Feingold to Obama: Fire Immelt

Posted March 30, 2011 at 4:37pm

President Barack Obama is facing growing pressure from his left flank to oust the chairman of his job creation task force, Jeffrey Immelt.

Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) teamed up with MoveOn.org and Progressives United on Wednesday to launch a petition to pressure the General Electric CEO to step down from his post on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. If that doesn’t work, liberals want Obama to ask for his resignation.

“GE’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, is the wrong person to lead the President’s jobs council. Mr. Immelt must go,” Feingold wrote on Twitter.

Progressives were infuriated by news reports last week that GE won’t pay any taxes this year, despite profits of $14.2 billion worldwide, including more than $5 billion in the United States. At the same time, GE is asking 15,000 of its unionized workers to accept cutbacks to benefits — a fact that MoveOn.org is calling “a slap in the face” in its petition drive.

“One of the chief ways GE avoids paying taxes is by shifting a large portion of its profits overseas, and jobs follow. Now, GE’s CEO is the person charged with helping the president create jobs here in America. That’s just perverse,” the email reads.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney continued to defend Immelt’s role on the council during press briefings.

Asked last week whether Obama still has confidence in Immelt to lead the jobs panel amid the controversy, Carney simply replied, “Yes, he does.”

Pressed again on the issue Wednesday, Carney said Immelt is just one of several members on the council and reiterated Obama’s commitment to corporate tax reform.

“The whole point of the jobs council is to get outside advice … to generate ideas for the president to consider ways by which he can increase American competitiveness and create jobs,” he said.