Obama says he shares mission with business leaders

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and 20 business leaders worked through lunch Wednesday on ways to boost anemic U.S. job creation and improve their own testy relations amid rising anxiety over the slow economic recovery.

The president said he wants ideas from business leaders on how to “seize the promise of this moment.”

The closely watched session represents something of a reset for the president as he seeks common ground with a business community that has bristled over the administration’s approach to health care, financial regulations and executives’ bonuses.

With unemployment at 9.8 percent and weak home prices and tight credit placing a drag on growth, the president was looking to shake loose more than $1.9 trillion in untapped corporate cash to help the recovery.

Agenda items included an overhaul of the tax system, ways to ease regulations on business and greater private sector investments.

A priority for business leaders is altering or eliminating regulations they believe are creating uncertainty and hindering growth, a step White House officials say Obama is open to considering.

The policy climate for Obama-business relations has changed since the November elections altered the balance of power in the capital, giving Republicans control of the House.

In recent weeks, Obama announced a new trade agreement with South Korea that corporate leaders applauded and negotiated a tax deal with Republicans that included new business investment incentives. The Senate passed that measure on Wednesday.

No major announcements were expected from the session. But Obama’s outreach meets the White House’s goal of sharpening his image as a president willing to reach out to former antagonists, a move that has angered liberals but could resonate with independent voters.

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