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Business Roundtable Takes Aim at White House and Congress

Posted by Larry Doyle on June 25, 2010 6:50 AM |

If the business of America is supposed to be business, then the leading businessmen in America are increasingly concerned that Washington does not understand that concept. How so?

The Business Roundtable voiced these concerns loudly and clearly the other day. Barack and team, are you listening? In case you missed it, here you go:


Concerned about the growing disconnect between Washington and business leaders, CEOs call for renewed partnership and commitment to fiscal discipline.

Washington – Today, in a speech at the Economic Club of Washington, Ivan G. Seidenberg, Chairman of Business Roundtable and Chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications, called on the Administration and Congress to re-examine public policy priorities and recommit to working with business leaders to expand the economy and grow private-sector jobs in the United States.

“We have become somewhat troubled by a growing disconnect between Washington and the business community that is harming our ability to expand the economy and grow private-sector jobs in the U.S.” said Seidenberg. “In our judgment, we have reached a point where the negative effects of the proposed policies are simply too significant to ignore.”

Seidenberg and friends are not pulling any punches. I have seen a number of releases of this type over the years. I am used to seeing standard pro-business posturing. I have never seen a statement as direct and as forceful as Seidenberg’s final statement.

Recall that in Obama’s State of the Union speech, he said:

“jobs must be our number-one focus in 2010….”

How do business leaders think he is doing? The Roundtable highlights:

In his speech, Mr. Seidenberg called attention to current and proposed policies that threaten to stifle economic growth. He also outlined a five-pronged plan to expand the economy and create jobs in the United States.

In outlining policies that are impeding growth, Mr. Seidenberg drew from a recent report compiled by Business Roundtable comprising a detailed list of policies identified by their member CEOs that are inhibiting the private sector’s ability to innovate, invest and create jobs. In Tuesday’s speech, Mr. Seidenberg highlighted three key areas of concern surfaced by the CEOs:

1. Inaction on trade threatens our nation’s international competitiveness and ability to attract export-driven jobs for U.S. workers.

2. Recent financial reform proposals on derivatives and proxy access will increase volatility and risk in the market.

3. The U.S. tax system puts American companies at a disadvantage relative to foreign competitors.

I do not blindly accept that each and every proposal as put forth by The Business Roundtable should be blindly accepted by Washington. In fact, in regard to the proxy access, I do believe the boardrooms of America should be much more open.

Obama and Congress can choose to stay the course and neglect to listen to America’s business leaders. Will they listen? I don’t believe they will. Why not? Obama strikes me as primarily concerned with redistributing wealth as opposed to creating it.

America’s vote this November will ultimately be a referendum on the Obama White House. That vote will speak volumes. If Obama does not care to listen to the business leaders, he may hear the same message from America.


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