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Obama trying to mend relationship with business community

John Dimsdale Dec 13, 2010
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Obama trying to mend relationship with business community

John Dimsdale Dec 13, 2010
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Kai Ryssdal: The lame-duck session of Congress is still in full swing, and on that note we should pass along the latest on the tax cut debate. This afternoon the deal worked out between the White House and congressional leaders passed one of those test votes the Senate likes to hold on big bills like this. The final headcount could come tomorrow or Wednesday in the Senate. The thing does still have to pass the House, of course.

The White House, meanwhile, is already looking forward to the New Year. President Obama would like very much to start things off differently. He’s invited 20 CEOs for a closed-door meeting day after tomorrow to see if big business and his administration can start getting along.

Marketplace’s John Dimsdale reports.


John Dimsdale: As President Obama looks for ways to get the economy going again, he can’t expect much from consumers, who face high joblessness, debts and declining home values. And he can’t look to more government spending either. Economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin of the American Action Forum says there is one major player sitting on a record stash of cash.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin: The business community by contrast is financially in very good shape and the question is what will it take for you to open up your pocketbooks and start driving the economy forward?

But companies need to be certain demand is growing before they hire. And they complain that the government’s short-term deals on tax rates, and changing financial and environmental regulations, make it tough to invest for the long term. Johanna Schneider is with the Business Roundtable.

Johanna Schneider: So it would be crucial for CEOs to know what is the tax policy of the U.S. government going to be over the next five to seven years, so there can be some certainty around long term policies.

Businesses say it would help if the administration was more in tune with their thinking. Brian Gardner at the law firm of Keefe Bruyette and Woods expects the White House to hire some more business expertise.

Brian Gardner: The administration does not have a ton of people with business experience. And so there was probably not as much communication as the business community is used to in an administration.

Another thing businesses want to communicate is that excessive government spending could hurt the nation’s debt rating. That would make it more expensive for business and government to borrow.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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