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Should it come as a surprise that not one chief executive among the Fortune 100 has donated money to Donald Trump's campaign?
That was the news reported by The Wall Street Journal over the weekend after tabulating the latest donation disclosures through August.
Mr. Trump's supporters trumpeted, excuse the pun, the lack of donations from the nation's largest companies as a badge of honor. Big business, they say, has failed the country, so why would their guy want its support?
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But the logic of this argument is backward. Mr. Trump has campaigned as a successful businessman, a brilliant negotiator and someone, as he said in his own words, who can "get along with people." He has contended that his economic policies will unleash unheard-of levels of growth — as much as 6 percent. He plans to lower corporate taxes, remove regulations and allow companies to repatriate cash held overseas. Together, these policies sound like a C.E.O.'s dream.
And yet here we are: Many of the most successful business people in the country refuse to support him — or do business with him, either.
This is not an opinion. In case there is any doubt, here is a list of companies that in the last two years have publicly severed or reduced business relationships with Mr. Trump, mostly over his inflammatory rhetoric: Macy's, Univision, Comcast's NBCUniversal, Serta, Disney's ESPN, the PGA of America, Nascar and Perfumania.
Those companies, which have customer bases that include broad swaths of the nation that ostensibly look like the electorate, all said some variation of what Macy's said: "In light of statements made by Donald Trump, which are inconsistent with Macy's values, we have decided to discontinue our business relationship with Mr. Trump."
As this column has noted previously, virtually no big United States banking institution has done new business with Mr. Trump in years, in part because of his history of bankruptcies and his penchant for litigation. During orientation for new employees, Goldman Sachs specifically used to use Mr. Trump as an example of the kind of prospective client to avoid.
Still, based on Mr. Trump's policies, you would think that companies like Apple or Nike, which have railed for lower taxes and are pining to bring tens of billions dollars stashed abroad back to the United States, would be kneeling at the altar of Mr. Trump. (Apple's and Nike's chief executives have contributed to Hillary Clinton.)
Granted, there are his views on immigration and trade, which aren't in sync with United States multinational companies that manufacture products abroad. But then again, Mrs. Clinton opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership too, so that doesn't provide much of a choice.
Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric's chief executive, who employed Mr. Trump on "The Apprentice" when G.E. owned NBC, was asked by Vanity Fair about him over the summer. "The Donald Trump that I had a chance to work with, I found to be fun to work with," he said. "The words? I can't reconcile with anything I believe in, or that I think the country stands for or that the company stands for."
By the way, this was Mr. Trump's reply last year to businesses that stopped doing business with him: "Macy's, NBC, Serta and Nascar have all taken the weak and very sad position of being politically correct even though they are wrong in terms of what is good for our country." (I should note here that I co-anchor "Squawk Box" on CNBC, which is a unit of NBCUniversal.)
In fairness, it is worth pointing out that only 11 C.E.O.s of the Fortune 100 donated to Hillary Clinton, according to The Journal. Mr. Trump does have support from some businessmen like Jack Welch, Carl C. Icahn and Wilbur Ross, among others.
But for a group that has historically leaned Republican, the absence of contributions is eye-opening, particularly since at least 19 of them gave to the other Republican candidates in the primaries.
There is a good reason, wholly unrelated to political correctness, that the business community has not rallied around Mr. Trump's economic plans. On its merits, that plan is expected to hurt the economy, according to nonpartisan economists. It is hard to find many serious economists, except a handful mostly advising his campaign, who say otherwise.
According to the Committee for a Responsible Budget, a nonpartisan think tank that includes a list of luminaries from both sides of the aisle, Mr. Trump's economic plan would add $5.3 trillion to our national debt. That compares with $200 billion as a result of Mrs. Clinton's plan.
"Both Clinton and Trump would increase the debt relative to current law— though Trump would increase it by an order of magnitude more, and Clinton's plan would slightly reduce deficits if we incorporated unspecified revenue from business tax reform," the committee wrote.
None of this column is meant to suggest that Mrs. Clinton's economic plan will usher in a new age of stupendous growth. It won't. It doesn't fully address the need for corporate tax reform, and it won't bring many companies out from under the regulatory morass that they suffer. It won't bring trillions of dollars back from abroad. Her plan is unlikely to pump up the economy much compared with the path that we are currently on. It is very possible some of her policy measures could even slow the economy.
And finally — again — there is the issue of trade. A centerpiece of Mr. Trump's economic agenda is renegotiating many of the country's trade agreements. In a new report published by his campaign, Mr. Trump's advisers suggest he would threaten, for example, to leave the World Trade Organization to get a better deal. "Without the U.S. as a member, there would not be much purpose to the W.T.O.," the advisers wrote.
There is no question that the country would be improved by better trade pacts, but Mr. Trump's risky approach could start a trade war that could be disastrous for the country's largest companies. And the uncertainty of the negotiations themselves could slow the economy and rattle our foreign neighbors; just look at the resignation of Mexico's minister of finance for helping bring Mr. Trump there to meet-and-greet with the Mexican president. Other countries will want to avoid similar situations in which they could look like they are caving in to Mr. Trump. (By the way, for those who say, "Who cares about what happens to big businesses that outsource anyway?" think about all the money in all those 401(k) plans that is invested in them.)
The Trump economic report cites the Business Roundtable, a lobbying group representing big business, and its complaints about regulatory burdens. The suggestion is that big business will back Mr. Trump, since he plans to reduce regulation. Yet it is hardly clear the Business Roundtable supports him. The organization has not endorsed either candidate, and its chief executive, John Engler, told The New York Times over the summer: "We're just on the opposite side of Trump on trade and immigration."
Mr. Trump, the self-described great negotiator, may brush aside the views of the country's leading business executives — but perhaps that is because he hasn't been able to strike a deal with them.