article by Daniel Miller, LA Times
Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger has been named to a new policy forum created by President-elect Donald Trump.
The President’s Strategic and Policy Forum includes several business heavyweights, among them JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra and IBM Chief Executive Virginia Rometty.
The nonpartisan, 16-person forum will be chaired by Stephen Schwarzman, the chief executive of private equity firm Blackstone. The group will frequently meet with Trump to directly offer its knowledge and perspective to the president, according to a news release issued by Trump’s transition team on Friday.
“My administration is committed to drawing on private sector expertise and cutting the government red tape that is holding back our businesses from hiring, innovating, and expanding right here in America,” Trump said in a statement.
The forum’s first meeting will be held in February at the White House.
“The forum provides a nonpartisan approach to key economic policy issues, reflecting an array of individual perspectives from a cross-section of industries,” Iger said in a statement. “I welcome the chance to be part of the important discussions about the most effective ways to grow jobs and expand economic opportunity in America.”
Iger, a Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton, won’t be the only Hollywood player offering counsel to Trump. His incoming administration will include executives with deep ties to the entertainment industry.
On Nov. 13, Trump picked Stephen K. Bannon as his chief strategist. Bannon worked in Hollywood in the 1990s, helping to finance films including Sean Penn’s “The Indian Runner.” Bannon also was previously the executive chairman of Breitbart News, and both he and that news organization have been vociferously criticized by groups such as the Anti-Defamation League for promoting white nationalism.
And on Wednesday, Trump selected Hollywood financier and Wall Street executive Steven Mnuchin to be the next Treasury secretary. Mnuchin spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs before starting a hedge fund that invests in films. He has cut large financing deals with 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros., leading to his executive producing credits on movies such as the summer hit “Suicide Squad.”
Iger was asked how the Trump administration might affect Burbank-based Disney during a conference call with analysts held two days after the Nov. 8 election.
“I think it’s really too early to speculate about what the changes in Washington are going to mean for our business or for businesses,” he said on the call held to discuss the company’s fiscal fourth quarter earnings.
Iger, however, noted that Disney has made an effort to encourage the federal government to look at tax policy — and has sought the closing of loopholes and also the lowering of the corporate tax rate.
“We are no longer competitive with the rest of the world in that regard and that must be addressed,” he said. “It’s possible that given what’s going on this week that that’s likely to be addressed sooner rather than later.”
He added that it was a “good thing” that the transition of power was off to a “fairly smooth start.”
Iger also said that a bust of Trump was being prepared for the Hall of Presidents attraction at Walt Disney World.