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Posted at 11:59 AM ET, 03/30/2011

Russ Feingold: Jeffrey Immelt must go

In his post-Senate life, Russ Feingold is staking out a role as a leading voice urging the Democratic Party to adopt a feistier posture towards corporate America. Feingold wants to counterprogram Beltway Dems who think Obama’s best route to reelection is to reinvent himself as more “business friendly” in the face of conservative efforts to paint him as hostile to private enterprise at best and a socialist at worst.

Now, in keeping with this new role, Feingold’s new group, Progressives United, is set to launch a new campaign to pressure General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to step down as the head of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competiveness. Feingold’s campaign — which I’m told will be joined by Move On later today — is based on two pieces of news that, Feingold says, render Immelt unfit for the gig of Obama jobs chief: GE paid no American taxes in 2010; and Immelt’s compensation doubled .

In an email to members of his new group, Feingold will argue that if Immelt doesn’t step down, Obama should fire him, arguing that Dems need to stop coddling corporations whose behavior undermines our economy:

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...

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.

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.” Progressives like Feingold believe that Dems achieve far better organizational success and unleash more grassroots energy — as evidenced by events in Wisconsin — when they adopt a more confrontational posture towards corporations and the politicians who lend them aid and comfort, and unabashedly treat corporate America as the institution whose misbehavior and excess landed us in our economic mess.

Feingold’s full email after the jump.

UPDATE: Feingold’s group has also launched a new petition and Website, ImmeltMustGo.com.

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

Founder

Progressives United

By  |  11:59 AM ET, 03/30/2011

 
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