Obama seeks to make up with big business

© AFP/Saul Loeb

AFP/Activist Post

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama is expected to seek the support of the US business community for his economic agenda Monday, but is expected to call on American employers to do their share to help revive the labor market.

Obama hinted at the tenor of his speech in a weekend radio address, saying he would stress the need for big business to invest more in the United States, and that if government and businesses fulfill mutual obligations then all Americans would benefit.

Obama was due to address the US Chamber of Commerce at 11:30 am (1630 GMT). While the chamber — Washington’s most powerful business lobby — is just a stone’s throw from the White House, it has remained at odds with the administration over economic policies.

The president, wounded in November elections which saw a wave of anti-Washington anger sweep Republicans to power in the House of Representatives, has sought to reach out to the business sector.

He has reversed his position on the Bush-era tax cuts and, faced with unemployment levels that remain at a stubbornly high nine percent, has placed business-savvy staff in key positions.

Last year, the chamber opposed Obama’s health care reform, his drive to change Wall Street practices as well as other legislative initiatives. The group also gave millions of dollars in campaign donations to Republican candidates.

The White House publicly responded by accusing the chamber of funneling money from overseas to US political candidates.

Last month the powerful lobby, which claims to represent three million businesses, offered qualified backing for key legislative fights ahead but warned it would not walk in “lock-step” with Obama in the second half of his four-year term.

After two years of spats with the White House, the chamber said it would support Obama-backed moves to secure trade deals, tax reform, more infrastructure spending and debt reduction.

Obama’s Monday address is expected to build on his State of the Union speech last month, in which he highlighted the need to revitalize US business, create jobs and invest in world-class infrastructure in order to boost American competitiveness.

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