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Obama to meet with top CEOs on Wednesday

December 13, 2010 |  1:57 pm

President Obama will gather top business chief executives at the White House on Wednesday to talk about how to strengthen the economic recovery.

Plans for the meeting were still being finalized Monday, but among the expected attendees are Eric Schmidt of Google Inc. and John Chambers of Cisco Systems Inc. The agenda is still unclear as well, but the topics will include finding ways to improve education and spur investment, as well as increase U.S. exports, the White House said.

Obama Another potential topic is getting businesses to use some of the $1.93 trillion in cash they were sitting on as of the end of September to hire more workers.

The meeting is part of increased outreach to corporate America by White House officials over the last few months to counter criticism that Obama has been anti-business. The administration in recent weeks has made moves cheered by executives, including completing a trade deal with South Korea and negotiating a compromise with congressional Republican leaders to extend all the Bush-era tax cuts, as well as adding other provisions favorable to businesses.

Obama is even working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of his most ardent critics leading up to the midterm elections, to arrange a date next month for him to address the group.

"Obviously one of the biggest proponents of the Korea free-trade agreement was the Chamber of Commerce," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday. "I think that whether it's
individuals at the chamber or whether it's members of the chamber, whether it's CEOs that are members of the chamber or belong to other organizations, again, I think there are a series of issues that are important to the business community that are important to getting our economy moving again, and I think those are issues that the president's eager to work on."

Thomas Donohue, president of the chamber, said last week that he commended Obama for the tax-cut deal and for his outreach.

"All of our differences have been on policy issues. None of them have been personal, on this side of the street for sure," said Donohue, whose office is just across the street from the White House. "What we are interested in now is to keep moving out of this recession, put Americans back to work and put the recession behind us so that we can begin to build jobs all over this country."

-- Jim Puzzanghera

Photo: President Obama. Credit: Jim Watson / AFP Getty Images