(CNSNews.com) – The chairman of the new President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness has presided over a corporation that has seen a steady
President Barack Obama named Jeffrey Immelt, chief executive officer of General Electric since 2001, as chairman of the jobs council last month. GE faced hefty fines from the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2009 and 2010.
According to GE’s own Web site, in 2005, GE employed 160,000
The jobs council met Thursday at the White House to discuss how to grow jobs in the
During the meeting, Immelt said the council is focused on job growth, and it will likely have future meetings outside of
“You’ve given us some things to focus on. What we’re going to try to look to is short and long-term growth. We’re going to really focus on jobs and competitiveness,” Immelt told the council members. “Maybe the next meeting can be out in the field.”
Obama told the council he believes they were off to a good start, but said that Americans will want to see progress before they are comfortable about the direction of the economy.
“Our focus has to be on jobs here in the
When announcing Immelt as chairman on Jan. 21, Obama said, “Jeff is somebody who brings a wealth of experience to the table. He is one of the nation’s most respected and admired business leaders, and that’s a reputation he earned over 10 years at the helm of this company.”
But Tom Borelli, director of the Free Enterprise Project at the
“You couldn’t find a worse CEO to put on a jobs and economics panel, in terms of jobs and ethics – two
A GE press spokesperson did not return phone or e-mail messages from CNSNews.com Thursday.
In 2009 and 2010, GE paid millions in SEC fines, but did not admit to any wrongdoing.
“Beginning in January 2003, an improper application of the accounting standards to GE's commercial paper funding program to avoid unfavorable disclosures and an estimated approximately $200 million pre-tax charge to earnings,” an
“A 2003 failure to correct a misapplication of financial accounting standards to certain GE interest-rate swaps. In 2002 and 2003, reported end-of-year sales of locomotives that had not yet occurred in order to accelerate more than $370 million in revenue. In 2002, an improper change to GE's accounting for sales of commercial aircraft engines' spare parts that increased GE's 2002 net earnings by $585 million,” it added.
In July 2010, the SEC slapped GE with a $23.4 million penalty for its involvement in the oil-for-food scandal. GE agreed to pay the fine, but again did not admit to any wrongdoing.
The U.N. Oil-for-Food program instituted in 1996 was designed to allow
The SEC took 15 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions against companies involved in the oil-for-food scandal, collecting $204 million in penalties, the agency said.
GE owned two of the subsidiaries involved in the scandal before the U.S.-Iraq war began in 2003, and acquired two other companies after Saddam’s regime was toppled.
“What kind of perception does that create if the president of the
Borelli said GE’s highest corporate interest is pushing renewable energy projects, and he expected Immelt would use this position to do that.
“GE has been screaming for a carbon tax,” Borelli said. “To do that would raise the cost of fossil fuels. That would not make
GE has invested heavily in green energy and lobbied heavily for legislation to regulate carbon emissions.
Obama suggested during the jobs council meeting that there should be more focus on building energy-efficient buildings as a way to make up for the construction jobs lost after the downturn in the housing market.
Immelt strongly agreed it should be a priority.
“We want to take on a few things that we can move the needle pretty quickly. I think this fits that bill,” Immelt told the president and other council members. “A lot of this stuff capitalizes today without any stimulus or anything like that. I just think it’s out there and we ought to be focused on things we can move the needle on.”