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Posted at 12:04 PM ET, 01/21/2011

Is GE's Jeffrey Immelt the right choice to head the new economic advisory council?

By Ariana Eunjung Cha


(Photo Credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Until this week, General Electric chief executive Jeffrey Immelt, the successor to the legendary Jack Welch, remained largely under the radar in Washington.

While he has served as a an informal adviser to the administration on business issues for years, he had never been a celebrity CEO like Welch. That changed when Immelt's name showed up as being seated at the head table with President Obama and President Hu Jintao during the state dinner for the Chinese leader.

Then came Friday's announcement that former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker would step down from his role advising the administration and that Immelt would head up a new economic advisory council focused on job creation and U.S. competitiveness. Immelt laid out his vision for the effort in an opinion piece in The Washington Post.

News of Immelt's appointment role has drawn some skepticism.

Time magazine's Joe Klein expressed his displeasure in the departure of Volcker and said that Immelt's appointment "signals a desire to snuggle up to the business community."

The Atlantic's Daniel Indivigli wondered whether Immelt, head of a major global company, is really the right choice to lead the council.

Indivigli noted that Immelt listed three priorities for the panel: manufacturing, trade and innovation.

The last of those three is sort of an Econ 101 no-brainer, but the other two specifically speak to aspects of business that would benefit GE in particular: It's a global firm that has a huge manufacturing presence. These may be legitimate ways to create jobs, but it's not surprising to see GE's CEO, in particular, excited about finding ways for the government to support these ends in particular.

There was even some criticism from the business community. Scott Paul, executive director for the Alliance for American Manufacturing, called Immelt "a poor choice:"

There is no swifter way to alienate working class voters than to name an outsourcing CEO to lead your jobs strategy. Yet that's exactly what President Obama is doing. While Mr. Immelt has acknowledged the importance of maintaining a manufacturing base, and conceded that China's industrial rise poses problems for U.S. manufacturers, his policy prescriptions have not been helpful to job creation in the U.S.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | January 21, 2011; 12:04 PM ET
Categories:  Add categoryPresident's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, White House  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Economic agenda: Friday, Jan. 21, 2011
Next: IMF: Europe poses the key risk to global economy


Its probably good for GE, which did an awful lot of outsourcing of jobs to Mexico, etc. (Would that make him a lobbyist)
Maybe his background with GE will help us get rid of greedy private and public sector unions.
Maybe he'll get state and city government to force their employees to pay for their OWN health insurance, that would be a Big deal.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

GE and democrats have been in bed for years. This is not surprising at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Is he a good pick or is this some sort of political payoff? Here's an excerpt from his Wikipedia entry; "He was also named one of the five worst Non-Financial-Crisis-Related CEOs of 2008 by the Free Enterprise Action Fund.[5] Since taking over, GE's stock has dropped nearly 60%."

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Say goodbye to your US jobs, it will be definitely will be outsourced now.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Immelt is a left wing loon who will help Obama with his re-election by using his media empire and Hollywood friends.

Posted by: IamWright | January 21, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I worked in a profitable GE Energy shop in Wisconsin.They closed us down without even a reason.Neutron Jr. doesn't have a clue.

Posted by: gemax | January 21, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

No, Mr. Immelt is not the right choice.
He cannot handle China's pressure.

Can we ask Mr. Warren Buffett to help the country?

Posted by: dummy4peace | January 21, 2011 1:57 PM | Report abuse

GE has been more aggressive with removing jobs than most US corporations including outsourcing to overseas manufacturing.

NBC, CNBC and MSNBC are part of the empire. If Mr. Obama does not feel up to the job he can always resign, or not run for a second term.

Andy Grove, of Intel fame, actually knows something about job creation and making investments in the US economy. He has also stated that if we want a trade war, we should organize to win it.

Looks like window dressing to me, with its own PR engine built in.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Another lousy choice by Obama, who cares only about the rich.

Posted by: solsticebelle | January 21, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

There could hardly be a worse choice. This corrupt man... and his corrupt company... are a deadly threat to the American free enterprise system!

He has taken full advantage of his $contribution-generated influence with Barak Obama and other Democrats to fleece American taxpayers for tens of $billions in bail-out money, juicy government contracts, and now the coup de grace... positioning GE to emerge as the dominating mega-corporation, overpowering smaller, more innovative, and more ethical companies who are being be casually brushed aside by this clueless administration.

GE has flaunted our laws and regulations for a century or more (e.g. anti-polution, restraint of trade, price fixing, anti-monopoly laws, etc., etc.), and managed to fend off, or at least blunt the efforts of federal and state prosecutors and regulators through campaign contributions and political connections.

Immelt and GE will now have free-rein to redefine our economy to suit GE's needs, as the recent GE/NBC/Comcast merger approval demonstrates.

Although not as ingenious, Immelt is the ruthless Thomas Edison in spades, and should be nowhere near the peoples' government, particularly this incompetetent administration that knows next to nothing about what made this country a global financial powerhouse.

Selling out to a global mega-corporation was certainly not how we got there.

Posted by: r_loveland | January 21, 2011 2:34 PM | Report abuse

This should be called the Wall Street White House.

How many Wall Street employees on the payroll ? than they depart to the Wall Street banks that they helped bailout last year !

Now a GE exec who's firm was bailed out.. yes GE Finance got billions... joins the White House... in a couple of years he'll likely return to GE.

Some wondered why 600 private jets flew in for Obama's inauguration vs only 300 for Bush.

Its simple... many Wall Street firms including all the big banks are Dem-friendly... and Americans still think Republicans are the party of BIG Business.

Who knew ?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Jeffrey Immelt is the worst imaginable choice.

He outsources massive numbers of U.S. jobs to Brazil. Mexico, and China.

Posted by: ed | January 21, 2011 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Jeffrey Immelt? The dude is so totally in the tank for everything green he's starting to look like Kermit--the frog, not the abortionist. But the Melt Man isn't green because he really believes all the AGW hogwash. He's green because he loves all that taxpayer-money he's standing to gain. Jeffrey Immelt: green for the love of money. Perfect. Kermit the abortionist took millions of taxpayer dollars for the killing of innocent life. Immelt is scamming the same money for different reasons; but not too different. Birds of a feather...

Posted by: ironmule | January 21, 2011 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Wow - the CEO of the parent company of Liberaldom's cheerleader networks (MSNBC / NBC). What an inspired choice. What's next - E.J. Dione as the new press sec?

Companies that wear their political affiliation on their sleeves such as GE do so at their own risk: As a conservative, I won't buy any GE consumer product.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 2:44 PM | Report abuse

this is like serving pork at at a Jewish or Muslim banquet!!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

This is a terrible choice. GE just announced they were transferring the avionics package GE developed for the Boeing the tate-owned Chinese aerospace company,AVIC.

In China, there is NO SEPARATION between the military and civilian aviation sector.

If there is a conflict in the Taiwan Strait, we can be sure that GE technology will be used against American airmen, sailors, and soldiers, maybe even through the avionics for China's new stealth jet.

How this GE technology giveaway to the Chinese Communist Party got through US Export controls I have no idea.

But I am steaming mad and ashamed that GE is still called a "U.S. Company."

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 2:55 PM | Report abuse

The first thing someone in that position should be is someone who doesn't care if he gets fired. Immelt doesn't need the job or the president, and he certainly knows what it takes to create and keep jobs here. He can say what it takes to keep jobs here instead of going overseas, and will have some credibility on that score; and if he gets what he says is needed he has the means to deliver.

He is perfect for the job.

Posted by: BobNH | January 21, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry to see Paul Volcker's departure. But the agenda that Jeffrey Immelt laid out in his op-ed is about the best that could be hoped for. It remains to be seen how much he will be able to achieve. But rebuilding our economy needs someone both with practical experience in running an international manufacturing business and the recognition of the need to reverse the downward trend in American manufacturing. Certainly a preoccupation with ideological combat is the wrong qualification. So is a focus on financial markets. The President seems to have made the right kind of choice. But it is a tough job and only time will tell how it works out.

Posted by: dnjake | January 21, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Immelt is definitely the WRONG man for the job. Irrespective of what he says, he took the job because he knows it will be good for GE and its profits. GE is all he cares about. He's an outsourcing fiend. Of course, there is no way to increase manufacturing jobs in the USA at this time for most of the middle class. Not even God could do it. Standard of living, i.e., wages, have to come way, way down first. And they will. Get ready for social unrest.

Posted by: jkarlinsky | January 21, 2011 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Great, the ultimate crony capitalist gets wedded even tighter to the govt.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

This is pretty funny to me. I worked for GE under Welch and then Immelt.. BOTH 'outsourced' several American jobs out of the country.. and now we are going to have him help as a US jobs advisor.. ???

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Perfect! Now you've got the fox telling the chicken farmer how to run his hen house.

Posted by: stevestegman | January 21, 2011 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Dare I say "incest" ? Wall Street Democrats ?

This Administration approves GE-NBC-COMCAST merger AND makes CEO Immelt part of Administration -- in same week!

Lets just be clear hear... the Democrat party is the Party of Wall Street.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Chicago politics 101, my friends . . . or should I say Obama's friends, who will be rewarded. Mutual backscratching. Needless to say, the Post would howl if a Republican president were to so overtly favor an obvious political crony.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Just try to buy a U.S. made light bulb. Some are still made here but not by GE. GE lamps are all made elsewhere as will be every product in the line except some industrial machinery and SOME of the products for direct U.S. government use.

Posted by: ozarkretiree | January 21, 2011 4:47 PM | Report abuse

As one of the leading practitioners of offshoring American jobs to China and elsewhere, Immelt is emphatically not the right choice to head a commission on American jobs. GE is also one of the so-called American companies hoarding billions of dollars of profits overseas, hoping to avoid paying American income taxes. I thought it was very telling how Immelt spent a lot of time in his Op-Ed talking about "increasing exports" without mentioning the other side of the ledger which is actually creating and expanding our huge trade deficit. That's how all these guys get around addressing the increasing dissatisfaction which a huge majority of Americans have over offshoring. They simply ignore the issue and try to use weasel words to avoid it. I read this to mean business as usual for the economic royalists.

Posted by: ejs2 | January 21, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Bloomington, IL, Bridgeport CT, Fitchburg MA, Pittsfield MA, Winchester VA,Conneaut OH, Albuquerque, NM, Ontario, Calif, JUST A FEW OF THE FACTORIES GE HAS CLOSED AND OUTSOURCED IN THE PAST 10 YEARS OR SO, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK GE

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Here's the thing about outsourcing: what makes you think you deserve any given job more than someone in South America or Asia who will work longer hours for less pay? Why should you get the living wage over them?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 5:29 PM | Report abuse

GE has been poised to make billions of dollars in the "Green" technologies and have been big supporters of Obama, they are getting payback for their loyalty is all. Republicans are not the only ones who are in bed with big bussiness,yes democrats do it as well. It is what it is.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 5:34 PM | Report abuse conflict of interest going on here at all, move along now.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Just about the last thing this country needs is a right-wing business man telling us how to create jobs. Where would those jobs be?

GE is the corporation running Reagan worship commercials on the local television stations.

I do see the irony. It parallels the John Ashcroft parody.

Ashcroft was the right-wing Missouri senator who said the Constitution had outlived its usefulness. 43 made him attorney general, the primary defender of the Constitution, a job the slob didn't take very seriously.

Immelt is one of the right-wing CEOs who idolize the right-wing political machines for eliminating the regulations that kept jobs in the United States.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 7:28 PM | Report abuse

General Electric owns companies in Third world (or developing) countries such as India that are having US Jobs outsourced to them. Major Insurance companies (yes- health insurance companies) have outsourced their customer service and accounting functions to India. If you think you have trouble resolving customer service issues, just wait until your state's insurance commissioner has to rely on their figures when rate increases are requested. I find all of the moves since the current administration took office to be week willed, and particularly solicitous to "the Corporate Fat Cats" to quote the Presidential Candidate Barack Obama, whom I voted for. How naive of me.

Posted by: lulu4 | January 21, 2011 8:20 PM | Report abuse

This is a classic example of the typical and pervasive political split personality, embodied by the need to embrace someone who knows how to negotiate the labyrinthian and esoteric pathways of the corporate world, while at the same time attempting to break free of those very traits which are inimical to escaping the chains of corporate orthodoxy in the first place.

The only way that this works is if the president can think and function beyond such conventional thinking and actually think dispassionately beyond the constraints of the self-protective instincts of the corporate mentality.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 8:44 PM | Report abuse

The last comment was posted by me, and was NOT intended to be anonymous.

Posted by: MillPond2 | January 21, 2011 8:49 PM | Report abuse

A week ago GE signed off on a deal with China to build jet engines for the new Chinese air transport. Those jobs will be in China and there will be technological transfer.

Two days ago to kill union jobs senior mechanics jobs were outsourced by GE to Brazil

Some job creation. Obama You know not what you have done.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 10:01 PM | Report abuse

It's hard to think of a worse choice.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2011 10:57 PM | Report abuse

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