Those expected to attend include the chief executives of Honeywell, Wal-Mart and General Electric, some of whom are Republicans.
The West Wing meeting is coming just as Washington’s business and trade associations are grappling with the results of the 2012 election, in which many business-backed candidates were defeated despite record spending by groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which was not invited to the White House.
One business group that has quickly gained attention from the White House is the Campaign to Fix the Debt, a relatively new organization that includes some of the chief executives meeting with Obama this week. The group has raised more than $40 million to support the broad goals of a bipartisan presidential commission led by former Clinton administration official Erskine Bowles and former Republican senator Alan Simpson, who produced a plan for deficit reduction and fiscal reform in 2010.
The group is expected to launch a million-dollar ad campaign in newspapers and transit billboards in Washington and other cities Tuesday, the same day Congress returns for a post-election session focused on the fiscal cliff. The group’s spending could grow dramatically in coming weeks.
While the general principles of the Campaign to Fix the Debt do not provoke argument, the statements of some chief executives and the advocacy of Simpson-Bowles solutions have alarmed some business organizations.
“Any serious reform must include significantly more in spending reductions than in revenue,” said Jade West, who manages a Washington business group called the Tax Relief Coalition. She said the current version of proposed Bowles-Simpson changes “does not achieve that objective.”
In addition, West said any deal that would end the George W. Bush-era tax cuts would result in a stern response from her members, which include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and hundreds of small businesses. “That would be unacceptable,” said West, senior vice president at the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors.
At the U.S. Chamber, officials are pushing for reductions in spending on federal entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
The Chamber is planning to submit a letter to all members of Congress on behalf of another broad coalition that will emphasize the need for entitlement reform. Using data from the Congressional Budget Office and the agency that runs Social Security, the letter will make the case that the “nation’s entitlement programs are unsustainable,” said R. Bruce Josten, a Chamber executive vice president.