The NewCo Daily: Today’s Top Stories
Why Tech Leaders Are Trooping Trumpward Again
“Tech Week” for the Trump administration begins today — although if the effort to set a policy agenda is as ineffectual as the recent “Infrastructure Week,” this might be the last thing you hear about it. Tech CEOs — many of the same faces who trooped to Trump Tower last December, including Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Alphabet/Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt, and a host of others (but no one, apparently, from Facebook) — are gathering at the White House under the auspices of Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner’s American Technology Council (Tony Romm in Recode).
This week, Kushner is slated to bring peace to the Middle East while he also interviews a bevy of lawyers to protect him from the widening net of the Russian election-interference investigation. So he might be a little busy. But the Tech Week agenda is packed too, with issues like modernizing gov tech, cyber-security, and high-skilled immigration. Cook and others will reportedly also raise the topics of privacy and human rights (Axios). We’ll see how far that gets.
The grandees of tech are continuing down their path of engagement with Trump despite its failure to date to make any kind of difference in the administration’s anti-globalist, anti-trade, anti-net-neutrality, and anti-environment policies — most glaringly, they were unable to sway the president not to ditch the Paris climate accord. Their continued willingness to sit down with Trump despite the discontent among so many of their workers, their customers, and their investors might be the result of simple fear. As Mike Allen reports in Axios, “The Bannon wing of the White House would like to take on the lords of the Valley now over outsourcing, the concentration of wealth and their control over our data and lives.”
This potential for an anti-tech-giant backlash remains a potent force across the political spectrum. You’re as likely to hear such sentiments from Sanders Democrats as from Trump supporters. If Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon really are monopolies, as most recently argued by Rana Foroohar in the Financial Times, then the implicit threat of antitrust action will help keep the companies’ leaders at the White House table.
Maybe these treks to the White House are worth the effort for more idealistic reasons, too, as Code For America’s Jen Pahlka argues (The Washington Post): Everyone ought to benefit from a government run on better, more efficient systems. But if the meetings keep overdelivering photo opps while underdelivering results, their participants will look less like power players and more like stooges.