White House sources say that they are pleased with the initial rollout of President Obama's "Startup America" program, which they say will focus on encouraging American businesses to speed up investments in manufacturing, information technology, green technology, bio-sciences. A stated goal of the program is to encourage those companies that are startups to do so in economically distressed areas of the country.
U.S. business coalitions, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, which have roundly criticized the Obama Administration's handling of the economy and its anti-business rhetoric and policies, are supportive of the program, and a number of member companies, such as IBM, Intel, HP, GE, Google, among many others, are committed to participating, says the White House. The program is being overseen by former AOL founder Steve Case.
But because much of the program will have ties inside the Obama White House, the Commerce Department, and other Obama agencies, White House sources say, Obama's political operation will be able to monitor -- and they hope influence -- political giving for the 2012 election cycle from those companies.
"Technically, we are all on the same team now, so why would a company that is working with us so closely on 'Startup America' or some of the other 'pro-business' projects we've been announcing want to give financial support for the campaigns of Republicans?" says a White House policy staffer who will shortly be moving to a new job at the Democratic National Committee's expanding 2012 campaign operation. "It's one more way to engage corporate America. We know many of the executives are predisposed to Democrats, this is just a way to build more connections."