Obama’s Kabuki Jobs Council, Brought to You By “Nut on China” Jeff Immelt

When Google announced that Eric Schmidt was stepping down yesterday, I joked that Schmidt must be leaving to lead Obama’s campaign economy — the one he’ll use to get re-elected with. After all, Schmidt is one of the Obama’s closest CEO buddies, and he’s leaving at the same time as Jim Messina and Patrick Gaspard are leaving to take over the campaign infrastructure. The decision to close the Office of Political Affairs seems to indicate a decision to stop governing and start spinning wildly to ensure re-election. There’s no area where Obama will need to spin more wildly than with the economy, right?

Turns out, I wasn’t far off.

What else can you conclude from the news that Obama is replacing his President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, led by Paul Volcker, with a President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, led by General Electric CEO Jeff “Nut on China” Immelt?

President Obama has asked me to chair his new President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. I have served for the past two years on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, and I look forward to leading the next phase of this effort as we transition from recovery to long-term growth. The president and I are committed to a candid and full dialogue among business, labor and government to help ensure that the United States has the most competitive and innovative economy in the world.

Aside from the tired DC trick of renaming the Council with the latest buzzwords — jobs and competitiveness — there’s all the things GE has done under Immelt that make the U.S. less competitive. I noted the other day that GE had signed a big deal with China that will involve us sharing our jet technology with China, which will ultimately help China compete with both GE and — China has said explicitly — Boeing. Then there’s the fact that, even as Immelt has been calling for manufacturing in the U.S., his company has been shutting U.S. plants to move the work to China.

While Immelt was calling for manufacturing to stay in the U.S., his company was at the same time shipping manufacturing jobs overseas by canceling an order with an American-based wind turbine maker, ATI Casting Service in LaPorte, Ind., so that GE could instead buy the parts from a factory in China.

Recently, ATI made $30 million worth of investments to buy, convert, and modernize a shuttered factory in economically ravaged Michigan so the company could provide more parts to GE as the green economy expands with federal stimulus funding. But a Chinese firm underbid ATI, and the factory faced having to lay off 302 union workers and shutter the plant.

In an aggressive bid to keep the factory open, ATI offered to match the price of the Chinese producers. GE once again said they would prefer to buy from China. The ATI plant is now closed, the jobs gone.

Then there is Immelt’s call for Free — not Fair — Trade in his op-ed announcing the Kabuki Council.

Free trade: America cannot expand its manufacturing base without greatly increasing the volume of goods it sells overseas. That is why I applaud the free-trade agreement recently concluded between the United States and South Korea, which will eliminate barriers to U.S. exports and support export-oriented jobs. We should seek to conclude trade and investment agreements with other fast-growing markets and modernize our systems for export finance and trade control. Those who advocate increasing domestic manufacturing jobs by erecting trade barriers have it exactly wrong.

And then, finally, there’s the little detail that GE managed, alone of “manufacturing companies” in the U.S., to turn itself into a Too Big To Fail overleveraged finance company in need of a $16 billion bailout from the government (as has happened with all the TBTF finance companies, bailouts have made GE’s financing business profitable again).

In short, no matter how many times Immelt gets up on a podium or in an op-ed and feigns an interest in American jobs, his actions make him the poster child for everything wrong with the U.S. economy right now.

And that’s what Obama is rolling out, as he moves into campaign mode, to convince Americans he’s going to do a damn thing about jobs.

  1. crease says:

    Immelt is right we can’t expand our manufacturing to competet with a third world commie country that runs it ‘s manufacturing with an IRON fist,low wages,no environmental or pollution standards,absoluetly no voice in the workplace ZIP ZERO ZILCH.In many cases they bring people in from the rural parts of the country to work under these conditions they live in company dorms and shop at the company store,kind of reminds me of the good old days when the coal miners down WVa went through the very same thing.Don’t foregt th

    at China gives most of it’s population health care payed with their taxes which is probably the second biggest reason for going their besides dirt cheap labor and no cost for pollution and environmental concerns.Not until congress gets together with big business that is willing to accept the fact that oil is on the way out and we need to create and institute a GREEN jobs program the working middle class will remain as bystanders without HC,jobs,homes and more and the top 2 percenters won’t even give them a casual glance.

    • jdmckay0 says:

      * China’s doing far more then US on environmental issues, across the board: water, air, clean generation.
      * Chinese labor has it better then any time in modern era. Their trajectory is on a consistent (over a decade) upward swing in wage/conditions/benefits. With decreasing frequency, labor is not “shipped in” from rural areas: rather, people come to biz centers for opportunity of their own free will. Education is far more available then ever, is increasingly accessable, and in many of most critical (for future economy) science/tech areas, subsidized. Over 80% of population supports their gov and approves of where country is going… for 6+ years running.

      Your comments, with all due respect, are entirely misinformed.

      One of big, big problems we have here in USA is a middle class increasingly ripped off and lied to by big biz & US gov., fed increasing bs to blame it all on China instead of first principle causes (US policy), and only exacerbate and compound conditions which will perpetuate our decline and their ascendancy.

      Over last 3 yrs., China reinvests over 12% in broad areas of their economy: US, not even 3%. They do stuff, we support banking games.

      They’re selling/building clean coal technology/generation nearly all over globe now, we’ve got new congress trying to outlaw it.

      Their Univ science programs are passing us by at light speed: US state run University systems degrading quickly, with commensurate decline in accessability.

      It goes on any on… US is being choked to death by an accelerating process of mis-informing it’s public. We’re in real trouble dude.

      • klynn says:

        Thank you. That was going to be my next comment. I would add the the EU is actually trying to keep pace with China’s enviro policy.

        I’ll note the new enviro policy in China is creating new plants with 0% pollution and waste.

        It goes on any on… US is being choked to death by an accelerating process of mis-informing it’s public. We’re in real trouble dude.

        Your best quote in the comment.

        If I might suggest, you should expand your comment and make it a post. I would make the quote I noted the title of the diary.

        If the public knew how far behind we are in our environmental and investment in develop of new technologies, we would not be able to handle the “load’ on our sewer system there would be so much ___ing.

      • sona says:

        thank you, you said it more eloquently than i could have

        there is a propensity in the west to point fingers of blame at others – the world is exporting manufacturing to china and other low wage countries without a thought that the process of manufacturing induces pollution and it’s about time to hold consumers responsible and they overwhelmingly come from the oecd economies

      • onitgoes says:

        Thank you for your clarification about the reality of present-day China. When Obummer wagged his fingers at Hu about human rights violations – while true – I thought it was yet another means of distracting US citizens from the reality of how China operates & currently treats its citizens today. The PTB don’t want US citizens to realize how much better things are getting in China; they wish to keep us in the dark *believing* that China is an evil terrible place… even though our obscenely wealthy overlords, like Immelt, wish to only open bus. operations there.

        Also of note is China’s improvements on environmental issues. Just yesterday someone was complaining to me about how *expensive* it is for businesses to be run in California because of all of those damned far too expensive environmental regulations which are just choking the life out of poor poor poor benighted US businesess. Pull the other one; what a load of crap US citizens are willing to ingest on a daily basis… to all of our detriment.

      • klynn says:

        And for those who simply will not believe us…here’s more

        It has been reported that China plans to announce during next week’s Copenhagen Climate conference, it will trim its carbon emission up to 45% by the year 2020. This represents up to a 28% increase over the U.S. published commitment. What does the China pledge mean to U.S. retailers? What’s on the horizon for other U.S. businesses?

        China 45% emission reduction pledge:

        From an U.S. retailer perspective, China’s planned emissions cut is great news for U.S. retailers seeking to comply with environmental standards. Theoretically goods produced in China in year 2020 should be more environmental friendly than the United States. Here’s the business challenge, which GHG methodology / standards will both super powers adopt? Not sure anyone can say with 100% clarity. This lack of direction may have a mid term impact on U.S. retailers and businesses.

        There is more about China’s advancements on this concern.

        Companies are going to love trading in carbon credits due to China’s aggressive emissions standards raising rapidly and ending up better than the US emissions.

        There is money in going green and the GOP just do not get it.

        • onitgoes says:

          There is money in going green and the GOP just do not get it.

          Oh I think they get it alright. It’s just that the corporations only want the green stuff to happen overseas, not here. The corporations will make their “green” money somewhere else, not in the USA. That’s the way it is anymore, and the stupid US public will continue to mouth idiotic junk about how environmental regulations or going green in the USA is just “crushing” the corporations.

            • onitgoes says:

              With respect, beg to differ. There’s *some* benefit to the uber-wealthy to off-shore all this green technology stuff, which I suspect begins with an “M”, and ends with “ONEY.” The gain/ROI is only for the uber-wealthy. Stuff the citizens of the USA… etc.

              • klynn says:

                I meant wealth building from the standpoint for the US citizenry, not the uber rich. For the uber rich, I would totally agree with you.

                Policy makers cannot talk jobs creation and new industry creation out of one side of their mouth and then ship jobs to China and scream the EPA costs US industry too much $$$. All the while, knowing they are positioning themselves to invest in carbon credits. (Not to mention, receive bailout and/or tax credits only to ship over seas.)

                There is $$$ in any industry sector being green and it is in the form of carbon credits. Investors know this.

                Honestly, EW should do a whole write-up on the ATI story in MI where GE failed a thoughtful business practice. With more detail it would be a story that would be terrible PR. FDL should front page it. Corps hate bad PR. Think of it, the TPers scream, “Stop your whining unemployed.” A group of unemployed build a company here in the US, retooling an old auto facility, meet the bid the Chinese offered and still do not get the work.

                A crippling piece it would be.

                It would make a great documentary as well…

                • klynn says:

                  I might add, had Immelt and crew held to the ATI bid, it would be a “Golden” story PR-wise and then we would be discussing here how Immelt is a corporate example in investing in an area hit hard by the economy and supporting those who chose to help themselves with the efforts of starting a new company which utilized their skill power applied in a new industry sector.

                  But he didn’t…

  2. cathy says:

    Looks like we are headed to being a one world corporate planet. It won’t start to be fun to watch until we get down to just 3 or 4 corporations owning the world and seeing them duke it out for being the supreme corporation of the world.

  3. wbgonne says:


    For those like me who are convinced that the U.S. Left is doomed to irrelevance until it acts outside the Democratic Party here is the link for a new online organization for the Left:


    Home page blurb:

    “If you want 10 more years of war raise your hand. How about privatized Social Security, any takers? Supervillain corporations? Bought and paid for politics? A media that glosses over the real costs of war? Raise your hand if you want all that. Hands still down? Then you’re in the right place. Welcome.

    Talk long enough and you’ll find most Americans are pretty much the same. We want a fair country, not one ruled by corporations; enough jobs; opportunities for young people, and security for old ones. We want to fight only when necessary, and if it’s a mistake, we want it to stop. That’s what most of us voted for in 2008. But elections aren’t enough. Now we know that it’s gonna take action, down at the grassroots level, independent from political party leadership, to solve our biggest problems. It’s gonna take roots action.

    It’s time to get to the heart of things in America. To reconnect with our roots, to who we really are. People who believe in justice and peace. People who want democracy. People who demand a truly civil society, where violence (or the threat of it) is never part of the equation. Raise your hand! HEY! There are a lot of us!”

    • MrChip says:

      Thanks for the link. I always sorta hoped this site would fight back a little more than it has/does. Seems we just like to be shocked over and over at how crappy “our” democrats are…over and over every day, a new shocking article, repubs bad, dems bad too, we’re shocked I tell ya…

  4. diosnomeama says:

    Yet, all of this will be whitewashed or completely ignored by “liberals” and “progressives” who screamed and cried about Bush ruining the economy. It’s similar to the silence on Obama’s 180 on civil liberties and capitulation to the drug industry and Wall Street, to name a few.

  5. klynn says:


    You have to think about who has put a buzz for a vision in O’s ear.

    When you want to focus on turning 90% of the population into skilled labor and paraprofessionals you have to do two things. 1) Dumb down the math taught in schools to reduce achievement levels and, 2) Outsource so many jobs that people will be beaten into lower paying jobs and create the 90% skilled labor paraprofessionals.

    When you are dealing with elite attitudes, “worker bees” would be number one on the list for their success.

    Unfortunately, it is the wrong way to go. It lacks what built this country. Competition and a desire to achieve. Lowering standards to create a less motivated society will kill this country. Stronger math skills creates more innovation, higher wage earners and spurs economic growth to avoid brain drain.

    And we do not want to see brain drain.

  6. joanneleon says:

    I remembered Immelt’s name being brought up re: replacement for Summers, and came across an article in the Daily Finance earlier this morning, admittedly not the greatest source, but the author was advocating for someone other than Immelt, so he brought up a few interesting things about him. First he said that Immelt was a disaster for GE, given that their stock dropped by 58% when the S&P fell by 22% during the same period, and he tied him to Rick Santelli. Then at the end of the article he said this, which supports your idea that this is all about the campaign, and not necessarily about the economy:

    And given what I expect he does want — better press coverage and relations with the business community — I wouldn’t be surprised if he picks Immelt, whose nomination might diffuse the anger of the wealthy rage monkeys represented by Rick Santelli’s CNBC. If Immelt gets inside the tent, it could shift CNBC’s foul mood, which might help put executives into a mindset where they start opening their wallets to compete, instead of opening their mouths to whine about their taxes.

    I completely agree that the Obama 2012 marketing campaign began this month. I have thought that since I read some quotes from a Valerie Jarrett interview in recent weeks.

    But in addition to spin, it looks like maybe Obama thinks that if he is nice enough to BigBiz, they’ll keep the jobs here in the US. Meanwhile, Immelt and others, I presume, are chomping at the bit to open up those exciting new developing markets. I wonder how many trade agreements they’ll get out of him in the next two years.

  7. klynn says:

    Additionally, corporations are trying to get in at the ground level of emerging intellectual Property growth. When you have a large emerging IP growth potential backed by millions of skilled labor and you want to make money, you will move operations there to make money.

    Thus the moves to China and India.

    There is no vision for building our economy from our corporate community. It will have to come from us, the people.

  8. gtomkins says:

    Classic NPR take

    NPR ran a story on the Immelt for Volcker swap-out, in which it was presented by the reporter as objective fact, and not the opinion of any interested parties, that one benefit of the change is that Immelt has these ties to the business community that Volcker lacks, that will reassure that community, and allow it a way to express their concerns to the administration.

    Because, you know, were it not for Immelt, the business community would have no voice audible to the administration. For centuries this nation has groaned under the heel of Socialist Populism (or is it Populist Socialism?), and anyone making more than a day-laborer’s wages dared not raise a voice that could be heard in the councils of government lest he be sent to some gulag. But now, with Immelt in the picture, the still quiet voice of the wealthy will finally be heard speaking truth to power!

    You have to admire the sheer chutzpah. What is most incredible about this is the attention to detail so fine that you couldn’t imagine it is thought necessary to the practical work of influencing votes. The people who crafted this can only be imagined to be taking such utterly impractical pains, as far out of the view of the average voter as the filigree work you find in Gothic cathedrals so high up that no one, but God, would ever be able to appreciate it, out of some religious devotion to the Pure Lie, whose telling is unbound by any crass, earthly motivations, and which exists as its own justification.

    You don’t see this quality over at, say, Fox, where they go in for artless mendacity by the ton, and substitute sheer quantity for quality. For the really good stuff in the mendacity department, the connoisseur looks to NPR.

    • onitgoes says:

      You don’t see this quality over at, say, Fox, where they go in for artless mendacity by the ton, and substitute sheer quantity for quality. For the really good stuff in the mendacity department, the connoisseur looks to NPR.

      heh… I have to salute you for your post, which very eloquently encapsulates why I rarely ever listen to NPR anymore… for sake of my health (eg, my blood pressure sky-rockets when I listen to their bald-faced lies), if nothing else.

      Yet another conservative was commenting recently about how NPR was the Pied Piper for us dreaded leftwingers… as if it was any more factual or truthful that Fox. It’s all rightwing corporate talking points all the time anymore… just said in a more “intellectual,” but totally disingenuous, way. BAH! ptoui!!!

        • onitgoes says:

          Anymore, yes, getting federal money is the “tell.” It didn’t used to be that way, but it certainly is now.

          However, the bigger “tell” is all the corporations and rightwing think tanks who “underwrite” NPR and PBS. I note that David Koch is spending a LOT of money on NPR and PBS… it’s no accident that the “reporting” has gone super rightwing with Koch at the helm. David Koch is the ultimate rightwing propoganda monster. Caveat emptor!

  9. canadianbeaver says:

    GE gets a new contract with China one day, then gets appointed to a government council the next. You just can’t make this stuff up. Unreal.

  10. TomThumb says:

    As a non economist, I found it helpful to understand the current policy regarding job creation by looking at this entry for “unemployment” in Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unemployment

    At the very end of the entry they discuss ‘supply side’ economics solutions to unemployment, which may resonate for you in the President’s actions: emphasizing retraining or education of workers, reducing regulation, cutting taxes for businesses, reducing the power of unions and removing the minimum wage.

    Demand side solutions include directly hiring workers (government intervention) and guaranteeing a basic income to the unemployed. Those latter strategies worked well in the New Deal years.
    I did not mean to detract from the current political discussion, but only to add some fundamental concepts to it.

  11. kumari says:

    In short, no matter how many times Immelt gets up on a podium or in an op-ed and feigns an interest in American jobs, his actions make him the poster child for everything wrong with the U.S. economy right now.

    AGREED..Immelt has relied on govt. subsidies to run GE. He has made the company dependent on govt. handouts. There has been little if any innovative progress under his leadership..(what leadership?)

    He has been an utter failure, and GE has lost it’s reputation as a formidable giant in industrial and manufacturing leadership.

    What a shame.

    • onitgoes says:

      Completely agree. Although Jack Welsh was a consumate robber baron and did his damndest to avoid environmental regulations (polluting many a US river) and crush the unions, he did make GE a globally competitive force to be reckoned with.

      Immelt is the ultimate corporate cadillac welfare king. Through my father, I’ve owned GE stock for years, and Immelt has been one giant sucking FAILURE. Let the buyer beware.

  12. mgloraine says:

    The term “competitiveness” has been used since the Reagan Dark Age to stand in for “offshoring of jobs” aimed at crushing American labor unions and impoverishing the working class. So Obama is once again demonstrating that his heroes and role models are the most destructive Republicans in recent history. In the area of foreign policy and national security, his idol is Dick Cheney, while in the area of economics his idol is Ronald Reagan.

    Why is it that progressives are not allowed to mount a primary challenger to Obama again? Because we want to make sure to have four more years of this crap?

  13. fwdpost says:

    In the CNN Money news on April 16, 2010:

    General Electric filed more than 7,000 income tax returns in hundreds of global jurisdictions last year, but when push came to shove, the company owed the U.S. government a whopping bill of $0.

    GE had plenty of earnings last year — just not in the United States. For tax purposes, the company’s U.S. operations lost $408 million, while its international businesses netted a $10.8 billion profit.

    That left GE with no U.S. profit left for Uncle Sam to tax. Corporations typically face a 35% federal income tax on their earnings. Thanks to its deductions and adjustments, GE reported an actual U.S. federal income tax rate of negative 10.5%. It got to add a “tax benefit” of $1.1 billion back into its reported earnings.http://money.cnn.com/2010/04/16/news/companies/ge_7000_tax_returns/

    • canadianbeaver says:

      That’s the corporate way! GM did the same thing years ago as it was closing down plants in Michigan. On paper, they got tax refunds!!!

  14. jedimsnbcko19 says:

    Why don’t we call these people terrorist?

    Bush said it best, you are either with us or against us

    It seems like a lot of these companies and their CEOs hate the USA.

    Obama is consistent, he shows his hate for main street daily.

  15. mikesacola says:

    If a President, formerly a Sachchurian Candidate, is;

    1. The enemy of universal healthcare insurance

    2. The enemy of Social Security

    3. The enemy of international peace and diplomacy

    4. The enemy of the rule of law.

    5. The enemy of American workers and unions.

    6. The enemy of a free press.

    7. The enemy of a prosperous American economy.

    8. The friend of those who are also the enemies of all the above.

    Then why is this “enemy” being allowed to think for one minute that he

    will receive the support, in 2012, of all those he is the enemy of.

  16. wagthedog says:

    Immelt as CEO of GE, received $ 16 billion bailout, made $ 10.8 billion in profit, paid $ 0 in US taxes, and is selling it’s technology to China.

    • onitgoes says:

      I made a comment on a thread yesterday about how US businesses get all these tax breaks and incentives, and someone conservative posted asking where I got my info from. Didn’t believe me and wanted to whine and cry for how horribly TAXED US businesses are, which is why they are being driven off-shore through no fault of their own.

      Honestly, the level of deception of US citizens is breath-takingly horrible, and most citizens willingly surrender to this nonsense wishing only to victimize themselves to the dreadfully eeeeevul leftwing and poor people.

  17. micki says:

    We should all just stop picking on Obama. Look here! He continues to oppose Pentagon funding forGE’s alternative engine for the F-35 jet fighter even after choosing Jeffrey Immelt to head his “outside” panel of economic advisers.

    See what a good guy he is.

  18. jonathangelling says:

    Yay! Maybe Immelt will push to lower those unduly burdensome corporate taxes that are hurting our competitiveness:

    “Meanwhile, GE said its fourth-quarter tax rate came in at an unexpectedly low rate of negative 17%, contributing about 10 cents a share to earnings.”

    GE Stronger Than Expected 4th Quarter