What do business leaders really want?

WASHINGTON — Since capitalism is the nation’s official religion, President Obama must bow before business executives, who don’t believe he has been sufficiently fawning. It wasn’t enough for Obama to expend taxpayer funds, as his predecessor did, to save capitalism.

The president has had the effrontery to point out that free markets need sensible regulations to protect consumers from poisoned food, lead-laced toys and a reckless Wall Street — a position that has angered many among the mogul class. So, even with a roaring stock market and soaring corporate profits, Obama has been obliged to launch a charm offensive to re-assure the business executives that he’s no socialist.

This may be heresy, but here it is: The interests of Big Business and the needs of regular working Americans don’t always coincide. As just one example, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, newly appointed as the White House jobs czar, heads a company which relies increasingly on foreign markets for its profits and its workforce. Since Immelt took over in 2001, GE has shed tens of thousands of jobs here while adding tens of thousands abroad.

That trend is likely to continue, not just at GE but also at thousands of other U.S. companies as their managers find they can manufacture more cheaply abroad. They can also outsource accounting, engineering and technical support services, among others.

That’s why Obama emphasized “our generation’s Sputnik moment” in his State of the Union speech. He laid out a plan to rebuild our economic foundation with targeted spending in such areas as modernizing our infrastructure — everything from ancient sewerage to dangerous bridges to aging electric grids. “We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world,” he said.

His call for new spending on research, education and infrastructure ought to make him the new poster child for business-friendly politics. For years, business executives have called for better public schools and more spending on highways, bridges and rail.

But Obama’s initiative also brings the backroom politics of the business lobby under scrutiny. Newer bridges and better schools may be a priority, but those issues are not as dear as keeping taxes low and keeping government regulations off the books. Emasculating the Environmental Protection Agency is more important than beating the Chinese at high-speed rail and solar panels. That’s why the business lobby spent millions last year to elect Republicans who would fight anything Obama proposed — infrastructure spending included.

That’s a bit awkward for Georgia’s business and political leaders, who have campaigned long and hard for $105 million in federal funds to deepen Savannah’s port. Now that the House has been taken over by no-new-spending, earmark-hating Republicans, where will the money come from?

“I just think it’s about priorities,” said Georgia Chamber of Commerce CEO Chris Clark. “We’re not going to Washington asking for more money, more taxes. . . The president said we’ve got to be about jobs, and this project will produce jobs all over the Southeast.”

Georgia may get the money — with help from a well-connected Democrat. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has gone to the White House to to promote the Savannah port. (The process would have been easier if Republicans had not campaigned against earmarks, which would have allowed local Congressmen or Senators to quietly tuck the money into the budget.)

But the Savannah ports expansion will have to survive a starve-the-beast attitude toward government endorsed by the very politicians who are most favored by the business lobby. Bashing the government may keep taxes low, but it doesn’t lay a foundation for longterm economic growth.

143 comments Add your comment

Scout

January 29th, 2011
10:55 am

‘We need a new president!

‘Thousands of demonstrators moved through the streets of Cairo today with an oft-repeated message. “We don’t need a new government, we need a new president.”

Hey President Obama …………. they need you !

DannyX

January 29th, 2011
11:04 am

Speaking of Bookman’s blog, is he still exposing all the sock puppets?

Maybe that’s why so many hate Bookman. He exposes all the cowardly posers.

Hey Bookman……..we need you here !

Kamchak

January 29th, 2011
11:19 am

Moronorium Personified

The trolls here are the same ones that are a JB’s, they are merely using more sock-puppets Most, if not all of the troll comments here are made by 3-5 different individual. Some of JB’s crowd don’t even comment here, they just read the posts and the gossip girls run back home to JB’s and report/leg hump those they are obsessed with.

Kamchak

January 29th, 2011
11:22 am

Danny X

I don’t know that he has ever exposed anyone except those that he has banned. What he will not tolerate is one person conversing with them self via multiple sock-puppets.

quick

January 29th, 2011
11:46 am

What does CT know about “laying an economic foundaton”??..She dosen’t even understand basic business principles muchless global economies…And for you complaining about jobs going offshore…get over it…The entire world is doing it…If my company hadn’t outsourced to compete globally muchless locally it would have gone out of business and any more jobs would have been lost…we still have plenty of jobs, and have been hiring as well…just not the high labor low education jobs…we had to shift our business model but who hasn’t…If you want more companies to expand in the US then stop penalizing them for being here…The US labor market has to compete with govt subsudized ones like China and that’s not the fault of the US

Kamchak

January 29th, 2011
11:58 am

And for you complaining about jobs going offshore…get over it…The entire world is doing it…

If “the entire world is doing it,” where then are these jobs going?

Off planet?

Oy to the vey!

DannyX

January 29th, 2011
12:19 pm

No thanks quick. We can do without it.

All the major corporations from the Atlanta area are attending the “How to Outsource” seminar this week. If they aren’t trying to export good American jobs, then they are usually trying to hire illegal aliens.

In Georgia we are about to change our whole tax system so the “world economy” corporations in Georgia can stop paying taxes.

We get the attention of all our elected leaders when something like our ports need expanding. In Atlanta we get Lexus Lanes, Georgia Power Give-a-Ways, special transportation tax, elimination of state Homestead exemption, and expansion of state sales tax.

Our rich keep getting richer, our middle class keeps shrinking. Its too bad, oh well, in order for this global economy to work we need to sacrifice. Guess what the sacrifice is? The middle class.

Shucks. If Cynthia would just realize all that and shut up. The new goal of our economy is to keep our corporate masters happy. We must have made them mad. If Cynthia keeps quiet maybe they will stop reducing benefits and stuff. We must repent.

Lets show the corporations some love. The perfectly fine Georgia Dome needs to be imploded. Our local corporations would love the gesture a big fancy suite filled stadium would make.

Start showing some corporate love Atlanta.

james

January 29th, 2011
12:21 pm

real definition of “sock puppet”- someone who have never hired an employee, gives nothing to society, but seems to have endless hours to blog and complain about what others don’t do for them

Kamchak

January 29th, 2011
12:25 pm

And right on cue — the guilty dog barks first.

Too funny!

james

January 29th, 2011
12:32 pm

Nope little Kam- will employ over 100 more folks. Glad to get you involved my main man- tell me where and when. Until then enjoy your daily scrum with your weird little bed fellows to forestall the bitterness.

james

January 29th, 2011
12:34 pm

You will most likely come back with something cutesy like “an I am the queen of England”

You are construction, correct? Just bout a 2006 case cx80r hydraulic excavator- do you know how to operate or are you a poser?

Kamchak

January 29th, 2011
2:06 pm

I’m a carpenter sport, not a heavy equipment operator.

Scout

January 29th, 2011
2:15 pm

Kammy:

Have you ever hit your finger with a hammer ?

Kamchak

January 29th, 2011
2:18 pm

Have you ever hit your finger with a hammer ?

Do bears bear?

Do bees bee?

Scout

January 29th, 2011
2:29 pm

Scout

January 29th, 2011
2:32 pm

“When asked if Mubarak was a dictator, Biden responded, “Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things and he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interests in the region, Middle East peace efforts, the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing the relationship with Israel … I would not refer to him as a dictator.”

Well, there you go.

quick

January 29th, 2011
2:35 pm

Kam..the jobs that have gone to China, India, Viet Nam etc are labor jobs that would have displaced with automation anyway…Right now outsource is more effective…You can blame the Gov and corporations all you want, but the guilty party is the consumer…period

Scout

January 29th, 2011
2:38 pm

“Georgia authorities say a mom checked her son and his friends out of school to help her rob a bank”

Now that’s what I call parental involvement !

Scout

January 29th, 2011
2:39 pm

quick :

We’re sending jobs to the Viet Cong ?

quick

January 29th, 2011
2:46 pm

you betcha jobs are going there…it’s the new China
I’s hard to compete with what is essentially slave labor…
If there was a market for an american made frying pan at 4X the cost…someone would step up and make it….”Buy Amaerican” is and was all talk….people buy on price

Kamchak

January 29th, 2011
2:48 pm

…but the guilty party is the consumer…period

Does the consumer share in the blame?

You betcha.

But when corporate profits become the be all and end all, rationalization, such as you are displaying here, and being taught in all those Econ 101 Phlogiston Economics classes becomes the excuse to play the automation/union/burdensome business tax/etc… card.

Kamchak

January 29th, 2011
2:50 pm

If there was a market for an american made frying pan at 4X the cost…someone would step up and make it…

Not familiar with the company All-Clad, are you?

quick

January 29th, 2011
2:56 pm

LOL…What do you think corporations are supposed to do…of course it is to profit as much as possible….for who???…the consumer aka stockholder that is who is demanding higher profits which includes everyone with a 401k
You can complain about it all you want but it is what it is…once China opened it borders all bets were off we could have boycotted, and protested all we wanted and it wouldn’y have stopped the momentum…Don’t blame the execs…if a corp/board of directors/stockholders are willing to pay big bucks for someone who knows how to make the profitable…whose to blame?

Scout

January 29th, 2011
2:58 pm

quick:

V.C. numba’ 10 !

quick

January 29th, 2011
3:00 pm

I apologize for the fat fingers….I just found my glasses LOL

quick

January 29th, 2011
3:03 pm

All Clad prves my point

Kamchak

January 29th, 2011
3:04 pm

All Clad prves[sic] my point

How’s that?

quick

January 29th, 2011
3:14 pm

All Clad makes a quality product that a certain market share are willing to pay extra….If a quality knock off were to show up from China at 25% the price of All Clad, which one do you think is gonna sell the most volume? All Clad will have no choice but to either outsource or lose more market share, layoff employees, and possibly go out of business
I think they are privately owned and likely may not face the same pressure a publicly owned company. I’d also be willing to bet that thet get some local tax breaks

Kamchak

January 29th, 2011
3:28 pm

All-Clad makes a world class quality product that most professionals and a good many home cooks are more than willing to pay extra for. I buy it because it is heirloom quality cookware that will last several lifetimes and I can pass it on.

I tried to purchase a 2 qt. stainless sauce pan at Cook’s Warehouse last Christmas and couldn’t because they had sold out, so it is not a small market.

I own 4 pieces and the only piece made in China is the lid for my saucier. The lid is not made using their process of sandwiching an aluminum core between two layers of stainless steel. I’m not happy about that, but I am confident that they will continue making their cook ware (minus lids) here in the U.S.

So as to your earlier point, “If there was a market for an american made frying pan at 4X the cost…someone would step up and make it…” there is one. Just because you aren’t aware of it, doesn’t mean that it is nonexistent.

quick

January 29th, 2011
3:36 pm

I didn’t say nonexistent…but All Clad is targeted market is compared to whole frying pan market..
Sooner or later China will be able to make that lid as the same quality as All Clad…Fact is China is going after the rest of the world market aka the “fat rabbit”….once that market is saturated they will go after the All Clad market and will do so on price…and they will win
Niche markets are some of the best, but they are limited by definition

Soames

January 29th, 2011
3:56 pm

DeborahinAthens @ 8:32am

When did the Chinese government start offering their workers free healthcare? When did the Chinese governemtn start subsidizing college education?

GE, Caterpillar. Disney etc. have moved into China because it is an emerging market and that’s where the next ‘boom’ will be. Of course these companies had to give up some intellectual property rights before the Chinese government allowed them access to their market which is contradictory to the WTO trade rules that the China agreed to. Also, China keeps their currency artificially devalued to subsidize their exports. By controlling their manufacturing segment and providing a broad range of subsidies to various industries, American manufacturing and the middle class are fighting a battle with one hand tied behind their backs.

It seems you are the one who doesn’t know one body part from another.

Back to your partisan bickering…blahblahblah

Kamchak

January 29th, 2011
4:44 pm

Back to your judgmental throne…blahblahblah

quick

January 29th, 2011
4:49 pm

To Soames point…We are teaching them how to kick our butt…whether it be infrnged IP,
sharing confidential mfg practices, or just plain backwards engineering….because of the flood of out sourcing to China they have been able to leap frong many technology gaps compared to other countries…Idia, Viet Nam, Korea, South America, etc have taken notice of China’s booming income influx…so they are opening up to the same…which is kinda good…China is now having to face competition…It will be interesting to see who can bankrupt who first…like Reagans plan to bankrupt the USSR for democracy a similar model could be said for China….why do you think they groused of our recent dollar devaluation….they have to devalue their own even more

quick

January 29th, 2011
5:00 pm

Kam…even further All Clad likely outsouced the ld to China to offset costs…they obviously know where their price point is or they would have made it in PA and raised the price or lost margin…I’ll bet they are on 8% ish margins now…
Now fuel cost really start to add in…I saw a 20lb cast iron weight (barbell type) with a made in China on it…surely it cost more to ship it than make it…If fuel goes increases so will the cost to ship a container…and possible return to some balance…on the backs of consumers of course

Zoey

January 29th, 2011
6:48 pm

Enter your comments here

Paddy O

January 29th, 2011
7:02 pm

the solution is tariffs. excise tariff on a per unit basis & a “wage equalization tariff”. You would also need to bleach your union contracts, such that much of the resource wasting union ego is removed from the contract, to make American workers competitive but not poor. The key is to balance the US budget so you can reduce taxes on corporate America, and the populace. It is very ironic that Obama appointed Immelt, who has off shored a whole bunch of jobs – did the PResident even review GE business practices, or would that have required too much concentration from ADHD Barack?

Keep it up CT until their heads explode

January 29th, 2011
7:13 pm

Also the director of IT for the WH is of Indian descent. Kinda sends the wrong message to all the unemployed IT workers whose jobs were offshored or were replaced with Indian and Chinese visa holders.

Kamchak

January 29th, 2011
7:29 pm

You would also need to bleach your union contracts, such that much of the resource wasting union ego is removed from the contract, to make American workers competitive but not poor.

I thought that the key to U.S. prosperity and job growth is through small businesses. How many small businesses are unionized?

Paddy O

January 29th, 2011
7:54 pm

Kam – they define a “small business” as having less than 500 employees. You need major factories here. Also, if it is a genuinely small plant (less than 50), I would be skeptical of the union presence. I believe neither Kia nor Honda are union shops, as is Delta. In NJ the cashiers at your grocery stores are unionized.

Paddy O

January 29th, 2011
7:56 pm

My brothers data entry job – which dealt with retirement accounts & a whole lot of personal data – was off shored to India – they told him they could hire 3 folks in India to replace him at the same cost. The business he was employed at was started by a US Senator.

Paddy O

January 29th, 2011
8:05 pm

quick – the large increase in container freight shipped from China I believe is what has diesel fuel to be higher than regular gas prices, which is an abnormality. REsource depletion wise, it makes no sense to manufacture a product in China & ship it to GA. Products for domestic use should be produced domestically. HOwever, comparative advantage is why BMW & Mercedes make their cars here in the south – are they union shops??

Keep it up CT until their heads explode

January 29th, 2011
8:15 pm

In Germany BMW and Mercedes cannot import ANY parts for their vehicles. The tariffs are extremely high for ANY imported good that is also produced in Germany.
That is one of the reasons they still have a sound manufacturing base.

Keep it up CT until their heads explode

January 29th, 2011
8:16 pm

Also how much does it cost to ship the EMPTY containers somewhere since we don’t seem to be exporting many goods