Obama names Immelt head of new economic advisory council

On Friday, General Electric Chief Executive Jeffery Immelt announced in a Washington Post op-ed that President Obama had selected him to chair the new President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is calling that decision a “promising step” toward a fully recovered economy.

“Jeff is an excellent choice to lead this effort with his business experience and acumen, and understanding of global markets,” said Chamber President Thomas Donohue in a statement.

The Council will focus on creating jobs, boosting America’s global competitiveness, and improving and sustaining economic growth.

Donohue went on to say that the “ultimate test will not be the administration’s words and intentions, but its actions.” He noted that the council’s success will be based on regulatory restraint, expansion of free trade, reducing deficits and reining in spending, among other things.

But while the business community may be looking forward to working with Immelt, critics of the appointment say it’s nothing more than political posturing. Tom Borelli of the Free Enterprise Project told The Daily Caller that President Obama’s choice to appoint Immelt is “not about jobs creation but the 2012 election.”

“Obama needs to rally big business donors from companies such as General Electric,” said Borelli. “Obama and Immelt are mutually dependent on each other.”

Immelt’s appointment, however, is seen as the latest sign that the White House is looking to enhance its relationship with business. Recently, Obama named business executive Bill Daley as his chief of staff, reached a trade agreement with South Korea and promised in Wall Street Journal op-ed to review regulations.

The president also held a five-hour long summit last month with about 20 CEOs from companies such as Honeywell International and Duke Power.

The new Council replaces the existing President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB), which has been led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. PERAB was created to organize the administration’s response to the economic crisis, but its two-year mandate ends February 6.