In recent months, the administration's focus has shifted from stabilizing the economy in the midst of the financial crisis to creating jobs. On January 21, 2011, President Obama announced the creation of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The Council was created by executive order to replace the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness ("PERAB"), which was headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul A. Volcker. PERAB was set to expire on February 6, 2011. President Obama named Jeffrey R. Immelt, the chief executive officer and chairman of General Electric ("GE"), to be the chairman of this new council of outside economic advisers.
The White House stated that "the council will focus on finding new ways to promote growth by investing in American business to encourage hiring, to educate and train our workers to compete globally, and to attract the best jobs and businesses to the United States." In appointing Mr. Immelt as chairman, President Obama cited his experience at GE "and his understanding of the vital role the private sector plays in creating jobs and making America competitive." Mr. Immelt was at the President's side during meetings with business leaders in Mumbai in November 2010, at which time the White House announced a number of business deals between Indian and American companies, including a $750 million order from India's Reliance Power Ltd. for GE's steam turbines. In an interview in Mumbai on November 6, 2011, Mr. Immelt stated that the President's goal of doubling American exports to more than $2 trillion in the next five years is "the right aspiration." Mr. Immelt also accompanied the President to meetings with Chinese President Hu and business leaders during Mr. Hu's visit in January.
President Obama continued his message regarding job creation at his address to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on February 7, 2011, urging the Chamber to "hire American workers, to support the American economy, and to invest in this nation." For the government's part, he promised to support the expansion of businesses by encouraging innovation; upgrading transportation, communication, and information networks; investing in education for a trained workforce; and removing regulation and taxation barriers. President Obama, however, emphasized that businesses share responsibility with the government to continue the economic recovery, especially through domestic job creation. Those attending the address noted that the next step is for the President to offer more specific proposals and to take action.