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Feingold calls for GE CEO Immelt to step down as Obama jobs chief

By David Edwards
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 13:37 EDT
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Former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D) is outraged that the man that President Barack Obama has put in charge of creating jobs is the CEO of a company that paid no taxes last year.

Obama named GE CEO Jeff Immelt as the head of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competiveness in January.

To make matters worse, the liberal blog ThinkProgress revealed Monday that Immelt’s company plans to ask 15,000 workers to make major wage and benefit concessions.

In an email obtained by The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent Wednesday, Feingold was expected to call for Immelt to give up his White House job.

“But what really adds insult to injury is the prestigious and influential position Jeffrey Immelt holds as chair of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness,” the former Democratic senator wrote. “That’s wrong.”

“Someone like Immelt, who has helped his company evade taxes on its huge profits — and is now looking to workers to take major pay cuts after his compensation was doubled — should not lead the administration’s effort to create jobs,” he added.

“We shouldn’t reward wealthy CEOs and Wall Street for behavior that undermines the nation’s economy.”

“Feingold’s demand reflects a sense that there’s a large constituency on the left that is fed up with the tendency of corporatist Beltway Dems to treat corporations with kid gloves because they’re ‘job creators,’” Sargent observed.

MoveOn.org was expected to join Feingold Wednesday in calling for Immelt to step down.

Feingold’s full letter to supporters follows.

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Friend,

It’s everything that’s wrong with corporate power today: News broke last week that General Electric, America’s largest corporation, made $14,200,000,000 in profits last year and paid $0 in taxes — that’s right, zero dollars in taxes. At the same time, C.E.O. Jeffrey Immelt saw his compensation double. Now I hear that GE is expected to ask 15,000 of their unionized workers to make major concessions in wages and benefits.

But what really adds insult to injury is the prestigious and influential position Jeffrey Immelt holds as chair of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. That’s wrong. Someone like Immelt, who has helped his company evade taxes on its huge profits — and is now looking to workers to take major pay cuts after his compensation was doubled — should not lead the administration’s effort to create jobs.

We cannot stand by and watch while we are led down this road. Mr. Immelt must step down from the president’s jobs panel — and if he won’t, President Obama needs to ask for his resignation.

Help us build public pressure on GE’s Jeffrey Immelt to step down or President Obama to get his resignation from the jobs council: Sign our petition at www.ImmeltMustGo.com today!

How can someone like Immelt be given the responsibility of heading a jobs creation task force when his company has been creating more jobs overseas while reducing its American workforce? And under Immelt’s direction, GE spends hundreds of millions of dollars hiring lawyers and lobbyists to evade taxes. All of this at a time when Fox News and the right wing are demonizing public workers, like teachers, as the cause of our economic problems.

It’s time for policymakers to stop coddling corporate interests, and get to work creating jobs and wealth for Main Street. We shouldn’t reward wealthy CEOs and Wall Street for behavior that undermines the nation’s economy.

Be a part of this meaningful fight. Help us tell President Obama that if GE isn’t paying taxes or treating workers well, Immelt Must Go!

President Obama has been talking about how we must “win the future,” and I agree with him in that goal. Jeffrey Immelt is not the person for that job.

Thanks for uniting as a progressive,

Russ Feingold

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David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
 
 
 
 
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