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GE CEO Swats Back at Bernie Sanders and It’s Glorious

GE CEO Swats Back at Bernie Sanders and It’s Glorious

“We’ve never been a big hit with socialists”

Bernie Sanders has few compliments for anyone he’s decided engages in “corporate greed.”

In his disastrous interview with the New York Daily News, Sanders claimed General Electric was, “destroying the moral fabric,” of America.

Daily News: I understand that. I wanted to draw a distinction, though. Because in your speech you mention the financial industry and you focused on corporate America, the greed of Wall Street and corporate America. So I wanted to get a sense of corporate America, as the agent of American destruction.

Sanders: General Electric, good example. General Electric was created in this country by American workers and American consumers. What we have seen over the many years is shutting down of many major plants in this country. Sending jobs to low-wage countries. And General Electric, doing a very good job avoiding the taxes. In fact, in a given year, they pay nothing in taxes. That’s greed.

That is greed and that’s selfishness. That is lack of respect for the people of this country.

Daily News: And so how does that destroy the fabric of America?

Sanders: I’ll tell you how it does. If you are a corporation and the only damn thing you are concerned about is your profits. Let’s just give an example of a corporation that’s making money in America, today, but desiring to move to China or to Mexico to make even more money. That is destroying the moral fabric of this country. That is saying that I don’t care that the workers, here have worked for decades. It doesn’t matter to me. The only thing that matters is that I can make a little bit more money. That the dollar is all that is almighty. And I think that is the moral fabric.

To me, what moral is, I’ve got to be concerned about you. You’ve got to be concerned about my wife. That’s moral to me. That’s what I believe in. And if the only thing that matters to you is making an extra buck, you don’t care about my family, I think that’s immoral. And I think what corporate America has shown us in the last number of years, what Wall Street has shown us, the only thing that matters is their profits and their money. And the hell with the rest of the people of this country.

GE, was not impressed.

Thursday, Jeffrey Immelt, GE’s CEO penned an op-ed in The Washington Post dismantling Sanders’ claims. And it was glorious.

The senator had been asked to cite examples of corporate greed at its worst. Somehow that got him to talking about us.

GE has been in business for 124 years, and we’ve never been a big hit with socialists. We create wealth and jobs, instead of just calling for them in speeches. We take risks, invest, innovate and produce in ways that today sustain 125,000 U.S. jobs. Our engineers innovate every day to build hardware and software solutions that meet real-world challenges. Our employees are proud of our company. I meet second- and third-generation employees whenever I travel across the country. I am one myself. Our suppliers and partners are proud of our company. Our communities are proud of our company. Our pride, history and hard work are real — the moral fabric of America.

The senator has never bothered to stop by our aviation plant in Rutland, Vt. We’ve been investing heavily (some $100 million in recent years), hiring and turning out some of the world’s finest jet-engine components in Vermont since the 1950s. The plant employs more than 1,000 people who are very good at what they do. It’s a picture of first-rate jobs with high wages, advanced manufacturing in a vital industry — how things look when American workers are competing and winning — and Vermont’s junior senator is always welcome to come by for a tour.

Elsewhere in Vermont, GE Healthcare employs more than 340 men and women in South Burlington. Yearly, GE does about $40 million worth of business with dozens of suppliers of parts and services across Vermont. Nationwide, we have 200 GE plants, including 15 that were built in the past five years — all with the aim of making GE the world’s premier industrial company.

Sanders says that he is upset about GE’s operations abroad — as though a company that has customers in more than 180 countries should have no presence in any of them. He never mentions that we are one of the United States’ prime exporters, annually selling in excess of $20 billion worth of American-made goods to the world. Nor does he mention that our sales around the world support our manufacturing base here at home, along with the thousands of U.S. companies in our supply chain. You want to cause big problems for our suppliers — many of whom are small and medium-size businesses — and their workers? The surest way would be to pull out of those countries and lose those customers.

We are competing globally with foreign companies whose governments care whether they win and support them in innumerable ways. U.S. companies continue to wrestle with an outdated and complex tax code that puts them at a distinct competitive disadvantage. Sanders has stated many times that GE pays no taxes. Repeating a lie over and over does not make it true. We pay billions in taxes, including federal, state and local taxes. The U.S. tax system has not been updated in 30 years and isn’t designed for today’s economy, which is why we support comprehensive tax reform — even if it raises our tax rate.

It’s easy to make hollow campaign promises and take cheap shots in speeches and during editorial board sessions, but U.S. companies have to deliver for their employees, customers and shareholders every day. GE operates in the real world. We’re in the business of building real things and generating real growth for a nation that needs it now more than ever. I’m proud of all that we do, and how it all figures into “the moral fabric” of America is so plain to me. It seems Sen. Sanders is missing the point.


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littlebeartoe | April 8, 2016 at 7:12 am

OK, I’m buying GE today.

To be fair to Bernie, GE has engaged in more than its share of crony capitalism in some areas. That certainly counts as “destroying the moral fabric,” though I doubt that is what he had in mind.

GE operates in the real world.

A place Burny Sanders has never visited.

G. de La Hoya | April 8, 2016 at 8:45 am

Immelt did get into bed with Obama and that is maybe why I distrust him. Maybe the fact too is that this dose of reality needed to be trumpeted to Obama and his entitlement takers, but never happened. I have never been employed by an economic illiterate.

Some notes….

1. in several important ways, this was high kabuki theater, with two actors going through set-piece parts. Sanders is not a “socialist” in any meaningful economic way, and GE is one of the biggest and earliest adopters of the fascist economic system that many of us call “crony capitalism”.

2. read what Bernie said about foreign trade, and compare and contrast that with what Der Donald says. You can’t put a knife blade between them. It’s the same demagoguery.

3. any for-profit business has ONE…and ONLY ONE…reason to exist and one focus; to make a profit. That is its very highest and best social good in a MARKET ECONOMY. That is not only NOT greed, it is beneficence…and for everybody. A lot of the clap-trap that they even teach in business schools today is Collectivist BS, and many of our biggest businesses are riddled with those loopy notions, such as Gorebal Climate Thingy.

4. rent-seekers like GE bulldoze out new, entrepreneurial innovators by sucking all the competitive forces out of their markets via lobbying the biggest customer there is; the central government. They often vigorously support MORE regulation, because they can easily afford to meet the burdens it imposes, where a up-start enterprise will be killed by them. In markets like the military, GE dominates via influence with the whole acquisition chain, which it knows well and grease liberally.

So, yeah, both Sanders and Immelt played their parts well, spoke their lines convincingly for the boobs, and moved through the kabuki dance.

But BOTH of them HATE markets and market forces, and they HATE having people free to act in markets via CHOICE, and LOVE the BIG GOVERNMENT/BIG BUSINESS collusion of the fascist economic system.

Both would rather go toes up than change one damn thing about the other. They’ve worked too hard…as have their predecessors…to get things just like they want them. It would all be just fine-tuning the dials on the machine with them, not any kind of real reform in either direction.

    Barry in reply to Ragspierre. | April 8, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    Alright, with the exception of 2, you are absolutely on target. 2 is just utter TDS BS.

    Our economic system in this country is a complete disaster, and it is all a result of our corrupt government.

    DaveGinOly in reply to Ragspierre. | April 8, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Concerning point #1 – Bernie believes in redistribution of wealth, cradle-to-grave social welfare, thinks corporations should be run for the benefit of providing largess for the government to distribute in its own name, and, for most of his career, called himself a socialist.

    Something about a duck comes to mind.

      Ragspierre in reply to DaveGinOly. | April 9, 2016 at 11:21 am

      Full Definition of socialism

      : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

      a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

      : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

      As I’ve pointed out, Bernie and T-rump actually are more correctly fascists in their economic policy.

      Bernie isn’t even suggesting the misappropriation of businesses to put them under state ownership.

      Fascists are happy to have businesses in nominal control of private owners, while exercising control over many of the decisions and means of production, and taking the proceeds.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | April 8, 2016 at 9:22 am

Democrats have been using anti-business rhetoric to manipulate their far left wing base for decades. But they didn’t really want to overthrow the entire system. The idea was to throw the far left kooks a bone by imposing taxation and regulations on business so the idealistic kooks could think they are saving the world. In return, the kooks would supply them with votes. But the constant anti-business rhetoric from politicians and the far left tilt in academia has created a new generation of Americans who really believe the anti-business crap. Bernie, or someone like him, was inevitable.

They’ve created a monster that they are now trying to kill. In the past two or three weeks Jonathan Chait has written not one but two essays trying to explain to his readers why socialism always leads to totalitarianism, disaster and misery. Jonathan Chait. Even the consistently awful Paul Krugman has tried to talk Democrats off the Bernie ledge. So has Charles Lane (who is not as prone to hyperbole and is much more reasonable than most on the left).

The Democrats cynically engaged in business bashing rhetoric for votes, and now it has enabled the rise of a full throated socialist whose policies will lead to disaster. A man who openly campaigns on the promise of revolution. Now they are desperately trying to control and stop the Frankenstein monster they created.

Yes, Jeff Immelt deserves part of the blame. He sided with Obama in ’08. He chose the dark side. Now he has to reap what he helped sow.

Smart politicians pick smart fights. This doesn’t look so smart to me. GE owns NBC and MSNBC, which cover his campaign daily, and has a high-tech manufacturing plant in Bernie’s own state that he clearly didn’t even know about. And even though Bernie’s running as an outsider, at some point he does need the political insiders to come on board or at least take him seriously and this isn’t how you do it.

He probably should have just stuck to the standard” Wal-Mart and oil companies are evil” script. Companies like that are so used to it they wouldn’t bother reading to the end, much less putting out a statement.

The Bern is becoming more than a simple nuisance.

    Belial Issimo in reply to Merlin. | April 8, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    It’s never wise to treat Commies as simply a nuisance. Let’s hope Sanders does take that GE tour Immelt invited him to. Would be a shame if he got electrocuted, but that’s the price of progress.

While the readers at LI might get misty eyed over such an article, that message doesn’t resonate with a voter base that doesn’t want or hold one of these jobs.

They want free stuff.

That’s how Obama got elected. Twice.

Sanders does not acknowledge the moral principle of intrinsic value or the scientific evidence — and self-evident knowledge — for human evolution (i.e. chaotic process) from conception. So, his proposal for redistributive change schemes has ulterior motives and its hypocrisy will be a first-order cause of catastrophic anthropogenic government whoring and progressive corruption.

Individual dignity. Intrinsic value. Natural imperatives. Go forth and reconcile.

While I think Immelt was wronng to back the O, I like his rejoinder to Brookln Bolshie Boynie.

Voted my shares in GE against Immelt.
Bring back Neutron Jack Welch.

Would that be the same GE that is consistently one of the highest spending corporate lobbyists in Washington?

Would that be the same GE that encouraged congress to force us to buy compact flourescent bulbs?

Would that be the same GE that shut down incandescent bulb factories in the US and built new factories in China to manufacture compact flourescents?

Would that be the same GE whose chairman Jeffrey Immelt headed Obama’s Jobs Council?

Would that the Jobs Council whose mission was to “strengthen the Nation’s economy and ensure the competitiveness of the United States and on ways to create jobs, opportunity, and prosperity for the American people.”?

Would that be the same ineffective Jobs Council who conducted a total of 4 meetings, ending in Jan 2012?