By Alan Murray
February 9, 2017

Good morning.

Give Intel CEO Brian Krzanich some credit for how he’s navigating the era of Trump.

Intel has history with the new President. It came under criticism last year from Breitbart News—the alt-right media outlet of presidential adviser Steve Bannon—for announcing a layoff of 12,000 U.S.-based workers, even as it was requesting H-1B visas to bring in foreign professionals. Krzanich also cancelled a Trump fundraiser during the campaign. And Intel, run for decades by proud immigrant Andy Grove, is one of the companies that signed a brief opposing President Trump’s travel ban.

 

Yet yesterday, the Intel CEO was in the Oval Office, announcing that the company plans to finish a $7 billion chip factory in Chandler, Ariz., that will create 3,000 jobs. While it’s far from clear how much the decision had to do with the new President, Krzanich was happy to give him credit—as a sign of support for the “tax and regulatory policies that we see the administration pushing forward” that could mean a huge boost to the company’s bottom line.

This is the minuet that many CEOs are dancing these days—working to discourage administration moves on immigration and trade that hurt their company’s interests, while encouraging tax reform and regulatory relief that should raise profitability. They could hardly be expected to do anything else.

Yet the dance skirts the real jobs issue that the President and tech CEOs should be spending their time on: how to find real solutions to the continued disruption that’s coming, not from trade, but from technology. Tariffs, immigration restrictions, and Oval Office press conferences aren’t the answer.

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