Trump Picks Taj Mahal Owner as Regulatory Reform Adviser

By Michael Hill

Corporate raider Carl Icahn is worth an estimated $16 billion and he’s President-elect Donald Trump’s surprising choice as adviser for regulatory reform, an unpaid position to end so-called strangling regulations. In a statement, Icahn said, “Under President Obama, America’s business owners have been crippled by over $1 trillion in new regulations and over 750 billion hours dealing with paperwork. It’s time to break free of excessive regulation and let our entrepreneurs do what they do best: create jobs and support communities.”

“I think that’s a wonderful thing,” said Sen. Gerald Cardinale.

Cardinale supports Trump’s pick. Cardinale also says New Jersey lawmakers should stay out of the dispute between Trump Taj Mahal owner Icahn and Local 54 casino workers. After a 102-day strike over health and other benefits, Icahn shut the Taj and Atlantic City lost another 3,000 jobs.

Amid speculation Icahn would re-open the Taj without union labor, both the New Jersey Senate and Assembly have approved bills to take away Icahn’s Taj Mahal license and to bar him from getting another casino license for five years. The legislation does not specifically mention Icahn but doesn’t seem to apply to anyone else in the state.

Bill co-sponsor Assemblyman John Burzichelli says Icahn can re-open the Taj with union labor.

“We expect good jobs and we expect good operators to run these very, very precious licenses,” he said.

Icahn’s camp has called it “unconscionable” and said it would limit Icahn’s ability to create jobs in AC.

“Stupidity of government,” Cardinale said.

John Longo is a Rutgers business professor and the chief investment officer and portfolio manager for Beacon Investment Advisory Services.

“The barring of any business is not great for long-term growth of New Jersey. Carl Icahn is there to advise the president-elect on what can be done to increase business in general, so if one person, even if he’s an insignificant player, is impeded from doing business in New Jersey, the overall state might do well with the lesser regulation or more efficient regulations,” he said.

Some lawmakers speculate this is not the kind of bill a pro-business Gov. Chris Christie would sign into law, a move that likely would not sit well with the Trump administration or the man who would be advising the next president.