President Barack Obama’s Jobs Council hasn’t met publicly for six months, even as the issue of job creation dominates the 2012 election.
At this point, the hiatus — which reached the half-year mark Tuesday — might be less awkward than an official meeting, given the hornet’s nest of issues that could sting Obama and the council members if the private-sector panel gets together.
For starters, there’s the discomfort many business leaders may feel in appearing to embrace the president with his reelection bid in full swing.
Then, there’s the fact that some members of the commission have conspicuously declined to endorse him. And that Obama has conspicuously declined to endorse some of their recommendations. And that some of what Obama won’t endorse has been warmly embraced by Republicans, including likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
To cap it all off, several of the companies whose CEOs serve on the panel are involved to some extent in outsourcing — a fact that could undercut the ferocious attack Obama and his campaign are mounting on Romney over his alleged ties to the practice.
One former administration official said the current political atmosphere could be prompting the CEOs and other business leaders to lie low.
“The thing is supposed to be bipartisan, so a lot of times they don’t want to get into things that could be used by either side in the election,” said the former aide, who asked not to be named. “The businesspeople, for the most part, don’t want to get into the middle of political fighting.”