GE CEO Jeff Immelt Exploits Reagan Legacy to Bolster Image with Conservatives; GE’s Celebration of Reagan is Politically Motivated, says the Free Enterprise Project

In response to GE’s recent announcement of its sponsorship commemorating the Centennial Celebration of President Ronald Reagan’s birth, today the Free Enterprise Project of the National Center for Public Policy Research is criticizing GE CEO Jeff Immelt for exploiting Reagan’s legacy to curry favor with conservatives.

“I’m outraged over Immelt’s shameless exploitation of President Reagan’s historic presidency to improve GE’s reputation among conservatives. Reagan is the champion of conservatives because he fought for liberty and limited government. In contrast, Immelt uses GE’s vast lobbying resources to expand the size and role of government in order to create markets for its products and loot Americans of their liberty,” said Tom Borelli, Ph.D., Director of the National Center for Public Research’s Free Enterprise Project.

Borelli notes that GE is an aggressive supporter of cap-and-trade legislation and that the company played a key role in passing the Waxman-Markey climate change bill last year.  GE hopes the capping of carbon emissions would force demand for its renewable energy products such as wind turbines and solar panels. With cap-and-trade currently stalled in the Senate, GE lobbyists are now writing energy legislation for Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that would mandate that an increasing amount of electricity be derived from renewable energy sources.

“In anticipating a Tea Party surge of conservatives to be elected next November, Immelt needs to steer the GE ship hard right. With his revenue increasingly dependent on government projects, policies, and subsidies, Immelt can’t be caught on the progressive aisle if the Republicans take charge in Congress.  That’s why Immelt is running ads recalling Reagan’s role with GE during the 1950’s,” added Borelli.

“It’s going to take a lot of advertising to wash away the progressive odor from Immelt’s policies. Immelt is a member of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, and he has repeatedly been an Obama cheerleader, ranging from defending the president’s commencement speech at Notre Dame to echoing Obama’s views on CEO greed during a talk at West Point.  GE’s NBC Universal media empire frequently promotes the Administration’s green agenda, and MSNBC’s progressive attack dogs – led by Keith Olbermann – consistently assault anything that represents conservative values.”

GE is being richly rewarded by Obama’s economic stimulus package. GE lobbied the Administration to make sure its utility customers, including Duke Energy, Exelon and FPL Group, were given hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money. 

The contrast between Reagan and Immelt’s GE is stark in regard to dealing with national adversaries. While Reagan was responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union, Immelt’s GE has profited from selling infrastructure equipment to Iran.

“Immelt should realize slick advertising will not cover up his pact with the progressive devils. Because of Immelt, today’s GE has far more in common with Obama, Reid, Pelosi and Olbermann than with President Reagan.”

The Free Enterprise Project is a program of The National Center For Public Policy Research, a conservative, free-market non-profit think-tank established in 1982.  It is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters, and receives less than one percent of its revenue from corporate sources.


The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.