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Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 10:24 am

Obama to corporations: ‘I feel your pain.’

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President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with CEOs of several small and community banks in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.
PHOTO BY OLIVIER DOULIERY/MCT

Guess who’s whining the loudest these days, wailing that they’re getting a raw deal from Barack Obama.

Not the unemployed and barely employed – even though the White House has blithely ignored their critical need for a national jobs program. Not the poor, even though their ranks are swelling as millions of Americans fall out of the middle class.

No, no, the most insistent demand for attention is coming from way above the poor and the middle class. Believe it or not, it’s the CEOs of Americas biggest corporations and the top bankers of Wall Street who’re stamping their little Gucci-clad feet, bawling that they should be getting more love and support from the president.

It seems that the feelings of these precious ones have been hurt by Obama’s occasional condemnation of the stupefying greed that’s been shown by the likes of health insurance executives and Wall Street banksters. As one CEO put it, Obama’s attitude “felt too much like we were the bad guys.”

Yoo-hoo, Mr. Multimillionaire Executive, YOU ARE! Corporate chieftains are ruthlessly downsizing the middle class, carelessly polluting our air and water, gleefully destroying our democracy by using their corrupting corporate money to buy our government and generally feeling entitled to run roughshod over everyone – all while pocketing obscene levels of wealth for themselves. Yet they’re the ones crying?

Those guys are pathetic – they’re a bunch of narcissists with a sense of entitlement. Obama ought to send each of them a box of Kleenex and tell ’em to go to hell. But unfortunately, he’s no Harry Truman. So instead, he’s giving in to them!

“(I intend) to make clear to the business community,” he recently announced, “that the most important thing we can do is to boost and encourage our business sector.” Hello ... they’re doing fine. The most important thing you can do is boost America’s middle class.

Obama’s helping not only multimillionaire corporate CEOs. He’s also helping their friends at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Of all the groups in America that need the president of the U.S. on its side, you’d think the last to win a pledge of support would be the Chamber.

After all, this outfit, which is largely funded and run by a handful of America’s biggest corporations, has become the most powerful lobbying force in Washington – and one of the richest front groups funneling secret corporate cash into our elections. Indeed, it poured tens of millions of those dollars into campaign ads this fall to demonize the president and turn the U.S. House over to anti-Obama Republicans.

Yet, the day after the election, the Chamber found itself being wooed by the White House. The president even dispatched his treasury secretary to the Chamber’s opulent headquarters to eat crow and promise that, henceforth, Obama and Team would be more corporate friendly.

Good grief! Friendlier than Obama’s Wall Street reform that coddled the big banksters, or his health care reform that further entrenches profiteering insurance giants inside the system? Or the tax bill cave-in that needlessly awards billions of dollars in special breaks for corporations and rich CEOs?

Yes. So friendly that Obama is now holding an ongoing series of closed-door policy meetings with assorted CEOs. So friendly that he’s already delayed regulations to strengthen anti-pollution rules. So friendly that his deficit-reduction panel proposes cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 26 percent. So friendly that he’s planning to put a high-powered CEO right inside the White House with him, as demanded by the whining corporate powers who say they’re not getting enough love from the president.

Why do they get a special presidential slot? Why not one for labor, small farmers, consumers, the unemployed? Remind me again – is this guy a Democrat?

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist and author.

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