Jeffrey Immelt is the guy who Bernie Sanders was talking about in the famous "China China China China China, five Chinas" part of his "filibuster" speech last month. Immelt has enthusiastically described himself as "a nut on China."
President Obama just hired Immelt to chair the new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which is the new name for the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, chaired by Paul Volcker, Volcker being not exactly progressive but still one of the very few in the White House economic circle who was trusted by progressive leaning folk, IMHO, and who is now, of course, out the door.
Immelt is also the CEO and Chairman of GE, and a protoge of the Morning Joe darling, Jack Welch. The company's stock has lost "58% of its value since he took over, while the S&P 500 fell 22%."
Is this a pattern? Larry Summers was awarded with a top economic job in the White House after he lost billions of Harvard's money and was a person who didn't make unemployment a top priority.
Oh, and by the way, Immelt isn't quitting his job. He will remain in his job at GE while serving. Yes, you heard that right. He isn't quitting his job at GE.
So, this man has been hired to focus on Jobs Jobs Jobs.
But what do we know about his own track record on jobs?
Aside from the tired DC trick of renaming the Council with the latest buzzwords — jobs and competitiveness — there’s all the things GE has done under Immelt that make the U.S. less competitive. I noted the other day that GE had signed a big deal with China that will involve us sharing our jet technology with China, which will ultimately help China compete with both GE and — China has said explicitly — Boeing. Then there’s the fact that, even as Immelt has been calling for manufacturing in the U.S., his company has been shutting U.S. plants to move the work to China.
While Immelt was calling for manufacturing to stay in the U.S., his company was at the same time shipping manufacturing jobs overseas by canceling an order with an American-based wind turbine maker, ATI Casting Service in LaPorte, Ind., so that GE could instead buy the parts from a factory in China.
Recently, ATI made $30 million worth of investments to buy, convert, and modernize a shuttered factory in economically ravaged Michigan so the company could provide more parts to GE as the green economy expands with federal stimulus funding. But a Chinese firm underbid ATI, and the factory faced having to lay off 302 union workers and shutter the plant.
In an aggressive bid to keep the factory open, ATI offered to match the price of the Chinese producers. GE once again said they would prefer to buy from China. The ATI plant is now closed, the jobs gone.
What else do we know?
Immelt has now begun to talk a good game about keeping jobs in the US, after having been a champion on outsourcing. What does Leo Gerard, president of the United Steel Workers, think?
Gerard has accused Immelt of being a hypocrite, not just for undermining ATI, but for doing so while raking in millions of dollars in federal stimulus money intended to support a "Buy America" strategy.
Let's watch that excerpt of Bernie Sanders' speech again.
(1:58 min, transcript below)
"When I am talking to GE managers, I talk China, China, China, China, China. [Five Chinas] You need to be there. You need to change the way people talk about it and how they get there. I am a nut on China. Outsourcing from China is going to grow to 5 billion. We are building a tech center in China. Every discussion today has to center on China. The cost basis is extremely attractive. You can take an 18 cubic foot refrigerator, make it in China, land it in the United States, and land it for less than we can make an 18 cubic foot refrigerator ourselves."
End of quote. Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman, CEO of General Electric, quoted in an investor meeting, on December 6, 2002.
Gee! When GE had, a couple of years ago, some really difficult economic times, they needed $16 billion to bail them out, I didn’t hear Mr. Immelt going to China, China, China, China, China. I didn’t hear that. I heard Mr. Immelt going to the taxpayers of the United States for his welfare check. So I say to Mr. Immelt, and I say to all these CEOs that have been so quick to run to China, that maybe it’s time to start reinvesting in the United States of the America."
No wonder Presidents Obama and Clinton panicked as they were having their Oval Office powwow, went to Gibbs office and got his aide to open the locked press room door, bypassing Gibbs, said they were looking for reporters, did their jaw dropping two-President two-step press conference with no notice, and let Clinton remain at the podium while Obama excused himself to go to a Christmas party, all while Bernie was doing his filibuster.
Let the Obama 2012 two-year, billion dollar campaign begin. Maybe CNBC's Rick Santelli will be nicer to Obama now. Or not. Maybe BigBiz, out of the kindness of their hearts, will stop outsourcing the jobs now, while no one changes the incentives to do so. Or not.
In the words of Truman:
"Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time"
UPDATE 1, 1pm
A sampling of reactions, and other things:
Fox News likes it:
Immelt Appointment Continues to Improve White House-Chamber Relationship
Microsoft likes it (and Ballmer takes the opportunity to get a jab in at Google while he's at it):
Steve Ballmer Comments on Obama's Appointment of GE CEO Immelt to Jobs Council
"Jeff Immelt and I started our careers together at Proctor & Gamble, and I have enormous respect for the success he’s had at GE. He is an ideal business leader to chair the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and help drive a focus on what we can all do to increase American competitiveness and create new jobs."
Forbes says the White House is going into reelection mode:
White House Moves Into Re-Election Mode With Jobs Panel
The creation of the new group is meant to illustrate that job creation is the number one domestic priority for the Obama adminstration. Friday afternoon, the president will tour a GE facility in Schenectady, N.Y. with Immelt. In remarks scheduled for 1:00 p.m., Obama is expected to talk more about the panel.
It’s also a sign that the White House is moving into re-election mode.
I say that's a really funny way to demonstrate that job creation is the number one domestic priority.
Jamie Dimon likes it:
"We fully support President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which will bring together the best ideas from business, government and labor to help strengthen the U.S. economy and get more people back to work," Dimon said in a statement.
Oops, maybe Fox doesn't like it (or the left Fox hand doesn't know what the right Fox hand is doing):
Here's Varney kicking off the baseless accusations that Obama "paid off" Immelt for what Varney claimed was Immelt's "dutiful services running NBC for the Democrats"...
Here's the link to the White House announcement:
Announcing a New Council on Jobs and Competitiveness
UPDATE 2, 6:30pm
Valuable information from the comments:
jamess did a diary on this subject that is well worth reading:
The New US-China "Joint Venture" leveling the field for Who?
(H/T to jamess http://www.dailykos.com/... )
Immeldt is a big GOP donor:
(H/T to slinkerwink http://www.dailykos.com/... )
Here's what Immelt was saying in 2009:
In a speech to the Detroit Economic Club in 2009, Immelt berated "Buy American" policies while acknowledging that GE lived under domestic preference regimes in China, France, and other nations. In Immelt’s mind, it is fine for China and France to require to GE to make what it sells in their nations, but it’s not OK for America to do the same.
(H/T to ColdBlueSteel http://www.dailykos.com/... )
Some more info on Immelt's mentor, "Neutron Jack":
Each year, Welch would fire the bottom 10% of his managers. He earned a reputation for brutal candor in his meetings with executives. He would push his managers to perform, but he would reward those in the top 20% with bonuses and stock options. He also expanded the broadness of the stock options program at GE from just top executives to nearly one third of all employees. Welch is also known for destroying the nine-layer management hierarchy and bringing a sense of informality to the company.
During the early 1980s he was dubbed "Neutron Jack" (in reference to the neutron bomb) for eliminating employees while leaving buildings intact. In Jack: Straight From The Gut, Welch states that GE had 411,000 employees at the end of 1980, and 299,000 at the end of 1985. Of the 112,000 who left the payroll, 37,000 were in sold businesses, and 81,000 were reduced in continuing businesses. In return, GE had increased its market capital tremendously.
(H/T to drewfromct http://www.dailykos.com/... )
Two excerpts about the transfer of technology:
G.E., in the partnership with a state-owned Chinese company, will be sharing its most sophisticated airplane electronics, including some of the same technology used in Boeing’s new state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliner.
The other risk is that Western technologies could help China play catch-up in military aviation — a concern underscored last week when the Chinese military demonstrated a prototype of its version of the Pentagon’s stealth fighter, even though the plane could be a decade away from production.
Nearly all the components that Gamesa assembles into million-dollar turbines here, for example, are made by local suppliers — companies Gamesa trained to meet onerous local content requirements. And these same suppliers undermine Gamesa by selling parts to its Chinese competitors — wind turbine makers that barely existed in 2005, when Gamesa controlled more than a third of the Chinese market.
But in the five years since, the upstarts have grabbed more than 85 percent of the wind turbine market, aided by low-interest loans and cheap land from the government, as well as preferential contracts from the state-owned power companies that are the main buyers of the equipment. Gamesa’s market share now is only 3 percent.
With their government-bestowed blessings, Chinese companies have flourished and now control almost half of the $45 billion global market for wind turbines. The biggest of those players are now taking aim at foreign markets, particularly the United States, where General Electric has long been the leader.
(H/T to PatriciaVA http://www.dailykos.com/... )
* * * * *