WASHINGTON - As the White House sought help Wednesday from former President Bill Clinton in its efforts to create jobs, one of the nation's most influential business groups accused President Barack Obama of neglecting job creation and sowing economic uncertainty with burdensome tax and regulatory policies.
Clinton was to join Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the White House for a meeting with business leaders. The White House said the meeting would focus on new ways to create jobs in the private sector and increase investments in the clean energy industry.
Clinton was to discuss a project run by the Clinton Global Initiative that retrofits and weatherizes large buildings, including the Empire State Building, to make them more energy efficient. The program also trains workers to gain the skills needed for the projects.
Chief executives from Bank of America and Honeywell were among those scheduled to attend the meeting.
But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - in a letter in advance of a "Jobs for America" summit it is hosting - urged Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress to shift their approach to "unlock frozen capital and jolt our economy back to life."
The letter adds to growing criticism the Obama administration has faced lately from the business sector. Republicans have pounced on the criticisms to try to paint Obama as "anti-business."
The chamber gave Obama credit for stabilizing the economy and heading off another Great Depression.
"But once accomplished, the congressional leadership and the administration took their eyes off the ball," the letter said. "They neglected America's number one priority - creating the more than 20 million jobs we need over the next 10 years for those who lost their jobs, have left the job market, or were cut to part-time status - as well as new entrants into our workforce."
In addition, business groups oppose Obama's plans to allow President George W. Bush's tax cuts on higher-income Americans to expire at the end of this year, and have also criticized the president's fiscal policies, warning of the danger of high deficits.
Some in corporate America have cited health care reform legislation and proposals to cap carbon emissions as examples of regulatory overreach.
A rift with the business community could pose political and other problems for Obama.
U.S. businesses are holding on to some $1.8 trillion in cash. The Obama administration wants to encourage them to invest some of that money to help jump-start the economic recovery.
Combined news services