Obama courts U.S. business to spur hiring

By Associated Press
Posted Dec. 15, 2010 at 9:02 a.m.

President Barack Obama, trying to reset strained relations with the corporate world, said Wednesday he would pick the brains of America’s top business executives to help boost tepid U.S. growth and slow hiring.

“This morning I hope to elicit ideas from these business leaders that will help us not only climb out of recession but seize the promise of this moment,” Obama said in a statement.

Obama is meeting 20 top business leaders, including James McNerney, chief executive of Boeing Co., and John Chambers, chief executive of Cisco Systems Inc, to encourage them to ramp up hiring amid strong corporate profits.

Obama said he wanted ideas on tax reform, a “balanced approach to regulation” and “ideas that will help businesses to invest in America and American jobs, at a time when they are holding nearly $2 trillion on their books.”

The president has had his ups and downs with the business community, notably over healthcare and Wall Street reforms, but he has generally pleased corporate critics with a plan to extend Bush-era tax cuts that is expected to win backing from U.S. lawmakers.

The measures, thrashed out by the White House with Republicans despite the misgivings of Democrats over tax breaks for wealthier Americans, are seen as boosting U.S. output by 1 percentage point next year if adopted.

U.S. growth has resumed after the worst recession since the 1930s, but unemployment remains painfully high at 9.8 percent and the Obama administration wants companies who are sitting on fat cash piles to invest and expand their U.S. workforces.

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