Human Events Blog

Romney wins endorsement from a member of Obama’s “jobs council”

It’s no surprise that Mitt Romney’s vastly superior private sector experience has won him plenty of endorsements from the business community, but one rather surprising declaration of support has come from Intel’s chief executive officer, Paul Otellini… who happens to sit on President Barack Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.  You know, the guys Obama made a great show of appointing, then resolutely ignored.  No, not the Simpson-Bowles deficit cutting commission.  The other blue-ribbon panel Obama assembled with great fanfare, then treated with the same careful attention he gave to pre-September 11 national security briefings.

The Wall Street Journal more politely describes Otellini’s relationship with Obama as “hot-and-cold since Mr. Obama took office:”

In 2010, he criticized the administration for failing to generate more robust job growth. He was particularly critical of the stimulus. But the Intel CEO joined the president’s so-called jobs council to much fanfare the following year as Mr. Obama embarked on a very public – if short-lived – courtship of big business.

The president lauded Intel for investing in the U.S. during a trip last year to one of the chipmaker’s advanced manufacturing facilities in Oregon. During the visit, Mr. Otellini announced plans to build a $5 billion production facility in Arizona that would employ thousands of workers in the U.S. The Intel chief also made two high-profile trips to the White House, including a state dinner with Chinese President Hu Jintao. But the jobs council has not held an official meeting since January – a fact Republicans like to highlight.

That’s the “cold” part, but frankly I don’t see a lot of “hot” in there, beyond Otellini agreeing to sit on a “jobs council” that he didn’t realize would be entirely symbolic.  He’s in favor of “lowering corporate tax rates and scrapping some tax loopholes,” which the Journal somewhat confusing describes as “a priority shared by Messrs. Obama Romney,” even though it most certainly is not shared by Barack Obama.  Obama thinks lowering tax rates and scrapping loopholes is literally impossible, without increasing the deficit even more than he already has.  People who consider tax reduction and simplification a priority are wild-eyed right-wing millionaire-hugging extremists to him.  Obamanomics holds that jobs are created by pumping taxpayer money into solar-panel companies until they explode in a cloud of bankruptcy, and hiring even more of the unionized teachers who are so inadequate that we also have to spend billions of dollars on “job training.”

Otellini is a relatively uncommon Republican-leaning Silicon Valley executive who donated money to John McCain.  The Journal is soft-pedaling his “criticism of the administration for failing to generate job growth” a bit.  It would be more accurate to say that he thought Obama’s policies were killing job growth, and he came pretty close to using the same “road to Greece” language Mitt Romney has been using on the stump, as noted in a C/Net report from August 2010:

Otellini’s remarks during dinner at the Technology Policy Institute’s Aspen Forum here amounted to a warning to the administration officials and assorted Capitol Hill aides in the audience: unless government policies are altered, he predicted, “the next big thing will not be invented here. Jobs will not be created here.”

The U.S. legal environment has become so hostile to business, Otellini said, that there is likely to be “an inevitable erosion and shift of wealth, much like we’re seeing today in Europe–this is the bitter truth.”

Not long ago, Otellini said, “our research centers were without peer. No country was more attractive for start-up capital…We seemed a generation ahead of the rest of the world in information technology. That simply is no longer the case.”

Oh, wait, it gets even better.

Otellini singled out the political state of affairs in Democrat-dominated Washington, saying: “I think this group does not understand what it takes to create jobs. And I think they’re flummoxed by their experiment in Keynesian economics not working.”

Since an unusually sharp downturn accelerated in late 2008, the Obama administration and its allies in the U.S. Congress have enacted trillions in deficit spending they say will create an economic stimulus but have not extended the Bush tax cuts and have pushed to levy extensive new health care and carbon regulations on businesses.

“They’re in a ‘Do’ loop right now trying to figure out what the answer is,” Otellini said.

As a result, he said, “every business in America has a list of more variables than I’ve ever seen in my career.” If variables like capital gains taxes and the R&D tax credit are resolved correctly, jobs will stay here, but if politicians make decisions “the wrong way, people will not invest in the United States. They’ll invest elsewhere.”

He also explained that it costs him $1 billion more to build semiconductor factories in the United States, and 90 percent of it is due to taxes and regulations.  On the other hand, “if our tax rate approached that of the rest of the world, corporations would have an incentive to invest here.”  Odds of Otellini becoming Obama’s new “Secretary of Business“: slim.

Maybe he thought he could do some good by sitting on Obama’s Muppet-show of a “jobs council,” but it’s not surprising that Otellini would favor the presidential candidate who eagerly embraces kind of advice he knew perfectly well a high-taxing, central planning, hyper-regulatory Democrat was never going to heed.

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