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Posted at 3:20 PM ET, 02/ 7/2011

Obama's speech to U.S. Chamber of Commerce disappoints progressive groups

By Ariana Eunjung Cha

The President Obama who appeared before the Chamber of Commerce on Monday morning was nothing like the one the lobbying group's members had gotten to know over the two years they were at war.

Obama skipped his criticism of the group's politicking and its stance on various signature issues -- such as the financial regulatory overhaul and the health-care law -- that the administration had pushed forward.

He instead talked about being "more neighborly" and focused on issues, such as education and research investment, on which the government and corporations could cooperate to jump-start the economy.

While the speech drew applause from the business community (if only twice, and briefly), it made the president the target of other groups that expressed betrayal.

Not long after Obama had finished his speech, the criticism began.

A progressive New York group called the Agenda Project released a video slamming the president for meeting with the chamber, which over the past two years had been the equivalent of the White House's arch-enemy. The chamber clashed with the administration over foreign money in elections, the health-care law, the financial regulation overhaul and numerous other issues.

"Two weeks ago the president promised that he would work to rebuild people's faith in government -- meeting with the biggest lobbyists in the country is hardly a step in the right direction," said Erica Payne, the Agenda Project's founder.

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, was just as harsh:

It's unclear what is more mortifying: President Barack Obama choosing the club of America's notorious job-offshorers to talk about the importance of creating American jobs, or his rallying of his fiercest political opponents to help him overcome the majority of Americans who oppose more-of-the-same job-killing trade agreements and pass a NAFTA-style deal with Korea that the government's own analysis shows will increase our trade deficit.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | February 7, 2011; 3:20 PM ET
Categories:  U.S. Chamber of Commerce, White House  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama to Chamber of Commerce on shared goals: Making U.S. 'the best place on Earth to do business'
Next: Economic agenda: Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011


Obama deserves all the criticism he gets from progressives.

Obama can't have it both ways. He is either for the middle and working class, or he is for the rich.

So far, all the evidence points to the latter, because they keep getting richer and the rest of us keep getting poorer.

And all the pretty speeches in the world won't change that. And that is all Obama is good for - pretty speeches.

Posted by: solsticebelle | February 7, 2011 10:34 PM | Report abuse

I can give a businesspersons' point of view:

Workers can only make more money when they are more productive. Productivity comes from accountability, training, capital and technology. Investments in each must be attractive. Unions undermine accountability. Training in most jobs programs does not produce relevant job skills - too many boondoggles with federal loan programs. Obama hit the ball over the fence on bonus depreciation and the investment research tax credit. Extending the domestic producers' credit is a good program also.

Next, regulations are a cost of doing business that reduces the attractiveness of investing in domestic capital and workforces. Technology and capital travel just fine but the workers get left out when they go overseas. Reduce regulation and enforce through more industry outreach and cooperative research. In agriculture the Farm Advisors and Ag Commisioners at the county level enforce a broad swath of farm regs and with a technical solutions approach. Copy this and reduce command and control oriented regulators.

The government wants jobs and hates employers. Labor laws in a number of states are onerously against the employer. Tort reform is still necessary. Obama needs these issues on his radar.

Posted by: john19 | February 7, 2011 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Progressives being short-sighted has become a common occurence. The US Chamber of Commerce is a player; it's not going anywhere, and the President has to deal with them. Picking fights with them would be a waste of time, energy and effort and won't accomplish anything. Criticising the President for this kind of outreach is silly.

Posted by: dailyfare | February 8, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

What is your business, john? It seems trolls always have a business, show me a business card, or a relative in Germany dying because of thier healthcare system, give me a phone number to call. Tort reform is alive and well in Texas and California, and is doing nada for either state. You hit every troll point- the unions, regulations, blah, blah. I never see private industry ever come on board to help anyone until taxpayer money set up infrastructure for them i.e, defense contracting, paring meters, tollways. It's o.k to be a pig at the trough then, but when do they ever fix a road. Just getting sick of lies, man. Worse, getting sick of trolls.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2011 1:39 PM | Report abuse

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