At the New York Post, Fox Business correspondent Charles Gasparino reports that President Barack Obama has lost the support of the man he appointed to lead his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt.
When Immelt agreed to lead the council after the midterm elections, the press corps fired off a round of stories about how Obama had mended fences with business leaders.
At the time, Immelt seemed the perfect choice for the role. “The government has moved in next door, and it ain’t leaving,” he had informed his fellow business leaders in 2009. While registered as a Republican, Immelt decided to be a good neighbor. After all, good neighbors make good business partners, especially when Uncle Sam down the street is betting on a green energy revolution.
But unlike the cute dancing elephant in GE commercials, Immelt apparently is dancing for Obama no more. Here is a taste of Gasparino’s article:
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.
Or, as one friend recently put it to me, “Jeff thought he could make a difference, and now realizes he couldn’t.”
Immelt’s conversion from public Obama supporter to a private detractor is important: It shows how even businessmen who feast off his subsidies worry about his overall economic agenda and its long-term impact on the economy.
If the story checks out – Gasparino received a strong denial from GE – it would be the latest evidence that Obama’s “reset” with the business community lasted even less than time than his reset with Russia.
In December, Obama traveled to Osawatomie, Kansas, where he encouraged comparisons between his campaign and Theodore Roosevelt’s radically anti-business New Nationalism platform. The next month, White House Chief of Staff William Daley, whose appointment one year earlier signaled the administration’s new commitment to business, showed himself the door.
The story of Obama’s failed outreach provides a lesson in how government can best serve business – not by moving next door but by moving off the block. No one should ever look to Uncle Sam for a cup of sugar.