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Commentary: Jared Kushner’s First Mistake

One of the big selling points in the Donald Trump for President campaign was his America First trade and economic policies.  Hopefully, this administration is not backsliding from that core promise that helped elect Trump.

When the President on March 27, 2017 announced the Office of American Innovation (OAI) he promised that the new office would “make recommendations to the President on policies and plans that improve Government operations and services, improve the quality of life for Americans now and in the future, and spur job creation.” Senior Advisor to President Trump, Jared Kushner was announced as the person to lead the effort.  Kushner was quotes as saying “we have an opportunity to identify and implement solutions by combining internal resources with the private sector’s innovation and creativity, enabling the Federal Government to better serve Americans.” One of the goals of this effort is to modernize government information technology and services.

One would have reasonably assumed that with Trump’s campaign rhetoric and his push for an Office of American Innovation, that the services requested to modernize government would come from an American company.  Yet, at a summit organized to talk about technology issues, a German company, SAP, was allowed to attend and solicit federal government business from the Trump Administration.

SAP is a German company in direct competition with American companies Microsoft and Oracle.  SAP is a company that manufactures computer software for customer relations and business management.  The company is one of the leading companies in Europe, yet clearly not an American company.  Promoting innovation domestically is what our federal government should be doing, not promoting the idea of foreign countries conducing government services that can be handled by American companies.

VOA News reported last week that SAP CEO Bill McDermott lectured President Trump at the summit when he spoke and said, “In addition to the trillion in cost we can take out, probably we can add another two trillion [dollars] on the numerator in terms of digital business by getting the public and the private sector in full cooperation under your administration.”  Great idea if done by an American company.

Congress has long considered measures to force the federal government to “Buy American” when using taxpayer money to purchase goods and services with federal funds.  That idea makes sense, because taxpayers are paying into a system with the expectation that the money will not be spent overseas.  Using a foreign company to conduct government services seems inconsistent with an economic philosophy that promotes American jobs and companies.

Think about it this way – the idea behind the president’s economic plans to promote roads and bridges is to spend federal money that creates American jobs in highway programs.  American companies and labor would build the roads and bridges.  Why does that philosophy not translate to the tech community? Makes no sense.

Jared Kushner made a mistake to invite SAP to present at the summit last week.  The invitation to the German company sent the wrong message to American tech companies and set a dangerous precedent where Chinese, Russian and other foreign companies will expect an invitation to the next summit to study American labor and corporate competitiveness issues.


Cloakroom Confidential

Cloakroom Confidential

Cloakroom Confidential was a longtime Capitol Hill staffer and insider who has contacts in the House and Senate at the highest levels.

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