On Wednesday, President Obama met with a group of about 20 CEOs in a five-hour long summit, reportedly in an attempt to soothe the souring relationship between big business and big government. From almost all accounts, the “charm offensive” was successful.
By the end, Boeing CEO John McNerney is reported to have said, “We all wanted to move beyond the talk that made this confrontational environment. We made our apologies.” Honeywell International CEO David Cote said after the meeting, “Government is the enabler of business…Government and business need to work together.”
What Cote did not mention is that his company has already been working closely with the Obama Administration, and was a major beneficiary of the Recovery Act — as were many of the other companies represented. According to Recovery.gov, Honeywell received over $44 million in grants from the Department of Energy (DOE) for renewable energy initiatives.
Honeywell also raked in more than $24 million in a variety of different government contracts from agencies like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defense.
Also notable is the fact that many of the corporations represented – General Electric (GE), Duke Energy, NextEra Energy, Dow Chemical and PepsiCo – are current members of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP).
USCAP is a lobbying coalition of businesses and environmental groups that lobby heavily for energy legislation like cap and trade. USCAP, in fact, takes credit for getting the recent Waxman-Markey bill passed in the House last year.
NextEra and Duke also received about $200 million apiece from the DOE to develop a smart grid – a popular idea among environmentalists pushing for more energy efficient products.
Noticeably absent from yesterday’s meeting were CEOs from Caterpillar, John Deere, and ConocoPhillips. All of those companies withdrew from USCAP within the last year.
John Doerr from the Silicon-Valley venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins was also in attendance. But as the Daily Caller previously reported, Doerr has successfully lobbied the Obama Administration the last two years for policies supporting green initiatives that support companies he has major financial stakes in.
Doerr, whose business partners include former Vice President Al Gore, depends on government policies for the success of the start-up firms focused on green technology that he has invested in. the mutually-beneficial relationship prompted one energy scholar to tell theDC recently, “they’re co-dependent and loving it!”
“Obama’s CEO Summit was pure propaganda,” Tom Borelli of the Free Enterprise Project told theDC. “The meeting was billed as an effort to mend tensions between the business community and the president when in reality many of the CEO attendees are acting as an arm of the Obama Administration.”
He continued: “The meeting was not to establish relationships but a rally to keep CEOs pushing for the Obama’s radical policy agenda.”
During the meeting, President Obama reportedly focused on encouraging the executives to begin investing and hiring again. He began the meeting by saying, “…I want to dispel any notion that we want to inhibit your success…We want to be boosters because when you do well, America does well.”