News / USA

    Obama Challenges Business Leaders to 'Get Off the Sidelines' to Create Jobs

    President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington, February 7, 2011
    President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington, February 7, 2011

    In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday, President Barack Obama urged the nation's business community to "get off the sidelines" and fully engage with him to help create jobs. The president challenged business leaders to work with the government to get the country through tough economic times.

    It was a short walk across Lafayette Park in front of the White House to the Chamber of Commerce for remarks that were part of Obama's fence-mending with leaders of American business.

    It was his first address to an organization representing some 3 million companies and a major force in Washington politics, with a powerful lobbying operation on Capitol Hill.

    Watch Mil Arcega's Companion TV Report:

    The president has had a rocky relationship with the U.S. business community, with Obama being labeled - he says unfairly and inaccurately - as anti-business during the first two years of his administration.

    Tensions were seen before last year's midterm congressional elections as the administration and the chamber traded charges over the issue of campaign contributions. Obama also faced opposition from the business community to his sweeping health care reform law and financial system reform.

    After joking that he came in the interest of being "more neighborly," and saying he recognized there had been disagreements on key issues, the president urged business leaders to "get off the sidelines" and invest in America's future.

    "Now is the time to invest in America," said Obama. "Today, American companies have nearly $2 trillion sitting on their balance sheets and I know that many of you have told me that you are waiting for demand to rise before you get off the sidelines and expand, and that with millions of Americans out of work, demand has risen more slowly than any of us would like. We are in this together."

    As in his State of the Union Address, Obama spoke about "winning the future" by making the United States more competitive. He also pointed to export deals with China and India, and a free trade agreement with South Korea that he said will be the model for similar accords the administration is pursuing with Panama and Colombia.

    The president said he is confident that the federal government and business can work together to boost the economy, mentioning administration efforts to eliminate burdensome regulations.

    But he said that although he understands the pressures businesses face to cut costs and serve shareholders they also have a responsibility to help middle class Americans - too many of whom, he said, have been "left in the mud."

    "We cannot go back to the kind of economy and culture that we saw in the years leading up to the recession, where growth and gains in productivity just didn't translate into rising incomes and opportunity for the middle class. That's not something necessarily that we can legislate, but it is something that all of us have to take responsibility for thinking about."

    The president received a tepid reaction from those in the audience to some of his remarks, especially those about regulation and export promotion. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the president was not seeking applause, but that he sought to encourage a process of cooperation.

    "I think the president is clear that we are not going to agree on everything, and we have seen some of that transpire over the past two years," said Gibbs. "But as the president has said, we're not looking to refight the battles of the last two years. We've got significant challenges that continue to lay ahead of us, and the only way we are going to make progress is to tackle those challenges together."

    Part of President Obama's signals to the business community that he is seeking a better relationship with corporate America has been appointments he has made, including his new White House Chief of Staff William Daley, who has strong business ties.

    Obama also has named the chairman and chief executive of General Electric to a new commission to give the president advice on job creation and making the Untied States more competitive.

    Reacting to Obama's remarks to the Chamber of Commerce, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ohio Republican John Boehner, said the president has created new barriers to job creation and has pursued policies that erode confidence, foster uncertainty and "crowd out private investment.

    You May Like

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.