In an interview that aired Sunday, General Electric Chairman and Obama job czar Jeffrey Immelt told CBS’ Leslie Stahl that the notion that Americans were against big companies was “just wrong.”
“I want you to root for me,” Immelt said. “Everybody in Japan roots for Toshiba. Everybody in China roots for China South Rail. I want you to say, ‘Win, G.E.'”
Not only has G.E. shipped thousands of U.S. jobs overseas, the company also reportedly paid no taxes in 2010. Protesters at Occupy Wall Street and across the country are calling for corporations to be taxed at least at the same rate as individuals.
Former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D) responded to Immelt Monday.
“Mr. Immelt is not recognizing that you root for corporations when corporations are making sure your jobs stay here in the United States,” Feingold explained. “His corporation has had more to do with shipping jobs overseas than almost any corporation in the world. And so, the deal here is we root for corporations and we support them if they’re fair to us. And these people who are protesting are recognizing that just about everything that has happened to working people has been unfair in recent years.”
“When people look at these Occupy Wall Street protests though, support has grown across the country as we have seen,” CBS’ Erica Hill noted. “Is this the best way to go about making change and if it is, how do you turn this support into some sort of a movement?”
“This is a great way to make change,” Feingold declared. “I don’t just understand what the protesters are saying, I’m not just pleased about it, I’m excited about it. A few yards from here [in Madison, Wisconsin], some of the biggest protests in history of this country occurred when [Gov. Scott Walker (R)] ripped away the collective bargaining rights of public employees in Wisconsin. We did it here and I think this is going to happen all over the country because people have been kicked when they’re down over and over. You can only kick people so long before they react. So this is the time now for accountability. And this is a good way to show people how strongly we feel that the working people of this country have been treated very brutally and it has to change.”
Feingold also responded to comments made over the weekend by Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, that the Occupy Wall Street protesters were “anti-American.”
“There is nothing more un-American that a person like Mr. Cain trying to intimidate people from exercising their right to protest,” the former Wisconsin senator explained. “There is nothing more American that peaceful protests and if people are being hurt, if they can’t get a job, if students go to school for five or six years and take out student loans and come out and see they are getting no job and no opportunity, and people on Wall Street continue to get whatever they want or are not properly regulated, that’s the time to protest. This is the time to protest. It is the most American thing you can do.”
Watch this video from CBS’ The Early Show, broadcast Oct. 10, 2011.