Obama Pitches Economic Agenda To Business Leaders

Mar 6, 2012 9:48pm
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(Image Credit: Charles Dharapak/AP Photo)

President Obama pitched his economic agenda to some of the nation’s most high-powered CEOs Tuesday night, touting his proposals to boost job creation and calling for tax reform to aid the economic recovery.

“The economy is getting stronger, and the recovery is speeding up. And the question now is, how do we make sure that it keeps going?” the president told members of the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies.

Obama outlined his administration’s efforts to bring jobs back to the U.S. and jumpstart manufacturing. “I think we have to focus on our core strengths: American manufacturing; American energy; American innovation; the best skills and education for American workers,” he told the roughly 100 business executives gathered at the Newseum in downtown Washington, D.C.. The execs included Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, Brian Moynihan of Bank of America, Ursula Burns of Xerox Corp, and Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo.

Obama said he will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American goods, pointing to his efforts to secure Russia’s invitation into the World Trade Association.

“Given the number of planes that I’ve been selling around the world, I expect a gold watch upon my retirement,” the president joked to Business Roundtable Chairman and Boeing CEO Jim McNerney, who introduced Obama at tonight’s event.

The president also said he was not giving up on his call to rebuild America’s infrastructure. “I make no apologies for being chauvinistic when it comes to wanting to have the best airports, the best roads, the fastest broadband lines, the best wireless connections here in the United States of America. And now is the time for us to do it,” he said.

Obama said the nation would have to “deal with revenue,” noting “that’s something that the American people instinctually understand — that if we do this in a balanced way, we can solve our problems.”

The president said the nation needs to reform its tax system to better reward companies that invest in the U.S. “That is going to be a difficult task. Anybody who has been involved in tax discussions in any legislature, but especially Congress, knows that it’s like pulling teeth. But it is the right thing to do for us to become more competitive,” he said.

The president’s policies have not always been warmly received by the association. In 2010, then chairman Ivan Seidenberg, chief executive of Verizon, accused the president of creating a “hostile environment” for investment and job creation.

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