Echoing John F. Kennedy, President Barack Obama prodded business leaders Monday to "ask yourselves what you can do for America," not just for company bottom lines, even as he sought to smooth his uneasy relations with the nation's corporate executives.
Speaking to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the president urged the business community to help accelerate the slow economic recovery by increasing hiring and unleashing some of the $2 trillion piling up on their balance sheets.
"I want to encourage you to get in the game," Obama said.
He enumerated new efforts by his administration to improve the nation's business infrastructure, spend more to support entrepreneurs and foster greater innovation. He vowed to address "a burdensome corporate tax code," and go after "unnecessary and outdated regulations."
But to a polite, subdued audience of about 200 he also offered a stout defense of health care and financial regulation overhauls - two signature administration initiatives that caused some of the most rancorous disputes with the Chamber last year.