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Execs Return to White House to Give Trump Their U.S. Job Ideas

Some of America's most powerful CEOs return to the White House to have Trump check their homework, including ideas on job creation and tax reform.
Image: President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C.,Feb. 9, 2017.
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C.,Feb. 9, 2017.Evan Vucci / AP

Trump, the teacher-in-chief?

At the last meeting Trump had with manufacturing CEOs, everyone got a homework assignment: You've got 30 days to come up with a plan to create U.S jobs. In today's meeting with them, he'll check their work.

"We're going to find out how we bring more jobs back," Trump told the group before the meeting was shut off to the press. He cited that the U.S. closed 70,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization. The president said he wanted to create a "level" playing field for companies on the world stage, with a stronger dollar and trade surpluses with other countries.

The CEOs went around the room introducing themselves, offering praise, and inviting Trump to come ride in the industrial vehicles they manufacture or visit operations.

Trump alternately praised, bullied, and cajoled during the introduction. He asked the CEO of United Technologies, Carrier's parent company if they were going to bring any more jobs back and said that its air conditioning sales were up from "patriotic" buyers.

He also prodded the CEO of GE, Jeffrey Immelt, to relate an anecdote where while golfing Trump said "I'm the best golfer of all the rich people," and the proceeded to hit a hole-in-one on a par 3.

Listening in on of of the smaller sessions beforehand, CNBC reported that one of the CEOs said that a border adjustment tax would create 2 million high-paying jobs -- only to be quickly interrupted by another CEO who pointed out it would also expose 42 million jobs to destruction. Under the rules of engagement reporters were not allowed to quote participants by name.

Two "very" senior administration officials also discussed how vocational schools were larger parts of high school education when they were growing up and they wanted to see that brought back, CNBC reported.

Related: Trump Begins First Week by Meeting With Top Business Leaders

Also due today are the outlines of issues and focuses where Trump could make changes to help companies grow in the United States and hire in the United States, a meeting participant told NBC News.

On today's lesson plan: splitting into working groups. Each group will get tasked with a different focus, such as taxes, regulation, workforce of the future, environmental issues, and infrastructure and Army Corps of Engineers, the participant said.

The CEOs showing up to class today include Michael Dell of Dell Technologies; Andrew Liveris of Dow Chemical; Alex Gorsky of Johnson & Johnson; Mark Fields of Ford; Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin; and Mario Longhi of U.S. Steel, according to the White House.

Also in attendance from the Administration side will be Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon, among others.

Related: Many CEOs 'Scared Out of Their Minds,' Won't Speak Out Against Trump

Some CEOs from the original group "called in sick" for scheduling reasons, the participant said. Others may have had to "drop the class" due to concerns about customer and employee backlash.

At the end of the last meeting in January, Ford CEO Mark Fields told reporters, "I know I come out with a lot of confidence that the president is very, very serious on making sure that the United States economy is going to be strong, and have policies — tax, regulatory or trade — to drive that."

A complete overhaul of the system was promised earlier in the day by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, including simplified rules for businesses. He said that would help boost the country to 3 percent growth in GDP. The stock market responded to the announcement with mixed results.