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

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs