Obama Sidles Up to the People Not Creating Jobs

From the Department of reading the wrong message in an election is this news, of Timmeh Geithner meeting with the Chamber of Commerce’s odious Thomas Donohue to talk about international issues (read: “let’s talk about other countries we can ship American jobs to”).

But this week, the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, met with the chief executive, Thomas J. Donohue, to discuss international economic issues. In his news conference on Wednesday, Mr. Obama came close to conceding the chamber’s main argument, that American businesses had concluded — wrongly, in Mr. Obama’s view — that his policies were antibusiness.

“I think business took the message that, well, gosh, it seems like we may be always painted as the bad guy,” Mr. Obama told reporters. He acknowledged that a relationship with the business community had not been “managed by me as well as it needed to be.”


“I’ve got to take responsibility in terms of making sure that I make clear to the business community as well as to the country that the most important thing we can do is to boost and encourage our business sector, and make sure that they’re hiring,” Mr. Obama said. “We do have specific plans in terms of how we can structure that outreach.”

The outreach includes the meeting this week between Mr. Geithner and Mr. Donohue, according to an administration official briefed on the discussions. The pair talked about the president’s coming Asia trip, including issues relating to the Group of 20 economic meeting, China and South Korea, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

Now, on its face, this is about Obama’s renewed push to sign a Free Trade agreement with South Korea, a country with no intention of engaging in Fair Trade with us.

But the Administration appears to want it to symbolize something larger–outreach to the people who have to start creating jobs to get our economy running again.

There’s a problem with that.

First of all, there’s the problem of the national Chamber’s increasing irrelevance to real American businesses. Individual companies are finding the Chamber’s willful ignorance to be detrimental to their business interests and general grounding in reality. Local Chambers are making an explicit point of distinguishing themselves from the national Chamber. And it’s not really clear whether the US Chamber of Commerce represents American companies more generally, or rather foreign business.

So at a time when both local Chambers of Commerce and individual corporations are signaling the national Chamber does not represent their interests, then why choose the Chamber as target for outreach? Why not reach out to those splintering from the Chamber’s explicitly anti-Democratic stance?

Furthermore, the companies whose interests the Chamber largely did boost this election have no interest in hiring. With money so cheap (thanks Helicopter Ben), they’re better off just playing more financial games than actually making something someone wants to buy.

Sure, Obama needs to listen to businesses to learn a little something about what will keep or create jobs in this country. But talking to Thomas Donohue about how to ship jobs away is not the way to do that.

  1. beguiner says:

    “And it’s not really clear whether the US Chamber of Commerce represents American companies more generally, or rather foreign business.”

    That is the crux of it all. The new Republican Governors in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio appear intent on killing the high speed rail projects that were recently funded. The Spanish rail car company, Talgo, had agreed to build a plant in Milwaukee to manufacture passenger rail car that are suitable for high speed. Part of the reason for choosing Milwaukee was the proposed HSR line to Madison (eventually Minneapolis) and the line to Chicago. Killing HSR will also kill the proposed Talgo plant.

    Why would the US Chamber of Commerce back candidates that actively seek to kill manufacturing and infrastructure?

    • bobbyk says:

      The company I work for is in the process of signing an agreement with an outsourcing company to take over 3-4 hundred IT jobs. Our company workers’ are going to lose their jobs to foriegn IT workers-this in a depression economy. The people that lose their jobs have NO chance to find new ones.

      Remember when the elites told us these types of jobs would replace all the manufacturing jobs we’ve been losing?

      • KrisAinCA says:

        I’m sad to say I work for a company that advertises itself as the “Global leader in outsourcing and offshoring” for IT related services. It really rubs me the wrong way when I think about it.

        But business is booming, and my administrative HR position is secure.

        • bobbyk says:

          Well, at least you have a job! It’s to bad the company you work for does that type of work though. Need any more IT workers? :-)

      • KrisAinCA says:

        Remember when the elites told us these types of jobs would replace all the manufacturing jobs we’ve been losing?

        And yeah, wasn’t that the whole Reaganomics, service based economy idea?

    • liberaldem says:

      They are not interested in American jobs. They’re only interested in maximizing profits for shareholders of the multinational companies that pay the U.S. Chamber for lobbying for their interests.

  2. JamesJoyce says:

    America’s liberation lies in innovation, but China will harvest the sun. China can provide 9 billion in funding for solar manufacturing, but America can find none? Today it reported that gas prices are rising as result of fed policy. Just what America needs, higher energy costs, to drive inflation and undermine liberty. Americans… like fruit, rotting on the vine. Eight dollars wasted for every ten dollars spent, for the necessity of transportation. What a waste!

    • alan1tx says:

      SAN FRANCISCO — Solyndra, a Silicon Valley solar-panel maker that won half a billion dollars in federal aid to build a state-of-the-art robotic factory, plans to announce on Wednesday that it will shut down an older plant and lay off workers.

      The cost-cutting move, which will reduce the company’s previously announced production capacity, is a sign of the notable shift in the prospects for cutting-edge American solar companies, which now face intense price competition from Chinese manufacturers that use more established photovoltaic technologies.

      Just seven weeks ago, Solyndra opened Fab 2, a $733 million factory in Fremont, Calif., to make its high-tech solar panels. The new plant was supposed to be the first phase of a rapid expansion of the company.

      Instead, Solyndra has decided to shutter the old plant and postpone plans to expand Fab 2, which was built with a $535 million federal loan guarantee.

      • KrisAinCA says:

        Beautiful facility, though, that Fab 2! Hell of a traffic jam when Obummer came in to check it out.

        BTW, I think the old plant that they’re talking about shutting is the plant that Fab 2 replaced. It’s right next door. My understanding, for some time now, has been that Fab 2 was built as a replacement plant and the old building was only going to be used for its administrative space.

        There was no talk of layoffs, though. Not when Mr. Hopey McChangey was here.

        I wonder how long until we can buy Chinese manufactured, lead-based solar panels at Super Wal*Marts…

  3. JamesJoyce says:


    “In July 2008, Americans were paying $4.11 per gallon of gasoline—nearly three times the price six years earlier, according to the Energy Information Administration. Most people have felt the pinch of higher energy prices, but those hurt the most have been moderate-income families who struggle to buy gas for their cars and to heat and cool their homes. Although prices have now fallen because of the current global economic problems, the longer-term trend of rising energy prices will continue. Many of the 70 million U.S. households making less than $60,000 a year will find it increasingly difficult to cope.”

    Yup! Its that “servitude” thing again!

  4. MadDog says:

    OT here, but tied to bmaz’s previous post, but hopefully not irrelevant – just out via the AFP:

    US still investigating waterboarding torture: official

    A senior US official said on Friday that waterboarding was clearly outlawed as torture, with an investigation still under way to see if those who ordered such a practice could be prosecuted…

    …Harold Koh, legal adviser at the US State Department, said…”I think that the Obama administration defines waterboarding as torture as a matter of law under the convention against torture and as part of our legal obligation… it’s not a policy choice,” Koh told journalists after being asked about the report.

    Asked whether the United States was still considering investigation or federal prosecution of those who might have ordered such a practice in the past, Koh said the matter was being examined by Special Prosecutor John Durham in Connecticut.

    “Those investigations are ongoing. So the question is not whether they would consider it, they’re going on right now,” he explained…

    Who knows whether Koh is in the loop on this stuff, but I thought I’d pass it along.

  5. Mauimom says:

    American businesses had concluded — wrongly, in Mr. Obama’s view — that his policies were antibusiness.

    So if the vampire lobby came in and whined to Obama that his policies were “anti-vampire,” I have no doubt he’d reconsider and adapt to create things more to their liking.

    Wait, isn’t that just what he’s doing here and with the banks?

  6. donbacon says:

    SecState Clinton is in New Zealand.
    Christchurch Trade Reception Hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    November 5, 2010

    SecState Clinton’s remarks (excerpt)

    Hundreds of American companies have made their homes here, including well-known names like Pratt & Whitney and Citibank, Microsoft, Exxon-Mobil and so many others. They know what more and more companies are coming to realize, that New Zealand is a great place to do business. And during the past two decades, you have built a competitive economy and the United States has been your partner and supporter in doing so.

    We are looking for ways to broaden and deepen our economic ties and build on the strong foundation we already have. And we think that the Trans Pacific Partnership is a very exciting opportunity. This multilateral free trade agreement would bring together nine countries located in the Asia Pacific region – New Zealand and the United States, Australia, Chile, Singapore, Brunei, Peru, Vietnam, and Malaysia. By eliminating most tariffs and other trade barriers, and embracing productive policies on competition, intellectual property, and government procurement, we can spur greater trade and integration not only among the participating countries, but as a spur to the entire region.[snip]

    We highly admire New Zealand and what you have achieved on so many fronts, and we look forward to working with you to make the Wellington Declaration a real platform for action between governments, between private sectors, between civil society, and giving me another excuse to come back sometime in the future. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

    Clinton didn’t mention the ongoing trade imbalance with New Zealand.
    2006 -$310m
    2007 – 395
    2008 – 636
    2009 – 399

    New Zealand’s population is smaller than Kentucky’s — but it is an entre into the Pacific region where the US seeks to widen trade (i.e. job exports and goods/services imports) with low-cost, high-population countries and thus exacerbate the US employment problem.

    • jdmckay0 says:

      SecState Clinton is in New Zealand.
      Christchurch Trade Reception Hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce

      So Hillary’s avoiding post-election tsunami hanging out a few latitudes and longitudes below down-under… in some Church. Only way she could be further is set up a microphone on So. pole and talk to the penguins.

      No flys on Hillary.

      Would be fun to hear her innermost thoughts about now, just for (to quote what’s her name) shits’n giggles.

      • thatvisionthing says:

        Christchurch is a place in New Zealand, but I do know of a fabulous church window in Rotorua New Zealand: It overlooks a bay and so looks like Maori Jesus is walking on water. Just wondering if the Oval Office window looks out onto the fountain, maybe…

  7. Broadstreetbuddy says:

    OT – KO donates to three Democrats for their campaigns thereby breaking NBC rules . . . i thought Olbermann was smarter than that.

      • Broadstreetbuddy says:

        Well yeah that was obvious. But when its against the rules of his employer and Fox news just got caught doing the same thing for the other side, why would he give anybody an opening like that to attack his credibility? I mean he does lean forward, i mean left, but he does come with the facts on his side. To do this is just to give anybody an easy attack point that didnt need to be exposed.

  8. econobuzz says:

    The answer to unemployment in this country is free trade with nations for whom “free trade” is not in their national interest?

    Massive fail.

  9. alank says:

    And the further out this goes, the more the skills to make things atrophy till you reach a point where you have on a hunter and gatherer economy with people living in grass huts.

  10. bluewombat says:

    Despite what the OP says, I feel it’s important for Obama to reach out to the Republicans and their corporatist patrons and go halfway to meet them, no matter how far to the extreme right they go. If he didn’t, I wouldn’t recognize him as a Washington Democrat, and a severe case of cognitive dissonance would swiftly ensue.

  11. jedimsnbcko19 says:

    The US Chamber is basically own by non USA companies or transnational companies who can care less about the USA homeland

    Again I must ask is Harvard over rated?

    Obama says he just realized the economy was a major issue wednesday, and he also thinks this is a great time to off shore more USA jobs?

  12. acmavm says:

    I like these guys in this administration about as much as I liked the thugs in the last one. Trust me on this, these people are VERY VERY fortunate that they will never have to depend on me for anything like CPR or the Heimlich. I think I could smile while watching the life seep out of their worthless hides. Like they’re smiling while watching the people of this country being strangled and suffocated by their greed and dishonesty.

  13. JohnLopresti says:

    Maybe a deal with South Korea would help the Obama administration*s Federal Communications Commission broadband plan. Ars Tecnica reported 10 months ago results of an Akamai study dated 3Q09 showing South Korea stood first in average bandwidth, though Ars questions the survey*s reliance on per capita, in contrast to per household, statistics; there.

  14. Nathan Aschbacher says:

    I’m of the opinion that the only reason any of this looks like it’s “from the Department of reading the wrong message in an election is this news” is that we’re generally still following a false assumption that the Obama administration gives a shit about winning elections, or having Democrats win elections.

    After everything we’ve observed with the Obama admin going way out of its way to further disenfranchise the Democratic base at every opportunity, how can we possibly still be clinging to the idea that they care about electoral results. Specifically as they relate to having more liberals elected?

  15. mzchief says:

    Now, on its face, this is about Obama’s renewed push to sign a Free Trade agreement with South Korea, a country with no intention of engaging in Fair Trade with us.

    At least an unnecessary move IMO. Samsung (I had a very instructive experience with these folks in a manufacturing setting) and LG are not to be underestimated either, I don’t think. And, S. Korea has one of the most closed economies (goods and services go out, but goods and services don’t necessarily go in except for the young Americans going to do skills transfer and English language training).

    Individual companies are finding the Chamber’s willful ignorance to be detrimental to their business interests and general grounding in reality. Local Chambers are making an explicit point of distinguishing themselves from the national Chamber. And it’s not really clear whether the US Chamber of Commerce represents American companies more generally, or rather foreign business.

    I think the US Chamber of Commerce is not only irrelevant– just like the SBA– but antithetical to American commerce that brings, roots and sustains American infrastructure investment/improvement and jobs. Good for the local chambers that repudiate them. I am appreciative of Ford’s recent response (hattip David Dayen;”Obama Goes to Korea, Pining for Free Trade Agreements,” Nov. 4, 2010) and, because of it, I will continue to consider buying the Explorer, F series trucks and the Wankel-engine-propelled Mazda– especially if Ford keeps its Kentucky plants going, Americans employed doing meaningfully work and at a fair wage with actual benefits.

  16. robbep says:

    If we are lucky Issa will find a reason to impeach him and get him out of our hair. With Pelosi gone he is going to especially dangerous now bcz he is convinced that the republican message is the one he shld follow. Poor guy he even thinks that by carrying the republicans water the next two years that they might let him stay in the white house. Sad.

  17. harpie says:

    So, I’m trying to inform myself about goings on in Yemen, and what do I read?


    Yemen: The Covert Apparatus of the American Empire; Andrew Gavin Marshall; 10/5/10

    One program of the NED [National Endowment for Democracy] includes nearly $200,000 of funding for the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). According to their website, CIPE “strengthens democracy around the globe through private enterprise and market-oriented reform. CIPE is one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy,” and is also an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.[139]

    [139] CIPE, Who We Are, Center for International Private Enterprise

    According to the article NED gets all its funding from the US Government.

    Here’s FY2011 “State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs” Appropriations Summary [pdf].

    NED is under Title I.


    The new chairman for this appropriations subcommittee may be Kay Granger [R-Texas].

    Granger seeking chairmanship of State and foreign ops subcommittee; Josh Rogin; The Cable; 11/3/10

    She’s also on the Defense appropriations sub-committee.

      • harpie says:

        Well, lookie here [from the Sourcewatch link about NED @42]:

        [I’m pretty sure this is old information…but, still…]

        Vin Weber Chairman

        Thomas R. Donahue [former] Vice-Chair

        Julie Finley Treasurer

        Matthew F. McHugh Secretary

        Carl Gershman President

        There’s a link to the page for him. He was Secretary/Treasurer of the AFL-CIO from 1975-1995 and [in 1992] was Secretarty/Treasurer of:


        The American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD) was an AFL-CIO organization whose purpose was to undermine foreign unions. It received funding from the US government, mostly through USAID, and starting in the 1980s it began receiving funds from the National Endowment for Democracy. The AIFLD also had close ties to the Central Intelligence Agency. […]

  18. parsnip says:

    New Zealand ranked at the top of the Transparency International http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/oct/26/corruption-index-2010-transparency-international>world corruption index, tied with Denmark and Singapore.

    tvt: that Jesus window is spectacular. I saw it in 1984. I camped out beside Lake Rotorua. A rainstorm blew in during the night and raged. The tent next to ours’ fly lost one of its tie-downs and flapped furiously in the wind. It was still storming at 8AM when my bladder would no longer hold. When I unzipped the tent I looked out to see the tent ground flooded and ducks swimming around between the tent and the lake.

    We experienced national health care in Rotorua. My spouse’s ear was clogged and it was cleaned out for free at the hospital on a Sunday morning. The hospital is heated with geothermal steam. People cook in their backyards, by digging a pit, and using it like a crock pot.

    That was before the neolibs moved in. David Lange was PM then. No apparent poverty. It’s changed for the worse, including their version of a DHS.

    • thatvisionthing says:

      Thanks, now I feel like I’ve been there. I love that window. I also love transparency that all may see.

      I camped out once in Northern California, up by Hopland. I didn’t have a tent, just my car and a fold-out lawn chair, so I opened it out and put my sleeping bag on it and slept outside amongst all the tents. When I woke up early in the morning wild pigs were walking through the campground in the mist. The tent people didn’t see it. I felt so blessed. Money can’t buy that.

  19. jdmckay0 says:

    In larger context, Galbraith sums up BO’s presidency thusly:

    Obama’s Problem Simply Defined: It Was the Banks

    The original sin of Obama’s presidency was to assign economic policy to a closed circle of bank-friendly economists and Bush carryovers. Larry Summers. Timothy Geithner. Ben Bernanke. These men had no personal commitment to the goal of an early recovery, no stake in the Democratic Party, no interest in the larger success of Barack Obama. Their primary goal, instead, was and remains to protect their own past decisions and their own professional futures.

    Up to a point, one can defend the decisions taken in September-October 2008 under the stress of a rapidly collapsing financial system. The Bush administration was, by that time, nearly defunct. Panic was in the air, as was political blackmail — with the threat that the October through January months might be irreparably brutal. Stopgaps were needed, they were concocted, and they held the line.

    But one cannot defend the actions of Team Obama on taking office. Law, policy and politics all pointed in one direction: turn the systemically dangerous banks over to Sheila Bair and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Insure the depositors, replace the management, fire the lobbyists, audit the books, prosecute the frauds, and restructure and downsize the institutions. The financial system would have been cleaned up. And the big bankers would have been beaten as a political force.

    Team Obama did none of these things. (…)

    I think I said same things here right after BO’s election, as he named Geithner et’al (prior to inaugeration).

    And re: this election… as I said everywhere I could: BACK TO THE FUTURE, Brad DeLong picked up this statement (via Yglesias) from Rep Spencer Bachus (likely financial services committee chairman):

    Underlining the change in Congress, Mr Bachus, who as ranking Republican on the committee could replace Barney Frank as chairman of the panel, expressed concern that shareholders of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase will be hurt because the banks will be less profitable. […]

    “The derivatives provisions in Dodd-Frank alone… as they stand now they’re going to take a trillion dollars out of our economy. Think how many jobs that’s going to kill,” he said.

    Or in other words, another K-Street whore, promising to gut meager inroads written into Dodd/Frank which mildly curtailed the 1% who nearly bankrupted the world.

    By not drawing a line in the sand from the git go… eg: codifying what was obvious into WH policy, that sand has swept over BO, the dems who followed him, and all but guarantee kicking the can down the road indefinitely an intelligent purging of fraud as drive of US economy.

    I find myself thinking lately that media has far more power/influence on our shores then the president. With incoming ownership of MSNBC, and declared leaning FOX’ward, can’t see it doing anything but getting more control.

    Anyone else notice the increasing politicization of Main section of WSJ, btw?… Suggestive headlines, not backed up by content underneath, and their previous detailed investigations replaced by long screeds generally explaining the history (sort of) of topic @ hand, generally well established information… ///???