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Feedback Friday: CEO Daily, Friday 25th August

August 25, 2017, 11:04 AM UTC

Good morning.

It’s feedback Friday.

Several readers took issue with my preemptive praise yesterday for the “gang of six”—Cohn, Mnuchin, McConnell, Ryan, Hatch, Brady—who are quietly crafting a tax reform plan in spite of the public storm surrounding the President.

R.M. said that, without the benefit of specifics, it appears the plan will be “good only for business and bad for the average American.” He argues investments in education and R&D would do more to create high-paying jobs than a tax break for business.

T.C. makes a similar point. “I don’t think the nation will be grateful if the gang of six succeeds. Maybe Republicans will be? Maybe the 1%ers?”

But B.B. agreed with the spirit of my comment, noting that “one of the key elements during the financial crisis was the willingness of Presidents Bush and Obama to stand to the side and let the grown-ups manage the efforts. Without the efforts of Bernanke, Paulson and Geithner, it could have been much worse … If only this President could comprehend.”

Meanwhile, President Trump is reportedly planning a trip to Missouri next week to campaign for tax reform. The state is home to Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat who faces a tough reelection fight next year and has called for a bipartisan approach to tax reform. The move suggests the White House still thinks it may pick up some Democratic support for the tax effort.

Enjoy the weekend. News below, including the latest on the meltdown of Sears. How long can this long, slow death dance last?

Alan Murray

Top News

Sears' Struggles Continue

Some of Sears Holdings' vendors and insurance brokers tell Reuters that the struggling department store operators is having trouble stocking its shelves, as some vendors are either abandoning stores or asking for more favorable terms due to insurance issues. The cost of vendors' insurance—which ensures suppliers can still be paid for their inventory even if the retailer files for bankruptcy—have jumped since March, when Sears admitted "substantial doubt" of its own survival. The retailer also said on Thursday that it is closing another 28 Kmart stores as sales continue to plummet. Reuters

Former Samsung Head Gets Five-Year Sentence

Jay Y. Lee, the billionaire scion of South Korea's Samsung Group, received a five-year prison sentence at the conclusion of a six-month trial over the bribery scandal that led to the downfall of former president Park Geun-hye. Lee had been arrested in February and charged with bribing Park in exchange for support as Lee tried to consolidate control of the conglomerate founded by his family. In addition to bribery, a Seoul court also found Lee guilty of hiding assets overseas, embezzlement, and perjury. Reuters

Amazon Is Slashing Whole Foods' Prices

Only two months after the e-commerce giant announced its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market, Amazon said on Thursday it will immediately lower the prices for some of the luxury chain's best-selling basic items. Also, eventually, Amazon plans to make its Amazon Prime membership the default loyalty program for Whole Foods, which could boost Prime's membership as shoppers seek special deals and other perks at the store that is often jokingly referred to as "Whole Paycheck." Fortune

GM's Barra Joins Disney Board Amid Search for Iger's Successor

Disney announced the appointment of General Motors CEO Mary Barra to the entertainment giant's board of directors. Barra joins other prominent female executives on Disney's board—including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and The Carlyle Group's Susan Arnold—at a time when the company's directors are busy searching for an heir apparent to CEO Bob Iger, who is set to retire in July 2019. Bloomberg


Around the Water Cooler

HP and Deloitte Team Up for 3D Printing Push

HP Inc. and Deloitte said they will work jointly to offer companies 3D printing and manufacturing services. While HP is the world's largest manufacturer of printers, the company is a relative newcomer to 3D printing—it started selling them in December—and HP CEO Dion Wiesler thinks the company can win a big share of the $12 trillion manufacturing market. Fortune

Obamacare Will Be Available Everywhere in 2018

Ohio's regional CareSource insurer agreed to offer plans in that state's Paulding County next year, which means what was the final U.S. county without an Obamacare insurer will have access to individual health plan options in 2018 should any of those residents need them. The news puts a temporary end to the Affordable Care Act's "bare" counties problem, which popped up after Anthem and other major insurers pulled out of Obamacare due to a variety of concerns, including President Trump's threats to cut off payments to insurers. Fortune

Can Amazon Really Kill the 'Whole Paycheck' Reputation?

Fortune's Beth Kowitt writes that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is not a big fan of the luxury grocer's "Whole Paycheck" moniker. It's been a hard reputation to shake, even with Mackey working to cut costs for customers, most notably with the store's 365 private label. But, the mere association with Amazon is likely to change the perception of Whole Foods' prices in many customers' minds, especially with the company's more competitively-priced 365 brand being offered online for the first time ever. Fortune


Summaries by Tom Huddleston Jr.