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The socialist president plays host to capitalism

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Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- James McNerney, chief executive officer of Boeing Co., talks about today's meeting between President Barack Obama and and 20 company executives in efforts to accelerate the U.S. economic recovery. McNerney, speaking with Betty Liu on Bloomberg Television's "Bottom Line," also discusses Boeing's plan to hire "four or five thousand people" in 2011 because of export growth. (Source: Bloomberg)

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"I believe that the primary engine of America's economic success is not government," the president went on. "It's the dynamism of our markets. And for me, the most important question about an economic idea is... whether it will help spur businesses, jobs and growth."

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The business of America is business.

By this time, the CEOs had already disembarked from their Lincoln Town Cars on 17th Street and were waiting in Blair House. Google's Schmidt arrived later than the others, went to the wrong building -- he obviously hadn't consulted Google Maps -- and was set straight by CNBC's Eamon Javers.

Whatever Obama said privately to the executives over the next four-plus hours, they must have liked it. When they emerged from Blair House, several of them stopped at the microphones to welcome the president into the club of capitalists.

"I think they have a lot of business acumen in the White House," judged UBS's Robert Wolf, an Obama golfing partner.

"The president and a number of the business leaders there felt they were on the same team," contributed Mark Gallogly, co-founder of Centerbridge Partners and one of those on the president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

"We all want America to win!" gushed Amex's Chenault.

Boeing's McNerney said the CEOs had granted Obama forgiveness for the hostility many of them felt from the administration over the last two years. "We all wanted to move beyond the tone that created this confrontational environment," he said. "We all made our apologies and all said we're moving on. We all wanted to wear the same thing on the front of the jersey, which is about this nation's employment and competitiveness."

Go team! If he keeps it up, this socialist president will earn himself a tickertape parade on Wall Street.

danamilbank@washpost.com


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