WRAPUP 4-Obama enlists Bill Clinton’s aid on economy

* Obama enlists help of Clinton to reach out to businesses

* Polls show public mood on economy is souring

* Business group accuses Obama of neglecting jobs
(New throughout with more details, start of Clinton meeting)

By Caren Bohan and Alister Bull

WASHINGTON, July 14 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. President Barack Obama
sought on Wednesday to lift sagging confidence in his economic
stewardship by enlisting the help of predecessor Bill Clinton,
as a leading business group issued a scathing critique of the
administration’s policies.

Clinton, who presided over the 1990s economic boom, joined
Obama at a closed-door White House meeting with business
leaders to encourage job creation and investment, including in
clean energy.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a top business group, issued
a rebuke of Obama’s economic agenda, accusing him and his
Democrats in Congress of neglecting job creation and hampering
growth with burdensome regulatory and tax policies.

Four months before the November congressional elections,
Republicans have tried to paint Obama and his Democrats as
anti-business.

Obama is increasingly turning to former President Clinton
to help win over voters and the business community.

Clinton, seen by many in corporate America as sympathetic,
has helped the White House by campaigning for Democratic
candidates running in November’s elections.

And Obama on Tuesday named former Clinton administration
veteran Jack Lew as the White House budget chief to help cut
the huge deficit.

In addition to the meeting he hosted with Clinton, Obama
also consulted investment guru Warren Buffett earlier in the
Oval Office as he gathered views on how to boost growth. He
ended up having to loan the billionaire a tie because Buffett’s
was frayed.

With unemployment stubbornly high, polls have reinforced
Democrats’ fears of big losses in November.

A survey by The Washington Post-ABC News showed 54 percent
of Americans disapproved of Obama’s leadership on the economy.
In a CBS News poll, only 40 percent of Americans said they
approved of Obama’s handling of the economy.

JOBS SAVED

To counter such perceptions, the administration trumpeted
an analysis from the White House Council of Economic Advisers
that said government funding of clean energy, economic
development, construction projects and other initiatives was
spurring “co-investment” by the private sector.
[ID:nN14180700]

The report, unveiled by CEA Chairwoman Christina Romer and
Vice President Joseph Biden, estimated that Obama’s $862
billion economic stimulus package had saved or created roughly
3 million jobs, and was on track to meet its goal of 3.5
million jobs by the end of this year.

Republicans ridiculed the report and said the job-creation
estimates seemed off-base in light of the 9.5 percent
unemployment rate.

“I will, in all honesty, nominate (the CEA report) as a
Pulitzer in fiction, which would be humorous but for 15 million
American workers who face the harsh reality of no jobs,”
Republican congressman Kevin Brady said at a Capitol Hill
hearing where CEA Chairwoman Christina Romer presented the
report.

House of Representatives Republican Leader John Boehner
called the estimates “fuzzy math.”

An open letter from the Chamber of Commerce gave Obama
credit for stabilizing the economy after a freefall.

But after that, Obama and the Democrats “took their eyes
off the ball,” the letter said.

“They neglected America’s number one priority — creating
the more than 20 million jobs we need over the next 10 years
for those who lost their jobs, have left the job market, or
were cut to part-time status — as well as new entrants into
our workforce,” the Chamber said.

Pushing back against the criticism, the White House said it
was “surprised and disappointed” by attacks on its policies
from some corners of the business world.

“The stakes are far too high for us to be working against
one another,” White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and top
Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett said in a letter to the Chamber.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said it was “ironic” the
Chamber was criticizing Obama’s policies towards business,
given corporate profits were up sharply in the United States.

“The Chamber has a different approach to certain issues but
we have different responsibilities,” he told reporters.

The Chamber released its letter to coincide with its “Jobs
for America” summit in Washington on Wednesday.

A White House request to have Jarrett address the event was
declined because the Chamber said the offer came too late.

BUSINESSES FEEL “UNLOVED”

The Chamber is far from the only business group to express
concern about the Obama administration’s policies.

Ivan Seidenberg, chairman of the Business Roundtable, said
last month there was a “disconnect” between Washington and the
business community. In a speech, Seidenberg, chief executive of
Verizon Communications (VZ.N: ), also urged the administration to
rethink its priorities.

High budget deficits are among the complaints business
groups have lodged against the Obama administration. A
healthcare overhaul, financial regulatory reform and proposals
to cap carbon emissions are cited by some corporate chieftains
as examples of regulatory overreach.

In an interview with Reuters, the chief executive of Loews
Corp (L.N: ) said the Obama administration is making businesses
feel “unloved” and reluctant to put money to work.[ID:nN14271530]

The tensions with the business community could prove
troublesome for Obama on more than just the political front.
U.S. businesses are holding onto a record $1.8 trillion in cash
that they are opting not to invest. The administration wants to
encourage them to use that money in hopes that greater
investment will help jump-start the economic recovery.

While defending its policies, the administration has made
clear it is listening to businesses’ concerns and even offered
an olive branch this week to the Business Roundtable.

In a letter to Seidenberg after meeting with him on June
30, Jarrett said the administration has an “an open door” for
businesses and is “always willing to consider input.”

(Additional reporting by Donna Smith, Steve Holland, Emily
Kaiser and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Alistair Bell and Eric
Beech)

WRAPUP 4-Obama enlists Bill Clinton’s aid on economy