General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt is President Obama’s point person of job creation and economic growth.
That may be the problem.
While Obama says he wants to encourage the creation of family-supporting jobs and to grow the middle class, Immelt is all about enriching himself and growing the gap between rich and poor.
Immelt, the chair of President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, heads America’s largest corporation. General Electric made $14,200,000,000 in profits last year, yet it paid $0 in taxes—as in “zero,” “nothing,” “not a penny.”
With all that extra money, Immelt enjoyed a doubling of his personal compensation. Yet, he was not interested in spreading the prosperity. In fact, GE is expected to ask 15,000 of the company’s unionized workers to agree to sweeping cuts in pay and benefits.
That, says former US Senator Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, sums up “everything that's wrong with corporate power today.”
Feingold says it is wrong for Immelt to continue as the head of Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
“Someone like Immelt, who has helped his company evade taxes on its huge profits—and is now looking to workers to take major pay cuts after his compensation was doubled—should not lead the administration's effort to create jobs,” argues Feingold. “We cannot stand by and watch while we are led down this road. Mr. Immelt must step down from the president's jobs panel—and if he won't, President Obama needs to ask for his resignation.”
The former senator, via his group Progressives United, and with support from MoveOn.org, has launched a national campaign to urge Immelt to step down—or, failing that, to urge President Obama to remove Immelt.
Obama says he is standing by Immelt. But Obama is wrong, and Feingold is right to ramp up the pressure on the president.
“How can someone like Immelt be given the responsibility of heading a jobs creation task force when his company has been creating more jobs overseas while reducing its American workforce? And under Immelt's direction, GE spends hundreds of millions of dollars hiring lawyers and lobbyists to evade taxes. All of this at a time when Fox News and the right wing are demonizing public workers, like teachers, as the cause of our economic problems,” says Feingold. “It's time for policymakers to stop coddling corporate interests, and get to work creating jobs and wealth for Main Street. We shouldn't reward wealthy CEOs and Wall Street for behavior that undermines the nation's economy.”