Obama Meets With Buffett to Discuss Economy, Jobs

By Kate Andersen Brower
(c) 2010 Bloomberg News
Wednesday, July 14, 2010; 12:00 AM

July 14 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama met today with Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s Warren Buffett to discuss the economy and conferred separately with business leaders including Bank of America Corp. Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan and Honeywell International Inc. Chairman David Cote, a White House official said.

Obama and Buffett discussed how to work with the private sector to stimulate growth and create jobs, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. Buffett, 79, was an adviser to Obama's presidential campaign.

The two men "spoke about the economy in a fairly lengthy meeting," Gibbs said. "He wanted to come in and see the president and we don't turn down the opportunity to talk to Warren Buffett." Obama also gave Buffett one of his ties because Buffett's was frayed, another White House aide said.

In the later meeting, Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton, met for an hour with business leaders about how to create jobs, how the government can work with private industry to encourage clean energy, and agreed that making buildings more energy efficient should be a top priority, one of the officials said.

Obama has been trying to bolster relations with corporate leaders, recruiting executives for presidential committees and inviting business leaders to lunch at the White House as some business organizations have battled the administration on issues such as financial regulation and the overhaul of the health-care system.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest lobbying group for U.S. business, held a summit on job creation today and is urging the president to curb regulations and continue the Bush administration's tax cuts to avert a double-dip recession.

Chamber President Tom Donohue said the uncertainty of pending regulations on health care, the environment and financial services is weighing on businesses, dampening the economic outlook.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said today they were "surprised and disappointed" at rhetoric from some in the business community.

"It is clear that we are in a very different place than we were 18 months ago," Emanuel and Jarrett said in a letter to the chamber. The two officials said the administration is working with Congress to cut taxes and increase credit for small businesses.

"We are all working toward the same goal of putting Americans back to work and getting our economy back on track," the letter said. "The stakes are far too high for us to be working against one another."

Obama's afternoon meeting also included Mark Gallogly, founder and managing partner of Centerbridge Partners LP; David Myers, a vice president and president of building efficiency, Johnson Controls Inc.; Jeffrey Eckel, chief executive of Hannon Armstrong, and David Anderson, executive vice president of business development, Ameresco Inc., a renewable energy company in Melville, New York, according to a White House statement.

© 2010 bloomberg.com