(Writer's note: The arrangement with the syndicators allows these columns to appear in this space a week after their newspaper release)
^OBAMA REACHES OUT TO OTHER CEOS@<
^(For use by New York Times News Service clients)@<
^By BOB FRANKEN@=
^C.2011 Hearst Newspapers@=
WASHINGTON _ So everyone came out of Wednesday's White House lunch President Obama threw for congressional leaders with House Majority Whip Eric Cantor saying they all had a ``robust conversation’’ and all promising that the two sides would try and ``work together.’’
The lunch was just a few days after Obama decided to olive-branch out with a speech in enemy territory at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In that supplication, he displayed his bad habit of not finishing his sentences when he told the assembled business leaders that he planned to ``run the government a little like you run your businesses.’’ He should have, for accuracy's sake added, ``Into the ground.’’
After all, it wasn't the government that caused the economy to tank, it was the greedy carelessness by many of those in big business, in other words, those whose interests are represented in Washington by the Chamber of Commerce.
As we have heard ad nauseum, the group's headquarters are walking distance from the White House center of power, although there is some question which is the real power center.
Whichever, Obama was trying to cozy up to a crowd filled with those who would love to see him evicted by the voters next year. The organization has already spent millions upon millions to throw out Obama's fellow Democrats; he apparently has decided that his best chance of survival is to huddle with the hostile.
It wasn't full grovel by any means. Although the chief executive has already promised to weed out onerous and unnecessary regulation, he wasn't promising executives the entire Rose Garden.
``Not every regulation is bad,’’ he insisted. ``The perils of too much regulation are matched by the dangers of too little.’’
The question always is what does ``too much’’ mean? To many of the bottom-line obsessed in his audience, the answer is ``any.’’ As for what constitutes ``too little’’ regulation, they would argue there is no such thing.
That certainly is the overwhelming opinion of the special interest groups that jumped at the invitation from their new Republican champion, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to tell him which rules they would change.
Get rid of all or most, was the overwhelming response _ they're ``job killing.’’ Anything their side doesn't like is ``job-killing.’’
Ah, yes, ``job killing.’’ That’s a killer GOP catch phrase, though the Republican leadership has tried to blunt the harshness in the aftermath of the Jan. 8 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., by substituting ``job stunting,’’ ``job eliminating’’ and other softer renditions.
Never mind that it wasn't too much regulation that gently doused all those jobs when the world economy caved. It was far too little, which allowed and continues to allow malefactors to take away everyone else's wealth and channel it to their own mega salaries and bonuses.
The chutzpah award would probably go the titans of the Business Roundtable _ a cozy group of corporate big-wigs _ who argued in their letter to Issa that a rule that makes corporations compare their chief executive's pay to that of the typical employee ``could potentially cause companies to take actions that result in less employment, such as outsourcing, to produce better ratios.’’
Are they saying that if they don't get to keep their compensation secret, they may abandon the United States? How patriotic is that? But then, what are we to think of the fact that, as Obama said in his speech to the chamber, ``American companies have nearly $2 trillion sitting on their balance sheets.’’ Shouldn't they, he continued, ``get in the game’’?
Which game are we talking about? Right now it's the ``let's-work together’’ game, but if many business leaders and their political servants have their way, the sport will be played with no rules, just like the political one.
As for lunch, the ultimate question is: ``Who will be eating whose?’’
(E-mail: bob(at)hearstdc.com; On the Web: www.bobfranken.tv)