Business claims a stake in Obama's cliff deal

Following his first news conference since the election, President Obama met with a dozen CEOs on Wednesday afternoon to signal a new start with a group that has viewed his administration as hostile to the business community.

By The Fiscal Times Nov 16, 2012 4:43PM
By Josh BoakThe Fiscal Times logo

Following his first news conference in eight months, President Obama met with a dozen CEOs on Wednesday afternoon to signal a new start with a group that has often viewed his administration as hostile to the business community. Attendees included the heads of Pepsi, Xerox, Walmart, Honeywell and American Express, but in a rebuff to Wall Street no major banks were invited.

The outreach effort comes as the Obama administration prepares for negotiations with Congressional Republicans aimed at avoiding the more than $600 billion worth of spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect in 2013 – and the business leaders gathered at the White House reportedly made clear to the president that steering clear of that fiscal cliff would be crucial if he wants to win the support of the business community.

The administration has a rocky history with the business world. Obama’s signature financial reform legislation—Dodd-Frank—caused a deep rift with Wall Street, partly because Elizabeth Warren, who had been targeted to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, nettled bankers with her direct and blunt style.

During the campaign, the administration’s attacks on Romney’s stewardship of Bain Capital made many leery of Obama. His “you didn’t build that” comment didn’t help mend fences either, and business people felt they were being singled out and demonized.

Three of the participants in Wednesday’s meeting served on Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. But Obama had scorned a recommendation by the council, led by General Electric’s Jeff Immelt — another attendee yesterday — to adopt a territorial system that excludes overseas income in the corporate tax reform framework released earlier this year.
“I think what the CEO of our nation needs to do is convene, set the agenda, and say we don't come out of the room until we've got a deal,” Bertolini said.

Corporate America has accepted the possibility of higher personal income taxes, but it has lobbied for an extension of the Bush-era tax rates for a year so that a broader tax overhaul can be discussed without the economy hanging in the balance.

Business leaders have been clamoring for action on the fiscal cliff and urging the president and Congress to delay the tax increases in favor of long-term tax reform. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent lawmakers a letter yesterday co-signed by 232 other business groups requesting the continuation.

Republicans also face pressure to uphold the lower income tax rates from conservative groups such as Americans for Prosperity, which has 2.3 million activists on its rolls and mobilized voter turnout during the election.

“We stand united in our opposition to using national security as a guise to raise taxes,” the letter by conservative groups said, “and to Congress going back on its word regarding reducing spending.”

Whether Obama is serious about forging alliances with business or simply playing for the cameras will be evidenced during the cliff negotiations. The next few weeks will determine whether Americans get presents under the tree or a lump of coal in their stockings.

Josh Boak is the National Correspondent at The Fiscal Times. Subscribe to The Fiscal Times' FREE newsletter.

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26Comments
Nov 26, 2012 2:05AM
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Don't forget the leaked Citi memo from several years ago:

Citigroup Plutonomy Report Part 2
Mar 5 2006

RISKS -- WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
Our whole plutonomy thesis is based on the idea that the rich will keep getting richer. This thesis is not without its risks. For example, a policy error leading to asset deflation, would likely damage plutonomy. Furthermore, the rising wealth gap between the rich and poor will probably at some point lead to a political backlash. Whilst the rich are getting a greater share of the wealth, and the poor a lesser share, political enfrachisement remains as was -- one person, one vote (in the plutonomies). At some point it is likely that labor will fight back against the rising profit share of the rich and there will be a political backlash against the rising wealth of the rich. This could be felt through higher taxation on the rich (or indirectly though higher corporate taxes/regulation) or through trying to protect indigenous [home-grown] laborers, in a push-back on globalization -- either anti-mmigration, or protectionism. We don’t see this happening yet, though there are signs of rising political tensions. However we are keeping a close eye on developments.



Nov 25, 2012 1:44PM
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OBAMA'S BEEN IN OFFICE FOR 4 YEARS DIDN'T PASS A BUDGET AND STILL ISNT' PASSING A BUDGET BUT HE'S PASSING

THE BUCK AND BLAME AGAIN ON REPUBLICANS BUT HE SQUEEKED BY IN THE ELECTION WITH VOTERS WHO ARE FING

BRAINWASHED WITH LIBERAL PROPGANDA AND FREE STUFF AND PROMISES FROM OBAMA AND DEMOCRATS BUT HAVE

DONE NOTHING TO HELP WITH ENERGY GAS AND FOOD PRICES EXCEPT PASS 900 REGULATIONS MORE TAXES AND

NOW OBAMACARE WHICH IS NOW PROVEN TO BE A ECONOMY KILLER AND WILL HURT THE MIDDLE CLASS AND POOR

WITH MORE HIDDEN TAXES AND FEES AND SMALL BUSINESS! YOU LIBERALS ARE JUST BIG GOVT UNION SOCIALIST!

THE DEMOCRAT PARTY HAS BEEN TAKEN OVER SOCIALIST! DON'T TALK ABOUT BENGHAZI LIES COVERUP FAST N FURIOUS

FAILED STIMULUS AND PAYOFFS AND HIGH ENERGY FOOD PRICES AND UNEMPLOYMENT!

Nov 25, 2012 12:33PM
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Lloyd Blankfein and other CEOs continue to convince middle class Conservatives that they should give up some of their Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, programs the middle class has paid into - so these mega-millionaires can continue to hide money in off-shore tax havens, and continue to get their multi-million-dollar-a-year salaries.

And the Conservative middle class shake their heads in agreement: "Yes Lloyd, we agree; the middle class, poor, and elderly should take less so you can have more. We wouldn't want to take away any of your money - we'll pay the difference so you can keep yours."

After all, tax havens are legal, right? - I wonder who advocated for them.
Nov 25, 2012 12:11PM
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"During the past few days, CEOs belonging to what the campaign calls its CEO Fiscal Leadership Council -- most visibly, Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein and Honeywell's David Cote -- have barnstormed the media, making the case that the only way to cut the deficit is to severely scale back social safety-net programs -- Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security -- which would disproportionately impact the poor and the elderly.

As part of their push, they are advocating a "territorial tax system" that would exempt their companies' foreign profits from taxation, netting them about $134 billion in tax savings, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies titled "The CEO Campaign to 'Fix' the Debt: A Trojan Horse for Massive Corporate Tax Breaks" -- money that could help pay off the federal budget deficit."


Article: CEO Council Demands Cuts To Poor, Elderly While Reaping Billions In Government Contracts, Tax Breaks
by Christina Wilkie and Ryan Grimm, Posted: 11/25/2012

Nov 24, 2012 4:44PM
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The Fiscal Cliff has many faces, and one of the faces is the perpetual opposition of Senator McCain to all the beneficial things president Obama wants to do for the economy, also the House of representatives is full of very antagonistic Tea party, and Republicans members that seems to have an a hearty pleasure in wanting to destroy Obama, and all of us the people!

The one that needs to retired is Senator McCain for his continues attack on the Obama’s administration, and his poor judgment in foreign policies since all the blunders he perpetuate in fomenting the Iraq war, and now his new attack trying to annihilate our Ambassador for the UN, Susan Rice.                                

The topic of discord about our UN Ambassador Susan Rice came up frequently in the news lately. The complaint coming from Senator McCain and Senator Graham saying   she purposely concealed information about the Bengahzi attack, and expressing their feelings she was not qualified to present the report to the American people. It was well understood by all listeners when she first gave the report it was only to inform the American public of the riots events at that time in Benghazi, and no more. When Mr. McCain said Miss Rice was not qualified to give the report of the attack, we got very upset to his wrong interpretation, much later to become and unjust persecution, and relentless discredit of the performance of our UN Ambassador. As it was confirm later, she was faithfully doing her assignment in the light of the unclassified document given to her of the situation in Benghazi at the time! The whole USA, knows well of Senator McClain erroneous selection, and protection of Sara Palin when running for VP, she evidently had the poorest qualifications for the job, she may have created a permanent irreparable damaged to our country had she been elected as a VP. With all our honest respects to the Senator, he has made other mistakes during his brilliant career. We think the Senator true motives for the creation of this newly pre meditated havoc over the unpredictable Benghazi attack is his dislike for our president Mr. Obama, and it’s is clearly showing. This worthless loss time the Senator is putting on a lackluster efforts in the persecution on the innocent UN Ambassador should stop, he should be concentrating eagerly on helping the America workers get fruitful paying jobs, and reducing the trillion of dollars Deficit Budget by helping increasing the tax to the very rich that have made millions with the sweat of the long oppress middle class since the Bush presidency!

Nov 24, 2012 12:00AM
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The companies picked were all Obama DONORS.  He's not reaching out to anyone new.  Same old partisan politics.  Same old LYING Obama.
Nov 22, 2012 10:03PM
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I read these comments and waonder why say anything. We had a vote and had achance to get rid of the repub tea partiers but no we voted them all back plus more in local government and then complain how bad things are or are still the same.  If want things to change for the better then you should have voted that way.  Americans seem to like being sh?t on and then come back for more.  Women vote their rights to be taken away and then complain and the  husbands vote the same but cry when their wives and children can't get health care.  Vote the way you want but don't complain it later.
Nov 20, 2012 11:50PM
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Surprise, Surprise! Republicans still control the house and it has to get through them to get anywhere. Up and until Reid changes the filibuster rule, the republican Senators can still block things in the Senate.  Things haven't changed at all. The Republicans lost a few seats, but not that much to change the status quo. Pelosi is getting some press, but Boehner still has control of the house for another 2 years.
Nov 20, 2012 4:08PM
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blah blah blah retarticans. Your Bullshyt didn't work before the election and won't work now. I love the idiots on the comment page crapping their pamper about how the presidents a socialist and a communist. Oh and how he's never had a job or run a business and the sky is falling. When you get rush limbdycks taint out of your mouth and get your head removed from Karl Rove's **** then maybe you will realize that the empty rhetoric has no impact.PLEASE keep it up so we can set up  Hillary Clinton/2016 and watch dems- make a 16year run. The next time you will see a republican president will be in a museum or on the history channel.  
Nov 19, 2012 12:33PM
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Republicans will never get it. There is more than one way to skin a cat. The country chose Obama to skin it - not them. We don't care what ideas they have to fix things. If we had wanted their fix we would have elected them. Whether they think the democrats' ideas are good or not is irrelevant. All of the ideas from both sides have positive and negative consequences. They all have nourishment laced with a little bit of poison. We picked our poison- Obama-  because at least we know he cares about the majority of us. The republicans on the other hand would rather see everything go to hell than have the high ups and better off people take even a little bit of pain.

 To tell the American public that the financially well off can't absorb a 3 % hike in taxes on their income when the majority have been absorbing 100% cuts in income via job losses, or 20% cuts via reduction to part time, or 10% cuts directly from full time paychecks that are 50,000 per year or less makes republicans sound moronic.  Their logic is if taxes go up jobs will be loss- of course  they ignore that if we go over the fiscal cliff jobs will be lost also, and I will wager we will lose much fewer jobs with the first scenario. Which means this is not about  maintaining jobs but about ideology and stubbornness on the part of the republicans. The Bush tax cuts were always meant to expire even if they had achieved what they were intended to achieve- which they didn't. They failed to create jobs even before the crash in 2008. Let them expire as originally intended and lets put a new tax plan on the table for the middle class. I am voting for a new Obama middle class tax plan and the death and burial of the Bush tax plan in it's entirety.
Nov 19, 2012 7:31AM
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obama is not anti business.  obama is a socialist/communist.  that means there are no businesses, there is only govt.  why cant the american people face the truth and get used to it.  capitalism and democracy, as they used to be are now bye-bye forever.  hail comrade obama.
Nov 18, 2012 1:03PM
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first he met with big unions and liberals!!!! that's where his loyalty is! give me a break! no small business leaders!

this socialist is a fing joke! never ran a business never had a real job! you people who still believe in him are anti american socialist!

Nov 17, 2012 10:19PM
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Wake up America!

It seems nothing has change, we just finish an election, and we have to listen to Ryan the liar advancing his wonderful ideas of how handle the coming Fiscal Cliff, this guy needs to realized, Mr.Obama is President. We just herd Mr.Boehner give his talk a few days ago about the Fiscal Cliff, and other economic situations he thinks he has the answer how to it fix, as usual! The things he said that infuriated many of us much was his statement that he wishes the elections had turned out another way, we thought it was an improper remark for the Speaker of the House to make, indicating one more time his personal feelings rather than showing a professional dedication to his job, lacking the vision to work fruitfully for the citizens of the USA. He’s contending us one more time in his own personal hypocritical super bully hero attitude! He has a recurrent amnesia problem like Mr. Romney had, and seems to be having troubles learning, and accepting from the American people the facts after the election. Sir, Mr.Boehner? Are you there in the House of Representatives? We just elected Mr. Obama as your President for another four years. We all truly hope you and your followers not trying to perpetuate the same old anxious lyrics coming from the mindless abusive House of Representatives, following yours and theirs perpetual intransigency and mental aberration in insisting in no tax increase for the rich, and emphatically suggesting cutting the entitlements programs. Your wrong ideology shows all of you wanting to sink our old citizens deeper in a hole of hunger, and to miser their health care. Come to your senses, all of old citizens in Medicare have earned their Medicare after years of dutiful work, but remember as you try your dirty tricks on them one more time, as you all well known for a long time the SS is not a part in any of these talks, so make sure not to monkey with it! Keep holding back America, and fighting for the very rich, while 46 million Americans are in poverty, and I promise, we will never ever forget all of you in the House of Representatives. Be smart, work for the people that have waited over four years to overcome your permanent intransigency in helping the American people, we put you there; it’s your responsibility to the people!

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