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Obama Tries To Mend Relationship With Business

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Obama Tries To Mend Relationship With Business

Business

Obama Tries To Mend Relationship With Business

Obama Tries To Mend Relationship With Business

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President Obama told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Monday that it was time for business leaders to get in the game by converting big cash holdings into expansion and job creation.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

President Obama has had a rocky relationship with the business community since taking office. Hoping to find common ground on deficit spending or deficit cutting, taxes and trade, Mr. Obama reached out yesterday to the business lobby.

NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson reports on how it went.

MARA LIASSON: The trip from the White House to the Chamber of Commerce was a short one, geographically, but a long one ideologically. After walking across Lafayette Park to the Chamber Building, the president said he was just being neighborly.

BARACK OBAMA: Look, maybe if we if we had brought over a fruitcake when I first moved in, we would have gotten off to a better start.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: But I'm going to make up for it.

LIASSON: And he tried, with a series of business friendly gestures on corporate taxes, trade and federal spending. But he also delivered a tougher message to the chamber.

OBAMA: If we're fighting to reform the tax code and increase exports to help you compete, the benefits can't just translate into greater profits and bonuses for those at the top. They have to be shared by American workers, who need to know that expanding trade and opening markets will lift their standards of living, as well as your bottom-line.

LIASSON: The president got a polite response, restrained applause, but a lot of stony silence.

For Wayne Gatewood, the CEO of Quality Support Inc., the jury is still out.

WAYNE GATEWOOD: Words are cheap. Now show me the beef. Let's see how this comes out. Let's see how this really comes out with regulatory reform, with, you know, with tax reform for small businesses. Let's see what really comes about.

LIASSON: President Obama can probably count on business support for his plans to spend more money on infrastructure and to increase trade. But he'll continue to clash with the Chamber on healthcare and regulation.

Mara Liasson, NPR News, the White House.

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