White House and Business Leaders: A Rocky Relationship

Obama economy
President Barack Obama stands with Boeing President, Chairman and CEO Jim McNerney, Jr., right, and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, as he speaks about exports, jobs, and the economy, Wednesday, July 7, 2010, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

No relationship in Washington may be more fickle than that of the White House and the business community.

Last month, at the White House's request, the Business Roundtable and the Business Council sent a 54-page report to the Obama administration outlining what regulations and pending legislation have hurt economic recovery.

"We believe the cumulative effect of these proposals will help defeat the objectives we all share -- reducing unemployment, improving the competitiveness of U.S. companies, and creating an environment that fosters long-term economic growth," wrote Ivan Seidenberg, the CEO of Verizon and the Chairman of the Business Roundtable, and James Owens, the CEO of Caterpillar and the Chairman of the Business Council.

"Virtually every new regulation has an impact on recovery, competitiveness and job creation. Often that impact is negative," they wrote.

Specifically, the report, titled "Policy Burdens Inhibiting Economic Growth," highlights the administration's proposal for taxing companies' foreign earnings, financial regulatory reform, the "failure to move" free trade agreements, pro-labor legislation and the health care bill as legislative accomplishments or proposed legislation that can impact job creation and economic recovery.

In response, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett wrote a letter to Seidenberg this week saying that the White House is always "willing to consider input and ideas from everyone, including the business community." Jarrett said the task going forward is to "provide rules of the road to protect the American people, while fostering an environment that will stimulus growth and job creation."

A White House official tells CBS News that there have been "countless" meetings between the Administration and business leaders over the past 18 months and that the White House has offered business groups the chance to make recommendations for regulatory changes that can ease the burden on businesses. The Administration has been reviewing federal regulations in an attempt to best protect the American consumer while promoting economic growth.

Another powerful business group, the US Chamber of Commerce, has opposed many of the White House's proposals because of the impact the policies would have on economic growth. Tomorrow in Washington, the Chamber (located across Lafayette Park from the White House) is hosting a "Jobs for America" Summit to "discuss the role of government in creating an atmosphere in which the private sector can thrive."

Scheduled to speak at the summit are Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the chairmen of the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, who are tasked with making recommendations on how to best cut the deficit while maintaining economy recovery. The Chamber's president will highlight the themes set forth in the Business Roundtable report by issuing a letter to "address the new regulatory stranglehold placed on America's job creators."

The summit comes a day after the Chamber released a poll it conducted of over 300 small business owners, who expressed pessimism in the economy and the White House's ability to turn it around. Of those polled, 71 percent said the job situation will stay the same or get worse in the next six months; 22 percent think that the Obama administration's policies are having no effect on the economy, while 46 percent say the policies are making it worse. Overall, 57 percent of small business owners polled "feel that this administration does not have a clear plan for creating jobs."

Robert Hendin is a CBS News White House producer. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here.

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    Robert Hendin is senior producer for "Face the Nation" and a CBS News senior political producer.


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