The union leader rose from his seat, looked at Immelt and said, “The president has just put out a jobs bill. Don’t you think one of the things we should do as his jobs council is look at that and adopt it?”
According to Trumka, Immelt replied: “We think that’s too political.”
Trumka recalled saying, “Adopting the president’s jobs bill is too political? What in it don’t you agree with? Tell me what it is you don’t agree with. What would be bad for jobs?”
The conversation moved on.
Obama has benefited from the relationships he has had with executives. Having never worked in the private sector, he is able to show that he can rely on the expertise of some of the country’s leading executives.
He has used his close relationship with Warren Buffett, one of the nation’s most prominent businessmen, to promote the White House’s plan to increase taxes on the wealthy. (Buffett’s Berkshire-Hathaway is the largest shareholder of The Washington Post Co.)
Obama also has been able to claim part of the credit — or at least share the stage — for major deals to sell U.S.-manufactured goods to foreign customers, supporting American jobs.
GE has been a beneficiary of a number of Obama administration policies — namely efforts to nurture a domestic clean energy industry. GE manufactures many technologies used in clean energy, such as wind turbines.
Immelt was welcomed into Obama’s inner circle at the beginning of the term, and he has made it clear that he won’t back any candidate in this election.
Still, overall, GE and its employees have moved from supporting Obama and the Democrats to Romney and the Republicans this year. In the 2008 cycle, GE employees gave Obama’s campaign $530,000 — five times the $102,000 that they gave Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). This time, the advantage has flipped.
Romney has taken in $135,450 from GE employees — four times the $38,032 that Obama has secured, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. GE’s political action committee also has given more to Republicans this year than Democrats. In 2010 and 2008, Democrats received more.
Boeing also has benefited in many ways from Obama’s tenure. The president has pushed to expand the Export-Import Bank, a government agency that makes relatively inexpensive loans available to foreign customers buying U.S. products. Boeing, by far, has been the biggest beneficiary of those loans, which foreign airlines use to buy the companies’ planes. His administration has worked to sell Boeing jets to commercial airlines and foreign militaries.
In February, Obama visited Boeing’s factory in Everett, Wash. The next month, he appeared before the Business Roundtable, which McNerney chairs, and declared: “I have to say that, given the number of planes that I’ve been selling around the world, I expect a gold watch upon my retirement.”