President Obama extended an olive branch to business leaders Wednesday, seeking their support as he prepared to negotiate with Congressional Republicans over the fiscal impasse in Washington.
If Congress and the president cannot reach a deal to reduce the deficit by January, more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts will go into effect immediately - a prospect many chief executives and others warn could tip the economy back into recession.
Even so, Obama has some fence-mending to do before he can count on any serious backing from the business community.
"The president brought up that he hadn't always had the best relationship with business, and he didn't think he deserved that, but he understood that's where things were and wanted it to be better," said David M Cote, chief executive of Honeywell.
He was one of a dozen corporate leaders invited to meet Obama at the White House for 90 minutes Wednesday afternoon, after the president's first news conference since the election.
While Obama did not present a detailed plan at Wednesday's meeting or reveal what he would propose in terms of new corporate taxes, he strongly reiterated that he would not allow tax cuts for the middle class to expire.
The president, according to attendees and aides, said he was committed to a balanced approach of reductions in entitlements and other government spending and increases in revenue.Many people expect the president and Republican leaders in Congress to come up with a short-term compromise to prevent the full slate of tax increases and spending cuts from hitting in January.
The New York Times