Jeffrey Immelt, GE CEO: 'Our Employees Basically Like Us'


Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric CEO and President Barack Obama’s job czar, said he wants the American public to root for him and his company -- just like his employees do.

"I think this notion that it's the population of the U.S. against the big companies is just wrong. It's just wrong-minded and when I walk through a factory with you or anybody, you know, our employees basically like us," Immelt said in an interview with CBS News’s 60 Minutes. "They root for us, they want us to win. I don't know why you don't."

Immelt may be getting burned by the American public because, despite his title as the head of Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, his company has cut 19,000 jobs since 2009, according to ABC News. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate has been hovering above 9 percent for months and continues to barely keep pace with population growth.

Immelt also touted a policy on 60 minutes that would give multinational corporations a tax holiday for profits they make outside the U.S. and bring back, even though he admits it likely won’t create jobs, according to Think Progress. Immelt may be pushing for the tax holiday because his company is skilled at taking advantage of loopholes in the U.S. tax code. The company didn’t pay any American taxes in 2010, The New York Times reported.

After controversy over the claim erupted, a GE spokesmen said the company expects to have "a small U.S. income tax liability" for 2010, according to a report from Fortune magazine and ProPublica.

Immelt may also be in favor of the tax holiday because though he’s the head of America’s largest corporation, he told 60 minutes that he thinks “like a global CEO.” Still, Immelt’s council suggested earlier this week that the U.S. should launch a “national investment initiative” that would encourage corporations abroad and multinational corporations headquartered in the U.S. to create more American jobs. Atop the list sits improvements to the country's infrastructure.

Some of the council’s other recommendations include investing in infrastructure and energy development, and simplifying regulations to accelerate projects. But Immelt’s interests may be more aligned with those of his fellow business leaders than with Obama’s interest in creating jobs, according to The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein.

When asked at a CEO summit earlier this month how he’ll get Obama to listen to him, Immelt responded: “Our job is to make our ideas his ideas,” Klein reports.

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