Biden and Corporate America? It’s ‘Complicated.’

In the hours before delivering his State of the Union speech last month, President Biden called the chief executives of General Motors and Cisco Systems to ask their advice on the state of the American economy and share how he planned to talk about it.

Then he rode to Capitol Hill and, in his address, promised to raise the rate on a new minimum tax his administration has levied on big companies “so every big corporation finally begins to pay their fair share.”

“I also want to end tax breaks for Big Pharma, Big Oil, private jets, massive executive pay,” Mr. Biden continued, adding: “End it now.”

The sequence epitomizes Mr. Biden’s alternatively cozy and combative relationship with America’s business leaders, which has rippled through the national economy, federal policy and now the 2024 campaign for the White House.

The president has both courted and pilloried corporate America as he seeks re-election this fall. Corporate leaders have enjoyed record profits on his watch and an open channel with his administration, but they have bristled at some of his biggest policy decisions.

There is a certain symbiosis with corporate leaders in much of Mr. Biden’s economic agenda. His industrial policy initiatives depend heavily on corporate tax incentives, which he champions at ribbon-cuttings nationwide: The climate and advanced-manufacturing laws that Mr. Biden signed in 2022 feature large tax cuts for corporations that invest in the production of semiconductors, solar panels and other strategic goods. Republicans have derisively called those incentives “corporate welfare.”

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