Liberal Dem calls for resignation of White House jobs czar

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) on Wednesday urged the White House to fire Jeffrey Immelt as jobs czar if the General Electric CEO doesn't step down.

Kucinich said GE's business practices — including aggressive efforts to minimize corporate taxes and a recent deal with China that critics say could undermine U.S. jobs over time — make Immelt unfit to counsel the president on job-creation strategies.


"Jeffrey Immelt has a conflict of interest," Kucinich said in a statement. "He cannot ethically advise the president on how to create American jobs and promote American competitiveness, while at the same time leading a company that is exporting American technology and, along with it, American jobs."

Immelt and GE have come under fire in recent days after The Washington Post reported the company is solidifying a deal to deliver aerospace technology — developed partly by NASA — to Chinese engineers in return for a foot in the door to China's emerging airline market.

GE has said the deal is too lucrative to pass up, but critics contend it will put additional pressures on U.S. airline manufacturers, such as Boeing, at a time when those companies are providing valuable domestic jobs amid an unemployment crisis.

"American taxpayers subsidized the development of this advanced technology, but U.S. taxpayers’ investment will end up creating jobs in China," Kucinich said.

It's not the first time GE has been in the hot seat this year. In March, The New York Times reported the company had claimed a 2010 tax benefit of $3.2 billion despite domestic profits topping $5 billion. The news drew howls from liberal Democrats and energized the push to close corporate tax loopholes, a central provision of the Democrats' strategy to reduce deficit spending.

"GE strives mightily to avoid paying federal income taxes, but goes ‘all in’ on a deal to transfer U.S. government-subsidized technology to the Chinese," Kucinich charged. "In light of these revelations, Mr. Immelt should save the president the embarrassment of asking him to step down and voluntarily resign."

President Obama tapped Immelt in January to head of the White House Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, a spot previously held by the former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. The move was viewed as a concession to the business community, which has been wary of Obama's pro-business bona fides. 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

This story was updated at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday Aug. 25.