White House Dodges Questions About NLRB’s Complaint Against Boeing

From today’s White House press briefing conducted by Jay Carney:

Q Boeing CEO Jim McNerney, who chairs the President’s Export Council, said the National Labor Relations Board suit against his company for building a plant in a right-to-work state is a fundamental assault on capitalism. I’m wondering is the President aware of the issue, and does he think the government should be involved in how businesses allocate capital or resources?

MR. CARNEY: Well, it’s obviously been in the news, so we are aware of it, but I would refer any questions about it to the NLRB because it is an independent agency, and we do not get involved in particular enforcement matters of independent agencies.

Q The President has weighed in on outside issues before, though. I mean is this something — it’s also coming from someone who is chairing the Export Council, who’s saying this is hurting job creation.

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have a reaction to this from the President. And I think the fact that he’s weighed in on outside issues doesn’t mean that he will weigh in on an independent agency’s enforcement action.

Carney then changed the subject to tout the President’s record on the auto industry and hail the growth of manufacturing.

The National Labor Relations Board is indeed an independent executive branch agency, one that is not directly answerable to the President. But there’s nothing stopping the President from expressing disapproval of a complaint that threatens a multi-billion-dollar investment, sows economic uncertainty, and could fundamentally change the business climate in the United States, making us less competitive. The President enjoys the same free speech rights as everyone else — except for Boeing executives talking about business decisions, apparently — and he can comment.

How about this instead from Carney? “The President is aware of this issue. While he does not presume to instruct an independent agency how to proceed, the President is very troubled by the implications for jobs and economic growth of the NLRB’s complaint. Some members of Congress are discussing a legislative response to make sure the federal government does not hinder the expansion of companies anywhere in the United States. The President is watching those efforts with interest.”

Or: “It seems like a very bad idea, what the NLRB is doing. I hope Lafe Solomon, my appointee as acting general counsel, reconsiders his complaint.”

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