Obama makes corporate America his business

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's main hall, where President Obama gave his I-love-business speech on Monday, displays the flags of Columbus, Cortes and Ponce de Leon. Inscribed on the beams overhead are messages such as:

Alexander the Great found India.

Xenophon crossed Asia Minor.

Peary reached the North Pole.

Now, 102 years after Cmdr. Peary's expedition, the Chamber can carve the name of another explorer:

Obama discovered corporate America.

"I strolled over from across the street," the president said of his trek from the White House across Lafayette Square to the Chamber's H Street palace. "And look, maybe if we had brought over a fruitcake when I first moved in, we would have gotten off to a better start."

When the laughter ended, Obama departed from his prepared text to add: "But I'm going to make up for it."

He sure is - and if the list of goodies he read out Monday is any indication, he would have found it easier to deliver the fruitcake.

Obama told the business lobby about the executives who have important roles in his administration: J.P. Morgan Chase's Bill Daley, GE's Jeff Immelt and AOL's Steve Case. "We need to make America the best place on Earth to do business," the president promised.

Let's get rid of those "outdated and unnecessary regulations," the onetime corporate scold said, and remove that "burdensome corporate tax code with one of the highest rates in the world."

The president boasted that his administration had slowed down environmental rulemaking and accelerated drug approvals. Rather than browbeat corporate America, as he did in his early days in office, he pleaded for more hiring with sports phrases such as "get off the sidelines" and "get in the game."

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