Obama to US companies: Time to hire and invest is now
Obama's speech Monday to US Chamber of Commerce outlined plans to encourage innovation and business investment. But he also urged US companies to get off sidelines and 'invest in America.'
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“President Obama has retooled his rhetoric, but not his job-destroying policies, which are eroding confidence, fostering uncertainty, and crowding out private investment,” Speaker Boehner said in a statement.Skip to next paragraph
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Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell zeroed in on the free trade issue, praising Obama’s support of the South Korean free trade agreement but criticizing the lack of action on deals with Colombia and Panama.
“It won’t be enough for Republicans and it shouldn’t be enough for the business community to allow the administration’s trade agenda to start and end with South Korea,” Senator McConnell said. “We should be passing all pending trade agreements and inking new ones on a bipartisan basis – even when it requires the president bringing his own party along.”
Progressive activists on trade were equally unhappy.
“It's unclear what is more mortifying: President Barack Obama choosing the club of America's notorious job-offshorers to talk about the importance of creating American jobs, or his rallying of his fiercest political opponents to help him overcome the majority of Americans who oppose more-of-the-same job-killing trade agreements and pass a NAFTA-style deal with Korea that the government's own analysis shows will increase our trade deficit,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, in a statement.
The divide between labor and business isn’t necessarily as sharp as some reactions indicated. After Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 25, the nation’s top labor leader, Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO, and the Chamber’s Mr. Donohue issued a joint statement praising Obama’s speech.
“America’s working families and business community stand united in applauding President Obama’s call to create jobs and grow our economy through investment in our nation’s infrastructure,” the leaders said.
Obama began his speech Monday by joking about how his relationship with the Chamber – located just a quick walk away on the other side of Lafayette Park, across from the White House – got off to a bad start two years ago.
“I’m here in the interest of being more neighborly,” the president said. “Maybe we would have gotten off on a better foot if I had brought over a fruitcake when we first moved in.”
Atmospherics aside, the real bottom line is how the economy – and the jobless rate – does in the months ahead. If it continues to recover, and more Americans return to work, those unhappy with Obama’s approach will have less to complain about.