Obama launches new push for US jobs, tapping GE's Immelt to help
The economy is 'not growing fast enough yet,' Obama acknowledged Friday, speaking to GE workers in Schenectady, N.Y. Will GE's CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, prove to be his guide to building a more competitive America?
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The selection of Immelt, one of America's most prominent chief executive officers, comes after Mr. Obama has convened a CEO summit, pledged a looser regulatory hand, and made other moves designed to persuade employers that they should start hiring and investing in the US again.
"The economy is in a different place" than two years ago, Obama told workers at a GE plant in Schenectady, N.Y. But, though the economy is again growing after a deep recession, the president acknowledged that "it's not growing fast enough yet."
Faster private-sector job creation holds the key to bringing down unemployment and restoring paychecks to about 8 million Americans whose jobs disappeared during the recession.
"Immelt understands first-hand what it means to grow a business and create jobs," said a Friday statement by John Engler, president of the Business Roundtable, which represents some of the largest US companies. "We thank President Obama for his excellent choice, and we will work closely with Immelt and the rest of the Council to enact the proposals we need to put Americans back to work, boost demand and get our economy moving again.”
Obama held up exports as a core goal, arguing that for a decade the US economy has relied too heavily on debt-financed consumption by its own citizens.
"[Overseas is] where the customers are, it's that simple," Obama said. "We're going back to Thomas Edison's principles.... We're going to build stuff and invent stuff."
Inventor Edison was a founding father of GE. The Schenectady plant now makes power-generating turbines that the company markets globally, including a recent sale in India.
How much can the Immelt-headed panel achieve?
For the economy, it might yield some new job-creation proposals that enjoy bipartisan support. At the least, to the degree that it improves business perceptions of the Obama administration, it could help nudge employers toward hiring.