- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2009

UPDATED:

President Obama held a “very sober meeting” about the economy with 10 of the nation’s business leaders at the White House Wednesday as the House debated his proposed $825 billion economic stimulus package.

“They understand when it comes to rebuilding our economy, we don’t have a moment to spare,” Mr. Obama said of the chief executive officers attending the meeting. “They are looking for action from Washington, bold and swift.”

Mr. Obama characterized them as being “on the frontline of people who are seeing enormous problems in the economy right now” and said the economic difficulties were a reason for Congress to “act now” on his stimulus plan.

Among the chief executives were Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO of Google; Sam Palmisano, chairman, CEO and president of IBM; Debra Lee, president and CEO of BET Holdings, Inc.; David M. Cote, chairman and CEO of Honeywell; and Anne Mulcahy, chair and CEO of Xerox.

Despite the worsening recession and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs just this week, Mr. Obama said, “We can turn this economy around. Each of us is going to have to do our share.”

He said it was up to the private sector, not the government, to hire people even though his stimulus package calls for the creation of 3 million to 4 million jobs.

“It was a very sober meeting,” Mr. Obama said of his session with the business leaders.