Obama says he wants to ‘partner’ with American business

Neil Munro | White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama told business leaders today that he wants close cooperation between his government and their companies.

“We want to be a consistent partner with you on a whole range of issues,” he told the D.C.-based Business Roundtable, an association for the CEOs of major U.S. companies, which, combined have more than $7.3 trillion in annual revenues and employ nearly 16 million people.

The proposed partnership would have CEOs lobby Congress for passage of Obama’s goals, including passage of a Senate bill that triples the rate of immigration to add 33 million immigrants over the next decade, and passage of a budget that doesn’t cut Obamacare’s federally-run health-care system, Obama suggested.

“It is going to be important for all of you, I think, over the next several weeks to understand what’s at stake and to make sure that you are using your influence in whatever way you can,” said Obama.

Many major CEOs ask Obama’s deputies for exemptions from painful regulations and taxes. They also ask his regulators for valuable subsidies, targeted tax breaks and favorable regulations, such as access to cheap foreign labor.

Since 2009, Obama has increased government’s power in many sectors of the economy, including the health-care, auto, education, energy, banking and real-estate sectors. He’s now pushing for an increased role in managing the supply of workers, via passage of an immigration rewrite.

Obama is not a socialist, because he does not believe the government needs to own companies and factories. Instead, he’s a progressive who believes the nation’s economy and society should be managed by government experts, not by the varied preferences of individual CEOs, parents and workers.

The president’s call for a partnership came after he spent two days early this week slamming the private sector.

“Our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits, [and] the top 1 percent of Americans took home 20 percent of the nation’s income last year, while the average worker isn’t seeing a raise at all,” he said Sept. 16, on the fifth anniversary of the 2008 Wall Street crash. (RELATED: Obama was a pioneering contributor to the national subprime real estate bubble)

“In fact, that understates the problem — most of the gains have gone to the top one-tenth of 1 percent,” Obama added.

“Capital, companies, they can move businesses and jobs anywhere they want.  And so they’re looking for the lowest wages,” Obama said in a Sept. 15 NBC interview.

“That squeezes workers here in the United States, even if corporations are profitable,” he said, before arguing that companies‘ use of technology destroys jobs.

“They’ve eliminated entire occupations because they’re now robotized.  We don’t have travel agents.  We don’t have bank tellers,” he added.

On Sept. 18, however, Obama was eager to praise companies and CEOs at the roundtable.

“When you succeed, when you’re doing well, when you’re competitive at a global scale, then America can do well also,” he said.

“I’m hugely invested in your success, because this room represents not only an enormous amount of economic output, but also represents the hopes and dreams of people who are working very hard trying to make a living,” he said

Obama also praised some of the CEOs for working with him on the establishment of federal “Common Core” education standards, and winning Senate passage of a bill to triple immigration over the next 10 years.

“Many of you have been doing wonderful work with the administration on a whole range of issues,” he said.

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