Tags: Barack Obama | Jack Welch | Obama | unions | chamber

Jack Welch: Obama Isn't Walking the Talk on Business

By    |   Tuesday, 01 March 2011 10:26 AM

Business icon and former GE CEO Jack Welch contends that President Barack Obama’s words don’t match his deeds when it comes to moving to the center politically and being more business-friendly. “The tack to the center is verbal,” Welch said on CNBC’s Squawk Box Tuesday morning. “It’s not actionable.”

Jack Welch, Obama, business, chamber
Jack Welch
To illustrate his point, Welch pointed out that Obama recently, “with a stroke of a pen . . . unionized 40,000 TSA workers.”

That move involving Transportation Security Administration workers came just a few days before a high-profile speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in which the president tried to align himself with the business community, Welch said.

“So on Friday afternoon . . . they announced that the TSA could now unionize, they gave them two unions they could negotiate with,” Welch said. “Forty-three thousand dues-paying members all of a sudden showed up Friday before the Monday speech, and he never mentioned a word of it. Another public union.”

Welch called the move “card-check the back way.” Card-check is the controversial proposal that unions favor that would eliminate workers’ secret ballots on whether they want to unionize. Right-to-work advocates worry that eliminating the secret ballot would expose workers to union intimidation.

The TSA decision is the equivalent of unionizing 60 to 100 plants, Welch said. But public-sector unions, he said, are quite different from private-sector unions, because governments are relatively unresponsive to market pressures and are monopolies that don’t have to worry about going out of business.

“Let’s hope he’s moving to the center,” Welch said. “But from what I see — unionizing 43,000 TSA workers on a Friday and giving a speech Monday morning — show me the money.”

Welch gave Obama credit on some issues. He said the president seems to be listening more to business leaders, and had appointed good people such as White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, who has an extensive banking background. He also complimented the president on his trade deal with South Korea.

But so far, Welch said, he doesn’t see signs that Obama’s much-heralded move to the center in the wake of the midterm election “shellacking” is much more than political rhetoric.

“Look at his budget bill,” Welch said. “He gave an R & D credit. OK, fine. And then he threw in a mess of foreign tax credits for businesses, which is not what a global company needs. He threw in a superfund tax, he threw in the carried-interest tax — he threw in all these things! So it shows what he really wants, in that budget. Just pick the budget apart, piece by piece. So the actions aren’t yet with the words.”

Welch added that, although Obama has signaled a willingness to reduce the high rate of U.S. corporate taxes, “There’s nothing in the budget about restructuring it. Nothing was touched . . . not a word.”

The internationally respected business maven also criticized the president’s promise to review federal regulations with an eye to reducing the regulatory burden on business. Welch said the review excluded regulations related to Obama’s two signature legislative initiatives: Healthcare reform and financial regulations.

“I mean, the review is: ‘All the old ones didn’t work out, but mine are good,’” Welch said.

Welch’s comments marked the second time in as many days that a major corporate figure has criticized Obama’s policies toward the business community. On Monday, 3M CEO and Chairman George Buckley told the Financial Times that businesses would simply relocate to other countries if the United States persists in making life difficult for corporations.

“We know what his instincts are — they are Robin Hood-esque,” Buckley said. “He is anti-business.”

Buckley added: "I judge people by their feet, not their mouth.”

Welch told CNBC he would like to see a reduction in the corporate tax, more reasonable labor policies, and reduced EPA focus on reducing carbon emissions.

“I don’t want to beat him up, that’s not my job,” Welch said of the president. “My job though is to try to put in perspective what he’s doing versus what he’s saying. And I hope what he’s saying becomes more what he’s doing. That’s my hope, truly I hope that."

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Business icon and former GE CEO Jack Welch contends that President Barack Obama s words don t match his deeds when it comes to moving to the center politically and being more business-friendly. The tack to the center is verbal, Welch said on CNBC s Squawk Box Tuesday...
Jack Welch,Obama,unions,chamber
Tuesday, 01 March 2011 10:26 AM
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