What the CEOs are saying about US jobs

Image representing Intel as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

Everyone keeps asking: When will America's businesses start expanding and hiring again? Funny thing is, no one listens when they tell us.

It may not have gotten a lot of press, but we found the comments of Intel CEO Paul Otellini this week at the Technology Policy Institute's Aspen Forum quite enlightening.

At a time when many CEOs are hunkered down and holding back, Otellini let go with both barrels, warning Americans, who have become used to being the center of the innovation universe, to lower their expectations.

Unless government policies change, and fast, he said, "the next big thing will not be invented here. Jobs will not be created here."

That's pretty tough stuff. But Otellini was just getting warmed up.

As CNET news reports, Otellini said that at one time "no country was more attractive for startup capital ... We seemed a generation ahead of the rest of the world in information technology. That is simply no longer the case."

The Intel chief was harsh on the massive spending by the White House and Congress — and on the failure to extend the Bush tax cuts, the takeover of the health care industry, and the threat of new taxes on businesses to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

"I think this group does not understand what it takes to create jobs," he said. "And I think they're flummoxed by their experiment in Keynesian economics not working."

If America's ruling class keeps going down this road, "people will not invest in the United States. They'll invest elsewhere."

Intel, the world's leader in semiconductor technology with $35 billion in sales and nearly 80,000 employees, is a good example.

"I can tell you definitively that it costs $1 billion more per factory for me to build, equip and operate a semiconductor manufacturing facility in the U.S.," he said. And 90% of that added cost, he said, is due to taxes and regulations that other countries don't have.

Otellini isn't alone in his frustration.

Earlier in the week, Illinois Tool Works CEO David Speer, whose company employs 60,000 worldwide, laid out his dilemma — and that of hundreds of other CEOs: "I could borrow $2 billion tomorrow for 3 1/2%," Speer said. "But what am I going to do with it?"

The Obama administration just does not comprehend business decisions. They are not the same as community organizer decisions, nor are they the same as legislative decisions. Business requires a return on investment to survive. They need profits to grow and prosper. When you have an administration that is hostile to investments and to profits you are not going to get much of either.
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