- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

All hail the Mr. Bigs of America — the CEOs, the dealmakers, the chairmen, the presidents. While Democrats dither over President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet choices and the breadth of his business holdings, a new reality is slowly but surely taking over. The White House and America itself appear destined to become a haven for smart business. Consider that 20 of the nation’s uber-CEOs plan to gather with Mr. Trump in the nation’s capital for a meeting of the mighty.

They will assemble at the White House the first week of February, and they will go under this august name: “The President’s Strategy and Policy Forum.” So step aside here, folks. Mr. Trump is drawing the talent from a veritable pantheon of business leaders. Names on the rarefied roster include Elon Musk, chairman and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla; Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo; Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of General Motors; Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Co.; Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.; and Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric. The group’s chairman is Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO and co-founder of Blackstone, an asset management firm that has $361 billion of those assets and 300,000 employees.

They are not there to posture. The 16 members of the forum are expected to give private sector insight on how government policy impacts economic growth, job creation, and productivity in a “frank, nonbureaucratic, and non-partisan manner,” according to the Trump transition team.

“This forum brings together CEOs and business leaders who know what it takes to create jobs and drive economic growth,” says Mr. Trump himself. “My administration is committed to drawing on private sector expertise and cutting the government red tape that is holding back our businesses from hiring, innovating, and expanding right here in America.”


Anxious Democrats already are considering who should run for president in four years. A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that 57 percent of them want their candidate to be under the age of 60, while 77 percent insist their candidate to be under 70. Only a quarter want someone who already has run for the White House on the ballot again. Of course, there’s irony.

“The top two choices of Democrats for 2020 at this very early stage are people in their 70s who have run for president before,” points out polling director Tom Jensen.

Yes, well. Vice President Joe Biden led the ballot with 31 percent of the vote, followed by 24 percent for Sen. Bernard Sanders, and 16 percent for Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Those with under 5 percent of the vote each include Sens. Cory Booker, Al Franken, Kirsten Gillibrand and Sherrod Brown, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.



Kanye West in a tweet following his sudden but cordial meeting Tuesday with President-elect Donald Trump. The performer had announced earlier this year that he planned to run for the White House in 2020.

“I feel it is important to have a direct line of communication with our future President if we truly want change,” Mr. West, 39, noted in a companion tweet.


“What do we know about foreign hacking into the U.S. election? Quite a lot, actually, even if we don’t have a parking pass at CIA headquarters. But there is also a lot of confusion. Call it the ‘fog of cyberwar.’ The fog comes from several sources,” writes Charles Lipson, a University of Chicago political science professor and contributor to Real Clear Politics.

“Only snippets of information have been disclosed. No public investigations have been held, though some certainly will be. The CIA and FBI seem to have reached different conclusions, and the director of national intelligence has not adjudicated them. Donald Trump has rejected the idea that Russia was trying to help him get elected,” Mr. Lipson continues. “And Democrats, seeking to blame anyone but themselves for their losses, have stressed Russia’s role. Some dead-enders have even said Russian interference invalidates the election results. It’s time to clarify what we know so we can figure out what to do next.”

Should there be a “deep dive,” as President Obama suggested to ferret out the truth?

“A serious investigation should not be an excuse for denying the outcome of the 2016 election or for saying it was rigged by a foreign power. The election is over, and Hillary Clinton’s loss cannot be attributed to Russian interference,” says Mr. Lipson, who recommends that Congress be left out the effort because their work is typically “shallow, backward-looking, and filled with partisan grandstanding” and a full agenda dealing with health care, tax reform, a Supreme Court nominee and other pressing matters.

The professor is more partial to a low-key bipartisan investigation modeled after the 9/11 Commission, with subpoena power and input from the intelligence community.

“Its mission should be more than pinning the tail on the Russian bear. It should be highlighting areas of vulnerability at the heart of our democracy: the right to free, fair elections,” advises Mr. Lipson.


She was an on-air correspondent for MSNBC, then The Huffington Post. Now she’s at Fox News. That would be Abby Huntsman, daughter of former presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman, who only last week was on the short list to become secretary of state. Ms. Huntsman, 30, debuts Saturday as the co-host of “Fox & Friends Weekend” — with an emphasis on entertainment, politics and sports.

“Abby’s energetic reporting and ability to connect with our viewers make her a great addition on the curvy couch,” observes Suzanne Scott, executive vice president of programming for the network.


84 percent of U.S. fund managers expect a higher global consumer price index in the next 12 months.

74 percent think companies are currently “underinvesting.”

57 percent expect the global economy to improve over the next year.

56 percent expect global corporate profits to improve in the next 12 months.

37 percent say the current global fiscal policy is “to restrictive.”

Source: A Bank of America/Merrill Lynch survey of 211 global fund money managers “representing $568 billion in assets” conducted Dec. 2-8.

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