Obama Taps GE’s Immelt for Jobs Panel
President Obama has picked Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric, to head a new jobs panel. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.
President Obama has tapped General Electric chief executive Jeffrey Immelt to head a new outside economic advisory council to focus on job creation and U.S. competitiveness.
The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness will replace the Economic Recovery Advisory Board that was formed in early 2009 with the country in the midst of an economic crisis.
Former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, who led the group from the start, will step down next month as an adviser to the administration. Immelt has served as a member of the board for the past two years.
“The president and I are committed to a candid and full dialogue among business, labor and government to help ensure that the United States has the most competitive and innovative economy in the world,” Immelt wrote Friday in a Washington Post editorial. He named manufacturing, free trade and innovation as three priorities of the new council.
Julianna Goldman and Rachel Layne of Bloomberg News offer this take on the president’s selection: “Immelt, 54, gives the White House a corporate heavyweight who can help burnish Obama’s pro-business credentials. He heads the world’s biggest maker of jet engines, locomotives, medical- imaging equipment and power-plant turbines and has sounded many of the administration’s themes: boosting jobs through U.S. exports, ensuring companies can compete with new powers like China and India, and jumpstarting a clean-energy economy.”
The president will travel Friday to Schenectady, N.Y., where he will be joined by Immelt for a tour of a General Electric plant. President Obama is also expected to deliver remarks about the economy and job creation.
READY TO RUN
While President Obama has yet to formally announce that he intends to seek re-election, he knows where the operation will be run when he does: Chicago. Mr. Obama would be the first modern-day president to set his headquarters away from Washington.
“To avoid turf battles, chaotic communications and duplicated efforts, aides said, a significant realignment is under way in the West Wing, with the duties of the political office being taken up by the Democratic National Committee,” reports the New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny:
Among the staff changes: Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina will manage the campaign from Chicago, while White House social secretary Julianna Smoot and DNC Executive Director Jennifer O’Malley Dillon will serve as deputy campaign managers.
More from Zeleny on the realignment: “The White House political director, Patrick Gaspard, will take over the day-to-day duties of running the Democratic National Committee, with Tim Kaine, the former Virginia governor, still serving as general chairman.”
At Thursday’s briefing with reporters, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the move was made as part of an effort to streamline the operation. “I think that’s a matter of duplication and efficiency that makes a lot of sense, to house that operation over at the Democratic National Committee,” Gibbs said.
The shakeup coincides with the arrival of 2008 campaign architect David Plouffe to the White House to coordinate political activity, and as senior adviser David Axelrod prepares to leave for Chicago.
As for the timing of an official announcement by the president, the Washington Post’s Anne Kornblut reports, “White House officials said Obama will formally announce his candidacy around April when he files the official paperwork with the Federal Election Commission.”
AN END TO MATCHING FUNDS?
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced Wednesday that the House will vote next week on ending the public financing system for presidential elections, which according to Cantor would save $520 million over ten years.
The program matches private donations with federal dollars for candidates in the primary and general elections, funds the party conventions, and also has spending limits. It is paid for through a voluntary donation made on income tax returns. Every presidential nominee except President Obama has participated in the program since the public financing system was enacted in 1976.
The proposal stems from Cantor’s “YouCut” program, which invites people to suggest their own ideas for cuts to the federal government. The cut to the funding program is part of the GOP’s larger effort to cut as much as $100 billion from the federal government from the remaining 2011 fiscal year.
In a statement Wednesday, Cantor asked for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to commit to cuts in the federal budget as well. The elimination of federal funding for campaigns would have to pass through Reid in order to become law.
“I challenge Leader Reid and Senate Democrats to consider putting forward their own spending cuts. The House Republican Majority is leading the cut and grow charge and it is time for the Senate Majority to get serious about tackling our debt and reducing out of control spending,” the statement read.
The conservative Republican Study Committee also outlined Wednesday a plan to cut $2.5 trillion in spending over ten years.
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