WASHINGTON - The heads of some of the nation's largest retailers went to the White House on Wednesday to send a very clear message - don't raise import taxes on goods coming out of Mexico to build the border wall. If it does happen, American consumers could wind up having to pay more for goods and the industry's 42 million jobs could be hurt.
The message seems have been well received. When the President Donald Trump spoke about the meeting, he never mentioned import taxes. Instead, he focused on the massive effort to cut federal regulation. He said it has strangled growth and made it harder to do business.
"I have taken executive action to create a permanent structure of regulatory reduction," said President Trump. "Basically for every one regulation, two are out ... That is the least of it, but it is an important symbol."
A 20 percent Mexican import tax was floated by the White House two weeks ago as a way to pay for the border wall with Mexico. The National Retail Federation quickly slammed the idea and the Trump administration seems to have backed off in the face of sharp warnings of higher prices by retailers.
The goal of this meeting was to discuss economic growth and how to expand jobs. Some of the businesses at the White House meeting included the heads of Target, JCPenney, Best Buy, Gap, Walgreens and AutoZone.
AutoZone president and CEO Bill Rhodes said after the meeting there is a new relationship that now exists between retailers, the administration and Trump - who himself comes from the business community.
"The President and his team, we continue to look to move the interests of our industry, our employees and most importantly, the consumers - the hardworking American consumers that we all serve," Rhodes said.
Of course, the irony here is that Trump's relationship with retailers faced some big questions recently after he publicly blasted Nordstrom for dropping his daughter's clothing line.