Obama taps General Electric chairman to lead economic council
President Barack Obama announced Friday that General Electric (GE) Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt will chair the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
The new council was to replace the Economic Recovery Advisory Board headed by Paul Volcker.
In making his announcement, Obama said Volcker’s panel had pulled the economy “back from the brink” and Immelt would have the responsibility of “putting the economy into overdrive.”
“Jeff’s somebody who brings a wealth of experience to the table,” he added. “We think GE has something to teach businesses all across America.”
“I have served for the past two years on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, and I look forward to leading the next phase of this effort as we transition from recovery to long-term growth,” Immelt wrote in a Friday op-ed.
He continued: “The president and I are committed to a candid and full dialogue among business, labor and government to help ensure that the United States has the most competitive and innovative economy in the world.”
“Immelt’s ascension to a post that has the ear of the president — taking the place of Paul Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman more sympathetic to labor’s interests — has unions and their advocates worried,” The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein wrote.
“I think the challenge with Immelt, and I’m just wondering about the politics of this too, because you have the industrial heartland which is still a battleground, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin,” the Alliance for American Manufacturing’s Paul Scott said. “They have all been devastated by manufacturing job loss, and in Jeff Immelt you have a CEO who has supported all of the policies that have led to that devastation.”
“I think the president has a hard time convincing the American people that having an outsourcing CEO as your key adviser on jobs and competitiveness is going to be a winner for them,” he added.
Immelt’s appointment comes on the heels of the Federal Communications Commission approving the sale of GE’s share of NBC Universal to Comcast, the largest US cable television and high-speed broadband provider.