President Barack Obama walks back to the White House after his meeting with business leaders Wednesday.The CEOs of Boeing (BA), Honeywell International (HON) and United Parcel Service (UPS), among others, say they were encouraged by Wednesday's discussions with President Barack Obama about the U.S. economy and international competitiveness of domestic companies.

Eighteen CEOs met with Obama, including the heads of Google (GOOG), General Electric (GE) and Comcast (CMCSA). Obama and financial leaders spent more than five hours on Wednesday discussing topics such as government-funded incentives for employee training, improvements in trade agreements with other countries and a possible reduction in the tax rate on overseas profits.

"It all centered on competitiveness of our economy and the job creation that comes behind it," Boeing CEO James McNerney said in a CNBC interview.

The president vowed to try to make the government-business relationship more collaborative, the CEOs told CNBC. "There's an important recognition that business and government must work together," Honeywell CEO David Cote said in a separate CNBC interview. Meanwhile, UPS CEO Scott Davis and UBS (UBS) President Robert Wolf both characterized the discussions as "constructive."

Tax Package Remains Controversial

But the CEOs were hardly unanimous in their support for the $858 billion tax package that the Senate passed the same day. The Senate on Wednesday agreed to extend tax breaks and unemployment benefits while cutting Social Security taxes. The bill, which Senate passed by a more than 4-to-1 margin, will now need to get approval from the House of Representatives, according to the Associated Press.

Tax cuts have been a point of contention between Obama and Republicans. The president wanted to increase capital-gains taxes while granting tax breaks for the middle class and for small businesses, while Republicans say ending any tax breaks -- even those for the highest earners -- would hamper the country's economic recovery.

The meetings Wednesday may have eased some of the tension. Boeing's McNerney told CNBC that "virtually all of the people in the room felt that it was a good step forward."

But not everyone agrees. Honeywell's Cote said that while the package may help the U.S. economy in the short term, it won't help the country's staggering debt levels, which will eventually take their toll on U.S. businesses. "That kind of compromise as an ongoing basis is going to sink us as a country," Cote told CNBC.


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pcakepal

Now 84, speaking as a life-long entrepreneur having started his own machine shop company in the hustle-bustle of the Boston Route 128 era in the early 1950's and forehead deep in manufacturing since, it is crystal clear that our talking heads avoid the central issue and crux of the current and near future horrible economic scenario... The non-stop government zany spending simply has to STOP... Yah I know, it's political suicide on the one hand and a belt-tightening, heart wrenching Main Street stretch on the other hand, but there's just no postponing destiny, if the nation is to spin out of this night mare horror movie! Happy schwappy Uncle Sam foreign aid giveaway packages, no more. Participation in all foriegn involvements and especially, wars,,, MUST STOP IMMEDIATELY... Bring to a close, the killing and wounding of our young, best and brightest, under the false guise of national security. Our national security begins at home within our north and south borders, Oceans on the east and west... Period. And also very swiftly rid ourselves of deeply entrenched Congressional leaders who serve other than the taxpayer, you know, the forgotten folks who pay the bills.

December 16 2010 at 10:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robert & Lisa

Tax breaks for overseas investments, what about tax breaks for Americans, and you Democrats thought he was on the side of the average American? Obama and his Demoncrat thug cronies are selling us out to the evil, rich men like George Soros who support him.

December 16 2010 at 2:57 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply