Obama to meet with CEOs

It’s time for the private sector to do it’s part to help the economy **:

We have to be competitive and the private sector needs to stand up,” said Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. “There is opportunity perhaps in the fact that the corporate sector has begun to rebound and there is cash on their balance sheets.”

Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said some companies are recovering, others are waiting for demand to increase and others are “looking for some certainty in the regulatory environment.”

“Companies are sitting on a great deal of cash so it would be very important for the president to understand what more could we do to encourage investment that is going to lead to job creation,” she said.

Companies are sitting on cash? Well, I can’t believe they’re allowed to do that. Everyone knows, especially everyone in government, that you’re supposed to spend every last penny and then borrow a ton more. Sitting on cash. Isn’t there some law they’re breaking?

Of course:

The executives who will gather privately at Blair House, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, include Obama backers and members of White House advisory boards who have worked with the administration for some time.

Among them are Penny Pritzker, a Chicago business executive who served as finance chair of Obama’s presidential campaign, and Robert Wolf of UBS, a member of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, an Obama golfing partner and a Democratic fundraiser.


But there are past critics in the group, too. Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, has complained that “government and entrepreneurs are not in sync.” And he has called for progress in shaping an energy policy. “Our policy is uncertainty,” he said in June.

Harsh Obama critic Jeff Immlet? This Jeff Immelt?

Except for maybe Google, no company has been closer and more in synch with the Obama administration than General Electric.

First, there’s the policy overlap: Obama wants cap-and-trade, GE wants cap-and-trade. Obama subsidizes embryonic stem-cell research, GE launches an embryonic stem-cell business. Obama calls for rail subsidies, GE hires Linda Daschle as a rail lobbyist. Obama gives a speeech, GE employee Chris Matthews feels a thrill up his leg. I could go on.

Immelt isn’t what one could call a “good” conservative.

According to Gasparino, GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt had “helped his company feast off of the subsidies of Obamanomics,” including the green energy initiatives and health care reform. And although Immelt is a registered Republican, Gasparino detailed how Immelt would walk around his company’s headquarters saying “we’re all Democrats” now at the prospect of government checks going to GE.

Immelt is part of the problem.

Mr. Immelt’s words betray GE’s willingness to partner with the Obama government in order to turn a profit. To this end, GE has appointed Mr. Obama’s former nominee for secretary of health and human services, Tom Daschle, to the board of advisers for Healthymagination, an initiative launched by General Electric in partnership along with Intel, which will invest $6 billion over the next six years on “health care innovation that will help deliver better care to more people at lower cost.”

Mr. Daschle said, “We can only find real solutions in health care when business, government and their partners work together.”

When they work together in a mutually beneficial relationship, of course.

Mr. Obama has introduced a plan to computerize all health records within five years. Independent studies from Harvard, Rand Corp. and the Commonwealth Fund have estimated that such a plan could cost at least $75 billion to $100 billion over the next 10 years. Healthymagination is readying just such a technology, claiming that they will seek to “increase the use and capability of electronic medical record (EMR) technology and other information technology.” With Mr. Obama’s ally Mr. Daschle on board, Healthymagination is sure to have more than a leg up on its competition when it comes time to dole out these massive contracts.

This kind of stuff used to get reported.

Under the cloak of corporate responsibility, General Electric seeks to benefit to the tune of billions from the passage of Mr. Obama’s health care reform. On its corporate Web site, Healthymagination admits it will use every tool at its disposal to achieve its goals, including NBC Universal, the parent company of MSNBC which offers nearly uncritical coverage of Mr. Obama and his policies.

Regardless, I bet Immelt is gonna give Obama HELL today at the meeding. He’s walking into a lion’s den, for sure.

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One Comment on “Obama to meet with CEOs”

  1. MJ Says:

    Generally speaking, the goal of a company is to increase the price of stock, within ethical boundaries. They don’t care where the benefit comes from, just as long as its a benefit to the share price. I don’t fault them for their willingness to feast on the government, although I would never advise getting into bed with a wolf.

    Soon it will become who is feasting on whom? Companies are run quarter to quarter, at the very most, which doesn’t allow them to evaluate long term consequences.

    But of course, what do I know?

    IIRC the ‘electronic health records’ thing was tried in Britain with exponential cost increases to tax payers. Eventually the companies that won the bid, Rand and Accenture, walked away from the billions because the job wasn’t doable. This is coming from a country with a centralized set of documentation, not the thousands of providers we have. From an IT perspective it may not be possible quite yet.

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