WASHINGTON — Having failed to persuade their traditional Republican allies in Congress to avert a government shutdown, business leaders fear bigger problems ahead, and they’re taking sides with a Democratic president whose health care and regulatory agenda they have vigorously opposed.
President Barack Obama is embracing the business outreach, eager to employ groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Wall Street CEOs to portray House Republicans as out of touch even with their long-established corporate and financial patrons.
Yet, the partial closing of the government and the looming confrontation over the nation’s borrowing limit highlight the remarkable drop in the business community’s influence among House Republicans, who increasingly respond more to tea party conservatives than to the Chamber of Commerce.
On Wednesday, Obama was hosting chief executives from the nation’s 19 biggest financial firms. Moreover, the Chamber of Commerce has sent a letter to Congress signed by about 250 business groups urging no shutdown and warning against a debt ceiling crisis that they say could lead to an economically disastrous default.
“We’re here to talk about what we’re expert in, which is what the economy requires and what’s helpful for growth,” said Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, as he arrived at the White House.