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President Meets with Business Roundtable, Hopes for Influence

by Christopher Davis-Garland, published
Photo: Charles Dharapak

On Wednesday President Obama met with the Business Roundtable to cover his plan to balance the budget and hear business leaders' concerns over the debt ceiling.

"Most of you were involved in discussions and watched the catastrophe that happened in August of 2011," said President Obama, "And we can't afford to go there again...So I want to send a very clear message to people here:  We are not going to play that game next year."

The President also made it clear that cuts are not the only answer when trying to balance the budget, but he did mention "smart" cuts and long-term entitlement reform. President Obama went on to reiterate his plan of continuing the Bush tax cuts for most Americans and establishing higher rates for the top 2 percent. He made clear, however, that the hike in rates for the wealthy would not in any way "affect your spending, your lifestyles, or the economy in any significant way."

The members of the Business Roundtable are CEOs of the top companies in the United States. Its members account for almost a third of US stock market and employ 16 million people. The current executive committee consist of names like Kenneth I. Chenault of American Express Company, Michael T. Duke of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Ursula M. Burns of Xerox Corporation. Business Roundtable holds obvious influence over the economy and because of this the association has been holding talks with the President and Congressional members this week.

“Our member CEOs thank President Obama for the generous commitment of his time and for delivering on our expectations for a candid and constructive conversation,” said Jim McNerney, Chairman of Business Roundtable, and Chairman, President, and CEO of the Boeing Company. “We also appreciate the dialogue with members of Congress, which was also constructive.”

Details of exactly what was discussed between President Obama and the Business Roundtable are unknown as the press was asked to leave after opening statements from the president. If President Obama can convince the Business Roundtable of the plan he and Democrats campaigned on, that could potentially lead to political leverage in negations to advert the fiscal cliff. However, the Business Roundtable has been adamant in the past that the Bush tax cuts be extended for everyone, including the top 2 percent.

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