Billionaire investor Carl Icahn picked as Donald Trump's regulations-slashing adviser

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Republican President-elect Donald Trump named 80-year-old investor Carl Icahn, a prominent Trump surrogate and conservative business magnate with an estimated net worth of $16.5 billion, as a "special adviser on regulatory reform," CNN Money reported on Wednesday.

The job basically boils down to smashing decades of business regulations opposed by conservatives — both Trump and Icahn believe a key drag on the economy is a burdensome regulatory sector. In a statement to CNN Money, Trump's transition team wrote Icahn "will be a leader in helping American entrepreneurs shed job-killing regulations that stifle economic growth."

As a special adviser, Icahn won't be subject to the same standards that government officials are held to and will essentially act as a private citizen.

"The position isn't an official government job," the Wall Street Journal wrote. "Mr. Icahn won't get paid and won't have to give up his current business dealings."

But the job may offer other perks, given Icahn's massive investment portfolio, which includes stakes in dozens of corporations in a wide variety of sectors. A key role advising the president-elect on which costly regulations to roll back could directly benefit that portfolio, and thus Icahn, immensely.

The public already has a taste of what Trump's regulatory agenda will look like. The president-elect's three-point plan for regulations, as previously reported by CNN Money, will be putting an immediate federal moratorium on all new regulations, requiring regulators to scale priorities for regulations and eliminate the least important ones, and replacing the heads of agencies Trump deems bad for business.

One regulation Icahn dubbed bad for business was a "surge in government-backed ethanol blending credits" affected by Environmental Protection Agency rules, Bloomberg wrote in 2015. Icahn believed the rules had the possibility to drive refineries owned by CVR Energy Inc., in which he held an 82% stake, into bankruptcy.

Trump has since named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who is suing the EPA to roll back parts of President Barack Obama's climate agenda, to head that agency.

"It looks like Trump isn't the only billionaire set to profit off of the presidency," Democratic National Committee spokesman Eric Walker told the Hill. "The corrupt nature of this arrangement cannot be understated. Voters who wanted Trump to drain the swamp just got another face full of mud."

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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