According to a report by Bloomberg, at a recent panel discussion in Nantucket Jack Welch (Former CEO of GE), Lou Gerstner (Former CEO of IBM), and Bob Wright (Former Chief of NBC Universal) gathered with “Meet The Press” Host David Gregory to discuss America’s economic situation. The topics discussed ranged from populist anger towards Wall Street, to President Obama and tax policy.
When asked about the public outrage at Wall Street that has crossed ideological boundaries, former CEO of GE Jack Welch first answered by rhetorically asking “Do you think the guy leading the country could have a more balanced approach to the recklessness of some hothead businessman, rather than demonize him?” A clear attack on the way he feels President Barack Obama has dealt with corporate leaders since the financial meltdown.
Once Mr. Welch got a shot in on the President, he then said that while some of the outrage was justifiable, it is the job of the President to bring Washington and business leaders together to help mend this dreadful economic situation. The work-with-Washington message that Mr. Welch expressed was echoed by the other two a few times throughout the night. While they all seemed to be somewhat unhappy with President Obama and his methods, they did not seem inclined to preach massive reductions in government intervention. Toward the end of the night, the former CEOs even agreed that “a good place to start would be to raise taxes on the wealthy as part of a tax and spending plan to achieve fiscal responsibility.”
While there are many people who will agree with some of the opinions expressed by the three corporate leaders, some of the ideas expressed seemed peculiar. There are plenty of people who wanted the stimulus in the wake of the 2008 market crash, and many who feel that government spending should remain high until the economy can support austerity. There are many fewer people, however, who believe that the solution to the perpetually growing government, and an ever-expanding corporate influence is for the two to work together.
The people want an effective government that creates fiscal policy that best helps fuel growth, and they want a strong private sector, but just as anger at Wall Street has crossed ideological lines, so has the fear of big government working in cahoots with big corporations. The government is the entity which is supposed to oversee and regulate businesses, and if the government is seen as being in bed with these corporate interests conservatives call it crony capitalism, and liberals call it oligarchy.