The Business Roundtable is an United States association of chief executive officers of leading corporations working to shape public policy in their interest. These CEO members lead companies with more than 15 million employees and more than $7 trillion in annual revenue.
In 2010, the Washington Post characterized the group as President Obama's "closest ally in the business community."
On August 19, 2019, the group updated its decades-old definition of the purpose of a corporation, doing away with its bedrock principle that shareholder interests must be placed above all else. The statement, signed by nearly 200 chief executive officers from major U.S. corporations, makes a "fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders," including customers, employees, suppliers and local communities. This seems to dovetail with the World Economic Forum and its planned 2021 corporate coup d'etat the The Great Reset.
The Business Roundtable was founded in 1972 by John Harper, CEO of the Alcoa Group, and Fred Borch, CEO of General Electric, who were concerned about growing public hostility to large corporations and the development of federal labor regulations and on unions in an increasingly competitive international market.
The forum is working for deregulation and reduction of government intervention through laws, except where it is in their interest, for reduced corporate taxes and for more voluntary agreements for industry. The Business Roundtable also pushed the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) and supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and lobbyed for example for British Petroleum, Coca-Cola, Deutsche Bank, ExxonMobil, General Motors, Monsanto, Nike, Procter & Gamble and Shell. In 2007, the BRT was a co-initiator of the Aspen principles.
The organization's current focus is on taking control over policy on corporate governance, education and the workforce, energy and the environment, health and retirement, immigration, infrastructure, international engagement, regulation, tax and fiscal policy, as well their ideas on technology, the Internet and innovation.
The Business Roundtable played a key role in defeating an anti-trust bill in 1975 and a Ralph Nader plan for a consumer protection agency in 1977. It also helped dilute the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act. But the Roundtable's most significant victory was in blocking labor law reform that sought to strengthen labor law to make it more difficult for companies to intimidate workers who wanted to form unions.
In fiscal policy, the Roundtable was responsible for broadening the 1985 tax cuts signed into law by Ronald Reagan, lobbying successfully for sharp reductions in corporate taxes. In trade policy, it argued for opening foreign markets to American trade and investment. The Omnibus Trade Act of 1988 reflected the thinking of the Business Roundtable. In 1990, the Roundtable urged George HW Bush to initiate a free trade agreement with Mexico. In 1993, the Roundtable lobbied for NAFTA and against any strong side agreements on labor and the environment. It provided the money and leadership for the main pro-NAFTA lobby.
The Roundtable also successfully opposed changes in corporate governance that would have made boards of directors and CEOs more accountable to stockholders.
In 1986, the Roundtable convinced the Securities and Exchange Commission to forgo new rules on merger and acquisitions, and in 1993 convinced President Clinton to water down his plan to impose penalties on excessive executive salaries.
The Roundtable's Health, Welfare, and Retirement Income Task Force, chaired by Prudential Insurance CEO Robert C. Winters, cheered President George HW Bush's 1991 health plan, which consisted mainly of subsidies to the health care industry. The nation's health care system works well for the majority of Americans, the Roundtable announced in a June 1991 statement. "We believe the solutions lie not in tearing down the present system, but in building upon it."
The Business Roundtable also acts as a major lobby that aims to extend or maintain administrators' rights/power in large companies. For example, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission adopted the so-called "shareholders’ access to proxy" rule, which aimed to empower shareholders in the proposition and nomination of administrators of big corporations. The Business Roundtable was strongly against that rule, as its president John Castellani reported to the Washington Post about removing this rule: "this is our highest priority [...] Literally all of our members have called about this". And they got the upper hand: the SEC rule was finally dropped after intense lobbying and lawsuits.
It is not clear if the members are there in a semi-personal capacity or on behalf of the company, presumably the latter.
|US/Chamber of Commerce||“The chamber of commerce is really one of the most powerful lobbies in this country. It’s so powerful you almost never read about it. It’s one of those deep presences that rarely rise to the level of being written about in history.”||Peter Dale Scott||2 December 2014|