President Barack Obama conferred today with eight company executives, including Ursula Burns, chief executive officer of Xerox Corp. (XRX) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) CEO William Weldon, on ways to boost the economy and create jobs.
Burns and Weldon were joined at the White House meeting by Kenneth Chenault, chairman of American Express Co. (AXP), Richard Davis, chairman and CEO of U.S. Bancorp, Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of Blackrock Inc. (BLK), Glenn Hutchins, co-CEO of Silver Lake Financial Management Co., John Stumpf, chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), and John Surma, chairman and CEO of United States Steel Corp. (X) The meeting latest a little more than an hour.
With 15 months before the presidential election, Obama is struggling to jump-start a weak economy and find ways to reduce the 9.1 percent unemployment rate. The economy expanded at a 1.3 percent annual rate in the second quarter of 2011, less than forecast, from a 0.4 percent pace in the first three months of the year, Commerce Department figures showed last month.
Obama is “on the hunt” for new ideas about ways to create jobs and will release proposals during the coming weeks, Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, said at a briefing earlier today.
Obama is urging Congress to pass three trade deals that may create as many as 70,000 new jobs, renew the payroll tax cut and an unemployment insurance program, and fund road and bridge construction.
“Over the coming weeks, I’m going to be putting out more proposals, week by week, that will help businesses hire and put people back to work,” Obama said in a speech yesterday at Johnson Controls Inc., in Holland, Michigan.
The president and the executives met privately in the Roosevelt Room and neither Obama nor the executives made public remarks afterward.
“The president firmly believes that every American who wants a job should have one, and businesses large and small must all be at the table as part of the collective solution,” a statement released by the administration said.
Obama has hosted more than two-dozen roundtables, lunches or dinners with business leaders since taking office in January 2009. The most recent was July 12 when he met with executives of United Parcel Service Inc., International Business Machines Corp., BNSF Railway Co. and Darden Restaurants Inc., among other companies.
Today’s group had a bipartisan cast. Burns and Fink contributed to Obama’s 2008 campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group that tracks political giving. Hutchins gave to the presidential campaigns of both Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Mitt Romney.
Davis gave to former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s current run for the Republican nomination, and to his leadership political action committee last year. Weldon backed 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, and gave $27,000 to the Republican National Committee that year. Surma contributed $5,000 to the House Republicans’ fundraising arm in 2010. Stumpf gave $10,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee earlier this year.
The president also plans to talk about the economy and solicit ideas from small-business owners and workers during a three-day bus trip through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois that begins Aug. 15.
U.S. retail sales climbed 0.5 percent in July, the most in four months, showing consumers were holding up at the start of the third quarter. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, which fell or rose at least 4.4 percent in the previous four sessions, climbed 0.7 percent to 1,181.18 at 1:24 p.m. in New York.
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