Jeffrey Immelt

President Obama has made Bain Capital's brand of cold, bottom-line capitalism a focus of the campaign against Mitt Romney. But does Obama have any standing to criticize Bain's practices? David Brooks, writing in the New York Times today, doesn't think so: Over the years of his presidency, Obama has not been a critic of globalization. There’s no real evidence that, when he’s off the campaign trail, he has any problem with outsourcing and offshoring. He has lavishly praised people like Steve Jobs who were prominent practitioners.

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I’ll admit it: I was worried when the president named Bill Daley as his second chief of staff. True, Daley was a loyal Democrat long before he was a bank executive. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that the White House was giving in to months of mau-mauing from the business community. That was distressing not just because the idea of Obama as anti-business is wrong, but also because Obama had a lot more leverage over the business community than he seemed to realize.    Not quite three weeks later and I feel confident this is not the case.

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A couple of weeks ago, Jeffrey Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric, complained indignantly about China’s current and bitter hostility toward multinational corporations. According to the Financial Times, Immelt groused at a private dinner in Rome that the Chinese government was becoming ever more protectionist. “I am not sure that in the end, they want any of us to win, or any of us to be successful,” he said. Immelt’s remarks point to a noteworthy shift in the dynamic that moves American policy toward China, one tinged with irony.

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Xi'an, China—In the United States, climate-policy advocates often hold up China as a boogeyman of sorts. Last fall, Jeffrey Immelt and John Doerr penned a Washington Post op-ed lamenting the fact that the United States is "clearly not in the lead today" on clean energy. "That position is held by China." Tom Friedman has gone even further, making analogies to America's space race with the USSR.

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A recurring source of anxiety among op-ed writers lately is the fear that China is winning some sort of clean-energy race. Earlier this month, venture capitalist John Doerr and GE head Jeffrey Immelt took to The Washington Post to fret that Chinese cars were 33 percent more efficient than U.S. cars, that China was investing ten times the fraction of its GDP on clean energy that the United States was, and that China was on track to generate five times as much wind power by 2020. "We are clearly not in the lead today," they concluded.

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