General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt Sours on President Obama

by Brian McGraw on March 20, 2012

in Blog

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Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric, has gone sour on President Obama:

Back when he agreed to advise the Obama administration on economics, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt told friends that he thought it would be good for GE and good for the country. A life-long Republican, Immelt said he believed he could at the very least moderate the president’s distinctly anti-business instincts.

That was three years ago; these days Immelt is telling friends something quite different.

Sure, GE has managed to feast on federal subsidies, particularly the “green-energy” giveaways that are Obamanomics’ hallmark.

But Immelt doesn’t think he’s had anywhere near as much luck moderating the president’s fat-cat-bashing, left-leaning economic agenda of taxing businesses and entrepreneurs to pay for government bloat.

Friends describe Immelt as privately dismayed that, even after three years on the job, President Obama hasn’t moved to the center, but instead further left. The GE CEO, I’m told, is appalled by everything from the president’s class-warfare rhetoric to his continued belief that big government is the key to economic salvation.

This is rich. While I happen to agree with Immelt that increasing the size and scope of government is not in our nations best interests, GE/Immelt are an infamous symbol of crony capitalism, where big government and big business get together and rig the game to enrich themselves while the American taxpayers get the shaft. In General Electric’s case this consists of support for all sorts of tax credits and subsidies for wind energy production, support for the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill, spending almost $40 million lobbying in 2010, and the list goes on.
Despite his new found anxiety (I wonder if this has anything to do with the prospect of a Romney presidency), Immelt is still the chair of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, and thus a part of the problem:

The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness (Jobs Council) was created to provide non-partisan advice to the President on continuing to strengthen the Nation’s economy and ensure the competitiveness of the United States and on ways to create jobs, opportunity, and prosperity for the American people.

The Jobs Council is made up of members appointed by the President from among distinguished citizens outside the Federal Government, including citizens chosen to serve as representatives of the various sectors of the economy to offer the diverse perspectives of the private sector, employers, and workers on how the Federal Government can best foster growth, competitiveness, innovation, and job creation.

Now, while its not clear that the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness actually has any influence (or has accomplished anything), their recommendations consist of various forms of industrial policy, again set up to funnel money from taxpayers into industry such that industry doesn’t have to compete in an open market place producing things that consumers want, but rather profit from lavish subsidies, tax credits, and mandates:

Adopt an “All-In” Strategy on Energy

In order to stay competitive, the U.S. must maintain access to abundant and affordable energy while reducing our reliance on foreign imports and moving toward cleaner energy sources. The Jobs Council recommends an “all-in” approach to energy that optimizes all of America’s natural resources, drives innovation and investment, and promotes efficiency to reduce our overall energy dependence.

Revitalize the American Manufacturing Sector

The U.S. still boasts the most productive, highly-educated manufacturing workforce in the world, unrivaled intellectual property protections, and an advantage in low-cost energy. These strengths at home, and rising costs abroad, give reason to be bullish about American manufacturing. The U.S. can gain three to four percentage points of global value added market share—an ambitious but achievable goal. To accomplish that we must emphasize our traditional manufacturing advantages while taking more aggressive measures in key sectors to take share from global competitors.

Luckily for Immelt, Romney will assuredly welcome him and his lobbying cash with open arms, if he wins the 2012 election. As my colleague Marlo Lewis noted today in an e-mail: “Immelt wants GE Exceptionalism – big government support for his company, but not big government in general.”

 

BobRGeologist March 21, 2012 at 12:43 am

Immelt has apparently joined the crowd who have realized that Obama is strictly for Obama and Americans are the losers.

BobRGeologist March 21, 2012 at 12:52 am

Lets start using our still abundant fossil energy resources. Every $ not spent on foreign oil will go into reduction of our horrendous debt.

Bobby99 March 21, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Immelt has used and “tricked out” Obama for the green stimulus cash– Obama is now cast aside like a over- used hooker- They were both in on the con . TAXPAYERS foot the bill. Ge had to “cook the books ” in the past and they are not sound now.

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