The media is speculating this week about President Obama’s Dec. 15 White House summit on job creation with many of the nation’s top CEOs. Pundits are talking about how the administration can “improve” relations with companies over the next two years.
The Washington Post suggests that companies are already happy, in fact, with some of what the administration has put forward – tax cuts, increased “accountability” in the education system, and attempts to “grow” the economy.
That paper’s editorial leaves out the thing that gives the CEOs the most joy: Despite the continuing Great Recession and the longest-ever period of massive long-term unemployment, corporate profits during the last quarter were the biggest in U.S. history.
Not satisfied, however, with their ability to wallow in unprecedented wealth while the majority of Americans suffer, the CEOs are resisting administration plans to reform the tax code, cutting certain industry tax breaks.
Even more outrageous, however, is the fact that as they entered the White House for their summit with the president they were holding on their balance sheets $2 trillion in cash. Up to now they have chosen to keep that cash in their wallets rather than to use it to create jobs.
Their behavior gives the lie to those who claim that the bigger the profits for big business, the better off everyone will be.
President Obama has made it clear that he expects them to open their wallets and use some of that cash to create jobs.
Because of corporate foot-dragging on jobs we think a White House summit with representatives of the nation’s 26 million unemployed and underemployed workers is very much in order at this time.
During such a summit the unemployed would probably devise a recovery plan that would use much of that hoarded corporate cash to create jobs.
During such a summit the unemployed would probably insist that American companies come up with production plans that include domestic production – something not included in the CEOs’ current plans.
Such a summit would probably call for an end to any further tax breaks for corporations and the rich and for a financial transactions tax that could raise untold billions of dollars that could be used to create jobs.
Such a summit would probably clarify for the country the truth: the long range deficit will never come down unless many millions of jobs are created now. And we’d hedge our bets on the necessity of public investment on green jobs, including the greening of America’s infrastructure, and investing in public services. It’s going to take public investment — government investment — in getting a new economy going. Corporations have proven they cannot or will not do this.
The people at that summit would understand that it will take strong government action to create jobs because many companies that have pulled the plug on America have no interest in doing this. Their interest lies with maximizing their rate of profit, and it doesn’t matter at what expense to the environment, the country or people around the world.
The people at that summit will understand, as does the president, that even a modest 13 month extension of unemployment benefits creates more jobs per month than what companies have created since the beginning of the Great Recession. They will not buy into big business propaganda that cuts in Social Security and Medicare or rolling back health care reform are the direction in which we must go.
So how about it? Lets put a representative of the unemployed on the president’s economic team and then have a White House summit with the unemployed. They’re bound to come up with a robust recovery plan because their interests and the interests of the country they love depend upon it.