President Barack Obama will meet today with members of a dream team of supposed employment experts to help tackle the nation’s jobs problem dubbed the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
Those on the roster, perhaps, might not be the best to go to find ways to add to the workforce.
The President’s Council was created back in January to tackle the jobs problem back when the unemployment rate was only 9.0 percent. Nearly a year later the employment epidemic is still crushing the American economy and hopes of millions of citizens who are without work. The members of his council, however, are largely CEOs and other executives who have managed to cut thousands of jobs from their own major corporations, all the while increasing profits for themselves.
Why would President Obama enlist execs who have notoriously taken away jobs from thousands of Americans? Many members of his council have also contributed as much as legally possible to his campaigns.
Big names from big corporations pepper the personnel of the council, which is led by chair Jeffrey Immelt from General Electric. Last year the Institute for Policy Studies reported that as CEO of GE, Immelt laid off 3,568 employees during the recent recession, all the while earning $5.58 million for himself. After those layoffs, Obama rewarded GE with $210 in stimulus funds as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. And, of course, Immelt has been rewarded with a cushy title on the President’s Council. While President Obama will look for Immelt on ways to create jobs, perhaps the commander-in-chief should consider enlisting others with a bigger background in hiring and not firing.
Elsewhere on the President’s Council is Comcast Corp. CEO Brian Roberts, whose company was the top corporate source for contributions thus far in Obama’s 2012 election bid. American Express CEO Kenneth I. Chenault also sits on the council, though he recently revealed plans to cut 1,500 jobs at a North Carolina plant, signaling one of the largest layoffs in the area in ages.
Other names on the list including execs from Centerbridge Partners, Pritzker Realty Group and UBS Americas , which together have contributed almost $3 million to Obama’s last and current presidential campaign.
“Nobody should expect this group to come up with innovative ways of investing in the American workforce and generating not only more jobs but higher wages,” Robert Reich, Labor secretary under Bill Clinton, tells The Los Angeles Times. “That’s just not what these big companies do.”
Boeing’s Jim McNerney also will advise Obama, though perhaps he is better qualified to help raise a few bucks than bring on board new jobs. Boeing announced that they would cut 1,100 jobs this year — almost all in one location — all the while showing a 20 percent increase in profits.
Though Congress will meet this week to vote on Obama’s American Jobs Act, experts predict that the bill is far from likely to be passed. Meanwhile the unemployment rate remains at 9.1 percent.