Obama to business: We must work together
February 7th, 2011
09:23 AM ET

Obama to business: We must work together

By CNNMoney Staff Reporter Charles Riley

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - President  Obama made the case Monday to business leaders that ramping up spending on education and infrastructure will promote economic growth and put the economy back on track.

"We need to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build our competitors," Obama told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "We need an economy that's based not on what we consume and borrow from other nations, but what we make and sell around the world."

Obama spoke before 200 members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a group that hasn't always been on friendly terms with the administration.

The president acknowledged the tensions, telling members of Washington's most powerful business lobby that "we've had some pretty strong disagreements." But the president also sought common ground, noting that the Chamber supported the 2009 Recovery Act.
"I'm here today because I'm convinced we can and must work together," Obama said, before laying out exactly what he plans to do to help American businesses compete on the global stage.

The federal government will work to improve transportation and communications networks, invest in education, provide research incentives, rebuild crumbling infrastructure and reform the corporate tax code, Obama said.

At the same time, Obama said Washington will keep spending under control, and that he will work with both parties to "take additional steps across the budget to put our nation on sounder fiscal footing."

Obama also said the government needs to reform its own structure, starting with the 12 different agencies that deal with America's exports.

"In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America," Obama said.

Monday's meeting is seen as another sign of the thawing relationship between the Obama administration and the business community. It took months to materialize after first being floated by the administration in November.

"I'm here in the interest of being more neighborly," Obama said. "Maybe we would have gotten off on a better foot if I had brought over a fruitcake when we first moved in."

For Obama, it means playing nice with a group that opposed many of his signature policies, and supported Republican candidates with gobs of cash during the midterm elections.

While the Chamber was playing hard nose politics, so was Obama. In the final days of the campaign, Obama used the Chamber as a political punching bag, and accused the group of funneling money from overseas to support Republican candidates.

But shortly after the election, both sides began to sing a different tune. Obama invited 20 CEOs to the White House for a conversation about the economy. And the Chamber supported free trade deal with South Korea forged by Obama.

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Phuyay

    It is either work with the business community or continue to have 9% plus unemployment right up to the election. In order to grow and to hire employees, Obama will have to reduce the regulatory burden on employees. I don't think he has it in him to move closer to the center, which will likely mean he will be defeated in 2012.

    February 7, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  2. Tosco

    REpublicans hate 80% of Americans and play dirty politics regardless of the consecuences for the Nation.

    February 7, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
  3. Jay in NC

    Tosco, Liberal politicians are the modern slave holders. They want to think for you, spend your money for you, tell you where to live, what to eat, tell you how much you can have for retirement, and tax you when you are dead, in other words be your master. I can not think of any thing more hateful than to own another human.

    February 8, 2011 at 11:02 am |