If there's a runner-up to GE's Jeffrey Immelt for the title of President Obama's favorite CEO, it might be Dow Chemical's Andrew Liveris. The Wall Street Journal reviews Mr. Liveris's new book, Make It in America, without any mention at all of the Obama connection. The Journal says Mr. Liveris "thinks that the U.S. government needs to draw up a national strategy to encourage more manufacturing, especially in renewable energy and other 'green' technologies." Also, "Mr. Liveris would like see the federal government offer financial incentives to various companies—beyond what is already dangled by state and local agencies—to encourage manufacturers to build factories in the U.S."
In November 2009, President Obama named Mr. Liveris to the U.S.-India CEO Forum and invited him to a meeting at the Treasury Department with Secretary Geithner and Lawrence Summers. In July 2010, Mr. Obama appointed Mr. Liveris a member of the President's Export Council. Last week, Mr. Liveris, like Mr. Immelt, was invited to the White House to meet with President Obama and Chinese leader Hu Jintao, and Mr. Liveris, like Mr. Immelt, stayed for the state dinner.
Is it just a coincidence that all these CEOs hanging around Mr. Obama want things — "a national strategy," "financial incentives" — beyond simply a government that treats every business the same way? Certainly the traits rewarded by these sorts of government-bestowed preferences for businesses include some, such as the ability to gain access to government officials, that these big-company CEOs seem to have in abundance.