Which CEOs will visit President Obama Wednesday?

November 14, 2012

President Obama met Wednesday with several corporate executives to discuss how to deal with looming tax increases and spending cuts.

Who are these business leaders? They’re from a range of some of this country’s biggest and most storied companies, from consumer products giant Procter & Gamble to IBM. The CEOs are not Washington neophytes, either. A few have become familiar faces on various White House councils dealing with the economy or education. Others have taken on big roles at prominent business lobbying groups in town.

Here is a sample of who’s coming to the White House:

Mark Bertolini, chief executive at Aetna, one of the country’s biggest health insurers. Bertonlini has warned he may cut jobs at Aetna if Obama and Republicans don’t make a deal to avert the “fiscal cliff.”

Bertolini became CEO of Aetna near the end of 2010, just months after Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Last year, the company gave $4.5 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a frequent foe of the White House, and $3.3 million to American Action Network, a conservative advocacy group, according to SNL Financial.

Altogether, the company spent more than $2 billion on lobbing last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The top issue, naturally, was health care.

Ursula Burns, who took over the helm of Xerox in 2009, has been trying to save her company from irrelevance by moving aggressively away from selling copy machines and more into selling services such as processing credit card applications.

It’s a tough turnaround, and the company’s stock performance reflects it; Xerox hasn’t been worth more than $15 a share since 2008.

Burns has become a go-to chief executive for the White House. She has served as vice chair of the President’s Export Council, a member of the White House’s jobs council and was asked in 2010 to lead an initiative to improve science education in this country.

So far this year, Xerox has spent $510,000 on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. (Burns is also on the board of The Washington Post Co.)

●Ginni Rometty, the first female chief executive for IBM, runs the legendary $107 billion company, which has been growing at a startling rate in recent years.

More low-key than the trendy hi-tech giants like Google and Apple, IBM has quietly shot up in market value as the company has reinvented itself to offer more consulting services, along with its software and hardware.

Rometty won the No. 1 spot this year on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women in Business list.

IBM has spent more than $2.5 million on lobbying in 2012.

●Dave Cote’s company, Honeywell, makes everything from thermostats to flight-control systems for airplanes.

Cote has been a prominent face at the Business Roundtable, the business group comprising of multinational chief executives. And he has only become more visible as the fiscal cliff has become a bigger issue.

He and Jeff Immelt, the head of General Electric, have taken on roles with the Campaign to Fix the Debt, a new group with a big budget and the support of many chief executives.

Honeywell itself has spent more than $3.3 million lobbying this year.

●Andrew Liveris, chief executive at Dow Chemical, has become a major voice on the Business Roundtable regarding regulations. In a book he wrote, “Make It In America,” the Australian-born Liveris criticized this country’s regulations, saying they often “hinder American manufacturers without helping anyone in particular.”

Dow has spent more than $7 billion on lobbying so far this year, mostly on environmental regulations.

Other expected attendees:

Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and CEO, American Express

Mike Duke, president and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO, General Electric

Robert McDonald, president and CEO, Proctor & Gamble

Alan Mulally, president and CEO, Ford

Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO, PepsiCo.

John Watson, chairman and CEO, Chevron

Jia Lynn Yang is a staff writer at The Washington Post who covers policy and business. Before joining the Post, she worked at Fortune magazine.
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