To borrow a Yiddish expression with roots in German, the CEO of General Electric is confused. Writing in the July 9 issue of the Financial Times, Jeffrey Immelt argues that the U.S. government should adopt “an industrial strategy built around helping companies to succeed with investment that will drive innovation and support high-technology manufacturing and exports.” Immelt seems to have forgotten that the U.S. government has already adopted that strategy: the stimulus bill provides more than 10 billion dollars in funding and loan guarantees for smart grid and green technology (among other things), of which GE undoubtedly will be the Number One beneficiary.
Not bothering to acknowledge that, Immelt proceeds to argue that the U.S. government should also subsidize companies like GE not just to make U.S. workers more competitive globally but also to make its workers in China, India and UK (to name the countries he happens to name) more competitive. In other words, the U.S. government should pay General Electric to undermine the fundamental objective of the stimulus bill and other economic legislation, which is to improve U.S. competitiveness vis-a-vis other countries, not reduce it.
Either Immelt is verschimmelt or, even by the standards of corporate barons, he has a lot of chutzpah.