President Obama Wins Some, Loses Other CEOs


The longer America’s economic doldrums continue, and the debt-ceiling talks drag on, the more that Corporate America feels compelled to speak out, both in criticism and defense of the man in the middle of the maelstrom: President Obama.

Last week’s berating of America’s corporate chieftains by GE head Jeff Immelt amounted to a sort of defense of the president and his policies. Immelt, a key figure on Obama’s jobs council, told his fellow CEOs to stop whining about the economy and the dire employment situation and to create jobs within their companies.

And earlier this week, a group of CEOs were convened for an education roundtable (at top), evidently eager to meet with President Obama to help him figure out how industry-led partnerships can help improve the prospects for America’s youth — the foundation of all future job growth, of course.[more]

That roster included heads of heavyhitter brands at the forefront of technology and communications, such as Glenn Britt of Time Warner Cable, Randall Stephenson of AT&T, and former AOL head Steve Case.

But not even Immelt evinced the sort of passion that another CEO, Steve Wynn of Wynn Resorts, brought to his evaluation of the president’s economic performance this week. “This administration is the greatest wet blanket to business, and progress and job creation in my lifetime,” the hotelier stated, according to a transcript of his latest quarterly investor conference call.

“All of us in this marketplace [are] frightened to death about all the new regulations, our healthcare costs escalat[ing], regulations coming from left and right,” continued Wynn, a registered Democrat.

Meanwhile, long-time Obama supporter Warren Buffett, the investment Sage of Omaha, pushed back against the president’s demonization of corporate-jet owners, in an appearance on CNBC.

As the economy continues to fizzle again with the focus on the deficit, expect more CEOs to stick their necks out and take sides on the CEO-in-chief. Not even a federal-debt deal is likely to put a cap on that kind of rhetoric. Only an economic recovery will.