WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama lobbied the head of Intel to talk up the more than $800 billion economic recovery package moving through Congress, the chief executive of the world’s biggest chip maker said Tuesday.
Paul Otellini said Obama “encouraged” him in a brief phone call Monday to publicly support the stimulus plan that includes billions in public spending to create jobs as well as for unemployment benefits, food stamps, health care and other programs to help victims of the worst recession in decades.
The legislation cleared the Senate Tuesday afternoon and pointed toward House-Senate negotiations that are expected to be difficult.
In reaching out to Otellini, Obama was touching all bases in his campaign for the stimulus, which he said in a televised news conference Monday night must be enacted to avoid deepening the crisis “as well as the pain felt by millions of Americans.”
Obama lobbied Congress from Florida Tuesday, declaring that Americans are out of patience with Washington gridlock as lawmakers haggle over legislative details.
Otellini said he believed the package has very strong aspects and “I think in the aggregate I do” support it. But he acknowledged that he tends to prefer investment over spending and indicated there were parts of the plan he wouldn’t fully endorse, without providing further details.
“We’re not looking for help,” he told reporters after a speech in which he announced Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel’s plans to spend $7 billion upgrading its factories over the next two years – a sign that the downturn hasn’t extinguished chip makers’ lust for cutting-edge equipment.
But the stimulus plan’s commitment to building infrastructure will help restore economic confidence to lift the country and spark investment by the private sector, Otellini said.
“I don’t see a snapback,” or speedy economic recovery, but it makes sense for Intel to make a $7 billion investment in the face of the downturn, giving the company “a huge competitive advantage,” he said.
Otellini, who first met Obama recently at a dinner in Washington, called the president “very quick” and lauded his ability to poke fun at himself.