Obama: All We Are Saying Is, Give CEOs a Chance

President Obama makes his way to board Marine One last month on the South Lawn of the White House.
National Journal
Ben Geman
Aug. 4, 2014, 6:04 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama is of­fer­ing a the­ory of the mod­ern CEO: the en­lightened cap­tive.

He said that on top­ics in­clud­ing the en­vir­on­ment and edu­ca­tion, CEOs who say they want to act in the pub­lic in­terest are sty­mied by Cap­it­ol Hill Re­pub­lic­ans or may not be push­ing their own lob­by­ists hard enough.

“There’s a huge gap between the pro­fessed val­ues and vis­ions of cor­por­ate CEOs and how their lob­by­ists op­er­ate in Wash­ing­ton,” Obama told The Eco­nom­ist in the in­ter­view pub­lished Sat­urday. Obama said he has a chal­lenge for CEOs: “[I]s your lob­by­ist work­ing as hard on those is­sues as he or she is on pre­serving that tax break that you’ve got? And if the an­swer is no, then you don’t care about it as much as you say.”

He ap­plauds busi­ness com­munity ef­forts to win im­mig­ra­tion policy changes, but says busi­ness lead­ers are run­ning up against a GOP that sees the need for an over­haul yet is “cap­tive to the nat­iv­ist ele­ments in its party.”

What about cli­mate change? Obama said CEOs, as a pop­u­la­tion, have split with “deni­al­ists.” “There aren’t any cor­por­ate CEOs that you talk to, at least out­side of maybe—no, I will in­clude CEOs of the fossil-fuel in­dus­tries—who are still deny­ing that cli­mate change is a factor,” he said.

This real-or-not-real fram­ing is help­ful to Obama at a time when many Re­pub­lic­ans re­main cli­mate-change skep­tics. But if these CEOs may split with the GOP on sci­ence, when it comes to policy, the com­mon ground between busi­ness groups and Re­pub­lic­ans re­mains a huge piece of real es­tate.

Sure, a num­ber of ma­jor com­pan­ies back the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency’s plans to lim­it car­bon emis­sions from coal-fired power plants. Cor­por­a­tions signed on to a sup­port­ive let­ter to Obama in June in­cluded Nike, Uni­lever, Levi Strauss, and oth­ers.

But in the main, power­ful busi­ness and in­dustry groups in­clud­ing the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce and the Na­tion­al As­so­ci­ation of Man­u­fac­tur­ers are bat­tling the EPA plan at the heart of Obama’s second-term cli­mate agenda.

Obama, however, told The Eco­nom­ist that CEOs’ over­rid­ing in­terest is in pre­dict­ab­il­ity.

“What they want is some cer­tainty around the reg­u­la­tions, so that they can start plan­ning. Giv­en the cap­it­al in­vest­ments that they have to make, they’re look­ing at 20-, 30-year in­vest­ments. They’ve got to know now, are we pri­cing car­bon? Are we ser­i­ous about this? But none of them are en­ga­ging in some of the non­sense that you’re hear­ing out of the cli­mate-change deni­al­ists,” he said.

MOST READ
What We're Following See More »
1.5 MILLION MORE TUNED IN FOR TRUMP
More People Watched Trump’s Acceptance Speech
15 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Hillary Clinton hopes that television ratings for the candidates' acceptance speeches at their respective conventions aren't foreshadowing of similar results at the polls in November. Preliminary results from the networks and cable channels show that 34.9 million people tuned in for Donald Trump's acceptance speech while 33.3 million watched Clinton accept the Democratic nomination. However, it is still possible that the numbers are closer than these ratings suggest: the numbers don't include ratings from PBS or CSPAN, which tend to attract more Democratic viewers.

Source:
×