- President Trump’s economic task force became a series of four phone calls with 200 corporate leaders on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported.
- The president praised the calls, calling them “productive” in a Monday tweet.
- But some business leaders said they were invited at the last minute to participate, which triggered confusion about the productiveness of the calls.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump boasted over the past week about his impending announcement to launch a new task force focused on reopening the American economy.
But he has abandoned those plans, Bloomberg reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. He hosted a marathon series of phone calls with 200 corporate leaders on Wednesday instead.
Those calls included business leaders of some of the nation’s largest companies, such as Apple CEO Tim Cook, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon.
Trump praised the calls in a Wednesday tweet, calling them “very productive.”
—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2020
On Tuesday evening, the White House sent out a statement containing the names of scores of corporate leaders in various sectors of the economy.
“These bipartisan groups of American leaders will work together with the White House to chart the path forward toward a future of unparalleled American prosperity,” the statement said.
The list also included executives from Goldman Sachs, General Motors, and Exxon Mobil, as well as sports commissioners and former lawmakers. No Democratic lawmakers were slated to participate.
Bloomberg reported that some of the executives were invited to participate at the last minute, which triggered some confusion among them. The sheer size of the group could also make it difficult for a deep discussion of the trade-offs involved in reopening the economy before mass virus testing is available.
Read more: Billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya has reaped a 997% return since 2011. He shares his 3-part strategy for today’s coronavirus-hit market — and outlines how he’s mining real estate for opportunities.
The president had earlier bragged about the intellectual acumen of his planned task force.
“I’m going to surround myself with the greatest minds,” Trump said at a lengthy press conference on Friday. “We’re going to make a decision, and hopefully, it’s going to be the right decision.”
When he was asked which metrics he would use to determine when to roll back restrictions on economic activity, Trump said “the metrics right here” and pointed to his temple, NPR reported.
The Trump administration is eager to start resurrecting the American economy in May. Vast swaths of economic activity were shut down to curb the spread of the virus, prompting the loss of 17 million jobs over the past month.
But public-health experts say that reopening the economy too soon without a mass-testing program in place could be calamitous, as social-distancing measures have not been given enough time to stem the rate of infections.
Executives from the banking and financial-services sectors urged Trump in the first call to ramp up coronavirus testing to restore public confidence in the safety of their workplaces, The Wall Street Journal reported.