Skip to Content

CEOs Create a Moderate Super-Pac

Could the most divisive election in decades launch an era of cooperation in Washington? It sounds ridiculous and maybe it is, but a number of business leaders think it’s at least possible. I spoke with many of them on background yesterday at a meeting convened by No Labels, the nonpartisan organization founded to support compromise and the political center, fighting extremism in both parties. Here’s how a CEO explained the potential upside of the new Washington environment: “It’s a unique opportunity. Donald Trump’s agenda is not really a partisan agenda.” That is, he supports traditionally Republican and traditionally Democratic initiatives. “There will have to be new coalitions for each issue. Trump’s massive ego requires that he succeed. Hopefully, he’ll be willing to make deals that produce results on major issues.” I asked which issues. “Significant action on infrastructure and tax reform is achievable this year.”

CEOs hate hyper-partisanship because it makes their world much more uncertain. For example, when Democrats controlled Washington they enacted Obamacare without a single Republican vote; now Republicans hold control and are promising to repeal it. After the Democrats lost Senate control in 2014, President Obama governed heavily through executive orders, issuing many classified by the Congressional Budget Office as “having particular significant economic or social impact;” candidate Trump promised to rescind every one of those orders. Sudden, major policy reversals like these, which may themselves be reversed after the next election, throw sand in the gears of business.

That’s why hundreds of CEOs are supporting No Labels. One of its most important objectives is to protect moderate legislators in both parties from getting “primaried” – losing to more extreme candidates in primary elections, which disproportionately attract each party’s most extreme voters. Part of the No Labels strategy is simple: Give those moderate candidates money. The organization tested the concept this year, supporting moderate Democrat Darren Soto in Florida and moderate Republican Roger Marshall in Kansas, both of whom faced more extreme opponents in primaries, and in both cases the moderates won.

So this past weekend No Labels announced it was creating a $50-million super PAC to back centrist candidates in 2018, supported initially by four billionaires, including Trian Fund Management CEO Nelson Peltz, plus six other donors from both parties.

No Labels does more than fund candidates. Its conferences enable members of both parties to meet safely, which is not as easy as you might think. Legislators from both parties report that they sometimes have to meet with opponents secretly; they could pay a political price for merely talking to the other side.

The business leaders at yesterday’s conference are realists who don’t expect miracles. They want to do what they can to turn the partisan tide. Those I spoke with summed up their contribution to political cooperation this way: Give to the super PAC, and, as one of them said, “in every way possible” support “bipartisan amity.”

You can share Power Sheet with friends and followers here.

What We’re Reading Today

U.S. tries to reassure China…
…after President-elect Donald Trump‘s call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen last week, which irked Beijing; neither China nor the U.S. recognizes Taiwan as a separate country. Trump labeled it a courtesy call. BBC

Heads of Samsung and Hyundai testify… 
…in the South Korean parliament during an investigation of the political scandal threatening to topple President Park Geun-hye. The investigation focuses on whether Park or her confidant pressured conglomerates to fund certain foundations. Samsung Group leader Jay Lee said Park asked for support for culture and sports but didn’t mention money; Samsung donated over $17 million to two foundations supporting Park’s goals. Park faces an impeachment vote on Friday. Fortune

Lego CEO to step down
Jorgen Vig Knudstorp led Lego to become the world’s most profitable toymaker. Since 2004 he has reshaped how Lego makes products, developing research teams to study what children want. He will become chairman and will be succeeded by COO Bali Padda at year-end. Bloomberg

N.C. Governor McCrory concedes race
Pat McCrory‘s concession to Roy Cooper makes him the first North Carolina governor to lose reelection. He sparked strong opposition to his stance on LGBT rights and his handling of police brutality accusations. Washington Post

Building Better Leaders

CIOs want to use predictive analytics… 
…but don’t have enough data, or the needed data are isolated in silos. Harvard Business Review

Avoid becoming a helicopter boss…
…by developing a strong culture in your startup. Employees will be more likely to stay, and you’ll more easily trust them. Fortune

When deciding how to price a new product… 
… determine the maximum customers will pay, then offer bundles so they get more bang for their buck. Inc.

New Tactics

Amazon’s new grocery store concept
Jeff Bezos‘s company wants to create a store without checkout lines. At a Seattle test store for employees, they scan their cell phones as they enter, then grab as they like. Amazon’s technology detects when items are taken from the shelves and charges the shopper’s Amazon account. Amazon hopes to roll out the store to the public next year. Fortune

Blackstone’s play on distressed homes to go public
At the depth of the 2008 financial crisis, Blackstone’s Jonathan Gray bought up $10 billion of repossessed homes. Now the company Blackstone built to rent the 50,000 houses, Invitation Homes, will go public as early as January. The IPO will test whether the home-rental industry can last or was just a short-term response to the financial crisis. WSJ

California considers legislation to fight Trump’s immigration plans
Lawmakers have proposed bills that would provide free legal aid to undocumented immigrants facing deportation and criminal charges. If the bills pass, California would become the the first state to combat Trump’s promised anti-immigration actions. Reuters

Up or Out

BlackRock has hired Buzzfeed CMO Frank Cooper as global CMO.  WSJ

Fortune Reads and Videos

Ikea offers four months paid parental leave…
…for salaried and hourly workers. The policy is unusual for treating all employees the same. Fortune

A proposed bill in New York would require presidential candidates…
…to release five previous years’ tax returns in order for  their name to appear on the ballot. It’s called the T.R.U.M.P. Act. Fortune 

V.P. Joe Biden says he’ll run for president in 2020
As to whether he’s serious, the 74-year-old said, “I learned a long time ago, fate has a strange way of intervening.” Fortune

Bill Gates’s picks for best books of the year
Gates reads a ton; Nike founder Phil Knight‘s memoir Shoe Dog is in his top five. Fortune

Happy Birthday

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo turns 59 today.  Biography

Share Today’s Power Sheet: 
http://fortune.com/newsletter/powersheet/

Produced by Ryan Derousseau
@ryanderous
powersheet@newsletters.fortune.com