Jeffrey Immelt at WaPo:
President Obama has asked me to chair his new President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. I have served for the past two years on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, and I look forward to leading the next phase of this effort as we transition from recovery to long-term growth. The president and I are committed to a candid and full dialogue among business, labor and government to help ensure that the United States has the most competitive and innovative economy in the world.
Business leaders should provide expertise in service of our country. My predecessors at GE have done so, as have leaders of many other great American companies. There is always a healthy tension between the public and private sectors. However, we all share a responsibility to drive national competitiveness, particularly during economic unrest. This is one of those times.
The new CJC will help Obama politically in a couple of ways. First, the new board will showcase a new priority on jobs, a “pivot” Obama began promising in December 2009 and the lack of which contributed to the midterm beating Democrats took two years ago. Second, membership on the board will apparently include a number of CEOs in a more high-profile advisory capacity than earlier outreach efforts.
The White House has to hope that the increased reliance on private-sector executives will improve Obama’s relationship with the business community as well as answer critics who have blasted the administration for its dearth of real-world business experience. But it also comes as a rather large coincidence. The White House just announced the start of its re-election campaign efforts, which will be run out of Chicago, and which will be tasked with beating the $700 million in contributions Obama raised in the 2008 campaign. He will want businesses to get involved in that effort; his sudden interest in what CEOs think at least has the appearance of self-interest more than a change in economic philosophy.
Hopefully, Obama actually takes their advice and puts pro-growth economic policies in place while pulling back hard on regulatory innovation. I suspect, however, that this is more intended as window dressing while Obama pursues the same economic policies that have led to stagnation and persistently high unemployment.
Joe Klein at Swampland at Time:
Gotta admit I’m not too pleased by the departure of Paul Volcker from Barack Obama’s circle of adviser. He was one of the few, along with Elizabeth Warren, in the current administration who had a proper perspective on the outrageous behavior that the financial community considers business as usual. And while the appointment of his replacement Jeffrey Immelt, of General Electric, signals a desire to snuggle up to the business community–at least Immelt comes from the manufacturing sector. He has experience actually making products, a skill notably lacking among every one of Obama’s other economic advisers.
Again, I’ll repeat: the important distinction here is between the business community, which should be encouraged to create more jobs, and the financial community, which should be shamed for its casino-gaming shenanigans and kept away from the inner circles of economic policy-making.
Let the 2012 Re-Elect begin. Obama is now monomaniacally promoting non-enforceable rhetoric about jobs’: a WSJ editorial trumpeting a non-enforceable executive order to look back at olds regs, fogging the mirror so we can’t focus so well on the orgy of new regs which is actually what threatens the economy; and today’s gesture, another executive order establishing a new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness led by none other than General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, of “We’re all Democrats now” and “The government has moved in next door, and it ain’t leaving. You could fight it if you want, but society wants change. And government is not going away” fame.
So he’s focusing on gummint jobs, direct or indirect, regardless, they’re the looming boomlet will be of jobs paid for by political dictate and out of your pockets. Not quite markets at work. Which is really the kind he promised the Obama economy would be built around. In a word: bubbles. Great.
emptywheel at Firedoglake:
I noted the other day that GE had signed a big deal with China that will involve us sharing our jet technology with China, which will ultimately help China compete with both GE and — China has said explicitly — Boeing. Then there’s the fact that, even as Immelt has been calling for manufacturing in the U.S., his company has been shutting U.S. plants to move the work to China.
While Immelt was calling for manufacturing to stay in the U.S., his company was at the same time shipping manufacturing jobs overseas by canceling an order with an American-based wind turbine maker, ATI Casting Service in LaPorte, Ind., so that GE could instead buy the parts from a factory in China.
Recently, ATI made $30 million worth of investments to buy, convert, and modernize a shuttered factory in economically ravaged Michigan so the company could provide more parts to GE as the green economy expands with federal stimulus funding. But a Chinese firm underbid ATI, and the factory faced having to lay off 302 union workers and shutter the plant.
In an aggressive bid to keep the factory open, ATI offered to match the price of the Chinese producers. GE once again said they would prefer to buy from China. The ATI plant is now closed, the jobs gone.
Then there is Immelt’s call for Free — not Fair — Trade in his op-ed announcing the Kabuki Council.
Free trade: America cannot expand its manufacturing base without greatly increasing the volume of goods it sells overseas. That is why I applaud the free-trade agreement recently concluded between the United States and South Korea, which will eliminate barriers to U.S. exports and support export-oriented jobs. We should seek to conclude trade and investment agreements with other fast-growing markets and modernize our systems for export finance and trade control. Those who advocate increasing domestic manufacturing jobs by erecting trade barriers have it exactly wrong.
And then, finally, there’s the little detail that GE managed, alone of “manufacturing companies” in the U.S., to turn itself into a Too Big To Fail overleveraged finance company in need of a $16 billion bailout from the government (as has happened with all the TBTF finance companies, bailouts have made GE’s financing business profitable again).
In short, no matter how many times Immelt gets up on a podium or in an op-ed and feigns an interest in American jobs, his actions make him the poster child for everything wrong with the U.S. economy right now.
And that’s what Obama is rolling out, as he moves into campaign mode, to convince Americans he’s going to do a damn thing about jobs.
This morning the president will sign an executive order creating a new “Council on Jobs and Competitiveness” that will be led by General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt. The new panel will replace the President’s “Economic Recovery Advisory Board” and White House economic czar Paul Volcker is out. Politico blandly says Volcker is leaving “as its mission ends.”
Why does this sound like something out of 1984? Or something that Pravda might have penned? Just substitute the term Kremlin for White House.
So…the creation of a new bureaucratic body to generate jobs is the president’s latest exciting BIG IDEA.
Does this council have any power, or is it just something to titillate the villagers like the SS commission? Who is this Immelt (other than a GE exec)? How do they expect to put people back to work without a jobs program, which no one will pay for in our new ages of austerity? Is this just another wet kiss on the lips for our corporate overlords? Did the DNC need some GE donations? What gives…