Biden advisers, Trump to discuss competing economic visions with top US business leaders

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By Gram Slattery

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and key advisers to Democratic President Joe Biden will lay out their dramatically divergent economic views in a series of conversations with America’s top business leaders on Thursday.

Trump is due to speak to the Business Roundtable at the group’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., at approximately 11 a.m. local time (1500 GMT), according to two sources familiar with the event’s planning. The association of more than 200 CEOs will also host Jeff Zients, Biden’s White House chief of staff, earlier in the morning, those people said.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, meanwhile, will address the Economic Club of New York at 12:30 p.m., where she will discuss “expanding the U.S. economy’s productive capacity,” according to a Treasury Department statement.

It was not immediately clear what message Trump or Zients planned to deliver to the Business Roundtable, which counts Wall Street heavyweights including JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman as members.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and Citigroup Chief Executive Jane Fraser are among those attending, according to three sources, who requested anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

Conservative commentator Larry Kudlow, who served as a key economic adviser during Trump’s 2017 to 2021 term, will interview the former president during the event, one of the people said.

Biden and Trump, who are locked in a tight race five months before the Nov. 5 election, disagree on a number of major economic issues.

Biden has made protecting the environment a core part of his economic plans. His administration has, for instance, created a series of incentives for the purchase and use of electric vehicles, and in January his administration paused approvals for applications to export liquefied natural gas from new projects.

Trump, while at times light on specifics, has attacked measures meant to hasten the transition of the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels and has repeatedly claimed that electric vehicles do not work.

While in office, Trump cut the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Biden has proposed increasing the top rate for large corporations to 28%, below historic levels, but above the current figure.

BUSINESS TITANS RETURN TO TRUMP

Both men have broadly used tariffs to protect U.S. industry, though Trump’s proposals – which include putting a 10% duty on all imports – are far more extreme than those of his rival.

“President Trump’s America First economic program will deliver middle class tax cuts, record-setting regulation cuts, fair trade, abundant energy, low inflation, better wages and a restoration of the rule of law in America,” said Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt.

The White House declined to comment on the content of Zients’ address. Biden is in Italy for a G7 summit, where he is slated to sign a new security agreement with Ukraine.

While in Washington, Trump is also slated to speak to Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives at locations close to the U.S. Capitol. Those meetings are expected to focus on the policy priorities of a potential second Trump term.

The Business Roundtable routinely asks major party presidential candidates to address the group during election years. Even so, Trump’s appearance underlines how some in the business community have warmed to the former president after many companies distanced themselves from him and his supporters following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

In the weeks after the attack, many major corporations said they would no longer donate to federal politicians who denied the legitimacy of the 2020 vote, which Biden won, though many have since appeared to quietly walk back that pledge.

Business titans like Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone, have previously forsaken Trump, only to announce in this election cycle that they would support him after he easily dispatched his rivals in the Republican presidential nominating contest earlier this year.

(Reporting by Gram Slattery in Washington; Additional reporting by Saeed Azhar and Tatiana Bautzer in New York, Steve Holland, Jeff Mason, David Lawder and David Morgan in Washington and Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut, editing by Deepa Babington; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Deepa Babington)

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