It was a probably unintentionally revealing moment for White House economic adviser Gary Cohn.
Cohn was being interviewed at a Wall Street Journal CEO Conference yesterday. Obviously, the tax bill was top on the list of questions. At one point, WSJ Associate Editor John Bussey turned to the audience, most of whom were from the corner office, and asked them if a tax cut would make them invest more.
1. Tax-overhaul backers say corporate rate cut will encourage investment by businesses
2. During #wsjceocouncil interview with Gary Cohn, WSJ asks CEOs to raise hands if they'll boost investment if rates cut
3. Few CEOS raise hands
4. Cohn asks: "Why aren't the other hands up?" pic.twitter.com/5PI60NlW0A
— Tim Hanrahan (@TimJHanrahan) November 14, 2017
Why aren’t the other hands up? Well, there are a whole lot of reasons, because business is complicated. But we’d be remiss not to mention that the entire premise of the corporate tax cuts, according to congressional Republicans and the White House, is that companies will spend more on wages, hiring, investing in facilities in the U.S. and so on. Then that money will trickle down to workers.
That is, unless CEOs decide not to invest more.
We talked with Kevin Hassett, another White House economist, for quite a while earlier this month and couldn’t sum up that point any better than these few seconds of tape.