The White House has released a photograph of President Obama meeting in the Oval Office with billionaire investor Warren Buffet this morning.
The photo was released as the White House faces increased criticisms from big business leaders for what they call a hostile anti-business climate. In a hastily called meeting, President Obama and Vice President Biden will meet with President Bill Clinton and business leaders at the White House “to discuss new ways to create jobs in the private sector and strengthen the partnership between the public and private sectors to make new investments in the clean energy industry.”
The CEO of Verizon and the chairman of the Business Roundtable, Ivan Seidenberg, recently said that “by reaching into virtually every sector of economic life, government is injecting uncertainty into the marketplace and making it harder to raise capital and create new businesses.” And the Financial Times reported that a member of the White House Recovery Board, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, in a private dinner recently, "had harsh words for Barack Obama, U.S. president, lamenting what he called a ‘terrible’ national mood and expressing concern that overregulation in response to the global financial crisis would damp a tepid U.S. economic recovery. Business did not like the U.S. president, and the president did not like business, he said."
Asked about these criticisms, White House senior adviser David Axelrod told THIS WEEK Sunday that “that there was a kind of ‘Katie, bar the doors’ philosophy in Washington during the eight years previous to us. And what it led to was a financial disaster. And all these companies were in very difficult straits. In fact, their -- their profits are up 65 percent since -- since that time, over the last two years. Our financial system is now stable instead of collapsing, which would have been a devastating thing for every business in this country, large and small.”
Axelrod said “we're working closely with business and we want to continue to work closely with business, but working closely doesn't mean that we simply turn away from the kinds of corrective measures that are necessary to prevent that kind of disaster from happening again, and that's what we're pursuing.”
But the White House appears to be trying to reach out to the business community. In addition to the meeting called today, yesterday White House Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett wrote to Seidenberg saying the White House has "an open door and are always willing to consider input and ideas from everyone, including the business community, as we continue to work together to provide rules of the road to protect the American people, while fostering an environment that will stimulate job growth and job creation.”