"I've never seen CEOs spend so aggressively. They've benefited really dramatically from these tax cuts and also from the deregulation focus -- especially in the United States."
That's a quote, an important quote, from a tremendous business leader, Marc Benioff, from Salesforce.com (CRM) . I like the quote because it is apolitical. Benioff goes on to say companies are spending on "their own digital transformations."
Notice, he's not talking about them spending more on dividends and buybacks. He's not talking about them lining anyone's pockets. He's talking about the need to stay competitive and to use that money from the cuts and from a deregulation focus.
I find this refreshing, because there should be more business leaders talking about how the tax cuts and deregulation have helped their businesses. There's some sort of bizarre inability of CEOs to admit to either.
That's what makes it so stark to see it from someone who is not known to have classic conservative views about these matters.
Notice, Benioff's not making a judgment about what will happen to the budget deficit. He's not saying these things grudgingly. He's just stating the facts, period.
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What makes me think of this is that not too long ago, I had a discussion where I outlined exactly what Benioff said here. I meant nothing political about it.
I was savaged as a lightweight mindless supporter of the current regime. I didn't even know I was articulating a political point of view. I was just commenting on the incredible economic growth that is being spurred and that the money isn't going to where some claim it is going -- to the very rich who own stock.
Plus, I told my interlocutor I saluted the deregulatory atmosphere for all but the environment -- the latter of which, frankly, I find to be disturbing. I am not alone. I deal with a lot of utility execs and, believe me, they tend to agree.
I was ripped into as if I had said that I favor forming a black-lung, no-rainbow coalition.
Now when I read the stories about the quarter, I was struck that nobody seemed to hassle Marc on the facts. No one said that he was endorsing Trump. No one rushed to say "wait a second, you are wrong, all of that money is going to the rich people in buybacks and dividends and no one is spending to grow their enterprises." It was just put out there and accepted.
Could this be an opening to a more-sane discussion of the positives for U.S. business and not a referendum on the state of the polity.
I sure hope so.
The tax cuts and deregulation have made for a better business environment. What the businesses do with it, whether it's the 1-1-1- philanthropy that Salesforce encourages, or the growth to the enterprise -- certainly anything but mutually exclusive -- I find it refreshing. Let's hope others can speak of the better environment to digitize and grow using the newfound cash. And let's hope people like the fellow who attacked me for being some partisan hack when I was just acknowledging and saying exactly what Marc said, get the benign and positive message that I was excited about.