The very same corporate billionaires sitting on nearly two thirds of the nation's wealth, the plutocrats responsible for the biggest wealth disparity in American history, are now being asked to hang out at the White House and solve the unemployment problem. President Obama convened the group for its first meeting on Thursday. His opening remarks were an exercise in wishy-washiness - even for him. Let's face it: his heart was just not in what he was saying to this biggest concentration of living, breathing mega-wealth in purportedly human form seen in D.C. since....I dunno, last week? Let his words speak for themselves:
"So my main purpose here today at this first meeting I think is to listen, to get a sense of where all of you think the economy is right now, what kinds of steps we need to be taking. As I talked about during the State of the Union, we want to remove any barriers and any impediments that are preventing you from success and from growth. At the same time, we want to put a challenge to America’s businesses that even as we're working with you to streamline regulations, to reform our tax system, to take other steps that have been sitting on the shelf for quite some time under both Democratic and Republican Presidents, we want to make sure that we're also putting a little pressure on you guys to figure out how do we make sure that the economy is working for everybody; how do we make sure that every child out there who’s willing to work hard is going to be able to succeed; how do we make certain that working families across the country are sharing in growing productivity and that we're not simply creating an economy in which one segment of it is doing very well, but the rest of the folks are out there treading water.So, Jeff, again, I want to thank you for your extraordinary work. I want to thank all of you for agreeing to participate.
Last point I'll make is that I'm not interested in photo ops and I'm not interested in more meetings. I've got enough photo ops and enough meetings. I have a surplus of that. So I expect this to be a working group in which we are coming up with some concrete deliverables. I don't think that we have to be trying to hit homeruns every time. I think if we hit some singles and doubles, if we find some very specific things that this group can help us on and we can work on together, then we can build on that success, and in the aggregate, over time, this will have really made a difference at a critical juncture in our economy."
Members of the White House Council on Jobs and Competiveness: (comprised of 19 CEOs, two union leaders, two academics, one chief operating officer, one investment banker and one expert in entrepreneurship. Nineteen of the members are men, seven are women.)
The Non-Photo Op Photo Op
Jeffrey Immelt, Chair