Former Gov. John Engler Pleads With Obama to Stop Ragging on CEOs

Engler says sharp critiques of executive pay gets the U.S. nowhere.

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Business Roundtable President and Former Michigan Gov. John Engler told reporters Thursday that Obama's populist message is pushing once-pro Obama business leaders into Romney's camp.

[Check out pictures of Obama's re-election campaign.]

"The president is not as strong as he was four years ago. I think he had a lot of support," Engler said. "I think he is trying to win that back. But if it is going to be the 1 percent against the 99 percent, it is going to be very hard to do that."

Engler says the class warfare aspects of Obama's campaign are disconcerting to the business community.

"I think generally this is a time when the country needs to pull together," Engler said at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. "We've got a lot of serious problems that need to be solved, and it will take leadership, and it's going to take bipartisanship to get it done."

[Read Republicans Blast Obama on Energy.]

Engler says the "99 percent vs. 1 percent rhetoric" is a detraction from the real issue of high unemployment, high corporate tax rates and loads of debt.

"If tomorrow we slashed all CEO's salaries 50 percent or all CEOs said they'd work for free for a year, would that change unemployment rates?" Engler wondered. "No. And that is the fundamental problem."

Engler argues that before voters attack CEOs, they should direct their attention to their legislators who have accomplished little this year.

"CEO pay relative to performance might be a lot better than any public sector pay compared to performance," he said.

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