Business Groups Step Up Criticism Of Obama The president has been under fire from some of the biggest business lobbies, who say his policies and rhetoric have undermined growth. Now, the administration is making a new attempt to reach out to business leaders -- telling them it's ready to listen to suggestions about how to revive the economy.
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Business Groups Step Up Criticism Of Obama

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Business Groups Step Up Criticism Of Obama

Business Groups Step Up Criticism Of Obama

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ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, the president has been under fire from some of the biggest business lobbies who say his policies and rhetoric have undermined growth.

JIM ZARROLI: But 19 months later, that support has weakened, says Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of the Yale School of Management.

JEFFREY SONNENFELD: The relationship has been deteriorating both in public and the public face and backstage.

ZARROLI: Part of the resentment business leaders feel have to do with rhetoric. Political pundits have faulted the president for not showing more anger toward companies like BP and Goldman Sachs. But as business groups like the Chamber of Commerce see it, the president's tone has often betrayed an animosity toward business - as in this attack on the Bush administration's regulatory policies.

BARACK OBAMA: And if you're a Wall Street bank or an insurance company or an oil company, you pretty much get to play by your own rules, regardless of the consequences for everybody else.

ZARROLI: Stan Anderson is with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

STAN ANDERSON: Now, we're looking at this tsunami of new regulations that are going to be emanating from the administration over the next period of months and years.

ZARROLI: U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke notes that the president has been a strong advocate of export growth, and he rejects the notion that President Obama is anti-business.

GARY LOCKE: He has repeatedly said to the business leaders and to the members of the Cabinet that we want American businesses to succeed because they are the source of the private-sector jobs. And if the business community succeeds and hires people, then America succeeds.

ZARROLI: Locke says the administration is ready to listen to business leaders' ideas about reviving the economy, though some, like a cut in corporate taxes, are probably off the table.

LOCKE: We can't, on the one hand, simply just lower taxes because the business community is also very concerned about the rising deficits.

ZARROLI: One thing he can do, Sonnenfeld says, is bring more people from the business world into his inner circle.

SONNENFELD: This administration has been surrounded by lawyers, economists and policy analysts, not people who have actually been general managers.

ZARROLI: Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

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