Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Did GE's Jeffrey Immelt Stab Obama in Back?

Or is it just a right-wing writer attempting to create a scandal, and is much ado about nothing?

The New York Post, owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, ran an article by Charles Gasparino, who is a Fox Business Network senior correspondent. The story is about Obama's "Jobs Czar", General Electric's CEO Jeffrey Immelt.

Charles Gasparino also appeared on Fox News today to reiterate his version of events in his story.

Remember GE? The company that reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion last year, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States, but paid ZERO in taxes?. In fact, GE claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

Last year Jeffrey Immelt also said, "Personally, I think lowering taxes will create jobs." Yeah, right!

Last year I wrote: "Jeffrey Immelt was paid about $1,000 for every job he eliminated at GE as its CEO. He earned $21 million to lay off 21,000 of GE's workers. What did he have to do, besides just sign a company memo? And the income tax rate on Jeff Immelt's $21 million personal income is lower than that of a regular worker earning $40,000 a year (only 15% is paid on capital gains taxes on vested stock-options held for at least one year).

Now evidently (according to Charles Gasparino) Jeffrey Immelt (a Republican) is abandoning Obama and will be supporting Mitt Romney - and all while retaining his post as an Obama's advisor. Personally, I would have fired Mister Immelt a long time ago for doing such a poor job of as a "job czar" and for laying off his own employees.

NOTE: A GE spokesman insists that the reports Charles Gasparino is making publicly about Immelt’s private criticism of Obama are “ludicrous.” We have yet to hear anything from Jeffrey Immelt himself.

The New York Post story goes:

Back when he agreed to advise the Obama administration on economics, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt told friends that he thought it would be good for GE and good for the country. A life-long Republican, Immelt said he believed he could at the very least moderate the president’s distinctly anti-business instincts.

That was three years ago; these days Immelt is telling friends something quite different.

Sure, GE has managed to feast on federal subsidies, particularly the “green-energy” giveaways that are Obamanomics’ hallmark.

But Immelt doesn’t think he’s had anywhere near as much luck moderating the president’s fat-cat-bashing, left-leaning economic agenda of taxing businesses and entrepreneurs to pay for government bloat. Fuming: Jeffrey Immelt is reportedly disgusted by Obama’s allegiance to growth-killing policies.

Friends describe Immelt as privately dismayed that, even after three years on the job, President Obama hasn’t moved to the center, but instead further left. The GE CEO, I’m told, is appalled by everything from the president’s class-warfare rhetoric to his continued belief that big government is the key to economic salvation.

Or, as one friend recently put it to me, “Jeff thought he could make a difference, and now realizes he couldn’t.”

Immelt’s conversion from public Obama supporter to a private detractor is important: It shows how even businessmen who feast off his subsidies worry about his overall economic agenda and its long-term impact on the economy.

Don’t expect Immelt to say anything publicly about the downside of president’s economic agenda anytime soon: He’s still serving as what is considered the top outside economic adviser to the White House. (A GE spokesman insists that the reports I’m sharing here about Immelt’s private criticism of Obama are “ludicrous.”)

GE has too much to lose for Immelt to publicly ’fess up to his disdain. The president now routinely talks up his desire to tax businesses that create jobs overseas, and GE overseas expansion is well-documented. Nor does the company want to put all its green subsidies at risk.

And of course the last thing Immelt or his shareholders need is for the president to turn his class-warfare fire on them, as he did to his erstwhile pals in the banking business.

Yet friends report that Immelt’s displeasure with the president’s economic policies is real and palpable in private settings.

Back in 2008, the GE boss gave both to GOP presidential nominee John McCain and, in the Democratic primaries, to Hillary Clinton; he’s said that he voted for McCain. But GE as a whole was one of candidate Obama’s top donors. As noted, Immelt joined the new president’s team, first as a member of Obama’s Economic Advisory Recovery Board and later as head of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Yet even as Immelt continues to dispense advice to the president, friends tell me, he’s privately rooting for Mitt Romney to win the Republican nomination and defeat Obama in the fall.

A GE spokesman says simply, “Mr. Immelt has not decided to support Gov. Romney.” OK — but the GE “community” sure has. In 2008, GE execs (who often take their giving cues from the guy at the top) gave over five times more to Obama than to McCain. This time around, GE executives have raised nearly twice as much for Romney as for Obama, and Romney isn’t even the nominee yet.

I’m told a clue to Immelt’s disenchantment with the president can be found in GE’s annual letter to shareholders, in which the CEO laments, “We live in a tough era in which the public discourse, in general, is negative . . . American companies, particularly big companies, are vilified,” when “we need to work together to find a better way.”

Sure doesn’t sound like an Obama booster to me.

SOURCE: New York Post and Fox News

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