric vehicles.

  • The former president also has promised another round of across-the-board tax cuts — including for the business community, which saw its corporate rate drop from 35% to 21% in Trump's first term.
  • "Instead of a Biden tax hike, I'll give you a Trump middle-class, upper-class, lower-class, business-class big tax cut," Trump told supporters in Wildwood, N.J., last month.
  • "President Trump is focused on rebuilding an economy where hardworking Americans can once again live the American Dream, and he understands business leaders have an important role to play in that effort," said Karoline Leavitt, a Trump campaign spokesperson.

Go deeper: The White House has launched a campaign to improve its relations with CEOs, looking for feedback as the election approaches.

  • Biden's team also knows it has a perception problem on the economy, with more than half of Americans saying (wrongly) that the U.S. is in recession.
  • Meanwhile, corporate America is bracing for a big tax fight in 2025, when some of Trump's tax cuts expire.
  • In all of his budgets, Biden has been clear that he wants to find more revenue from corporations to help lower the deficit.
  • But the Biden administration wants to shift the conversation away from a simple question of which candidate will lower their overall tax exposure.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include details on Yellen's plans to meet with Effron and Gallogly.

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