Several alternative investments and Wall Street executives met with a senior White House official yesterday as President Barack Obama continued to build support for his fiscal plan even as signs indicate that talks with House Speaker John Boehner are not going well.
Och-Ziff Capital Management founder Daniel Och and Blackstone Group real-estate chief Jonathan Gray met with senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and other members of the White House economic team. Also invited were Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Stefan Selig and JPMorgan Chase's Jes Staley.
The confab is the second held with financial honchos in recent weeks by members of the Obama administration. Jarrett met with prominent Wall Street Democrats Marc Lasry of Avenue Capital Group and Gary Cohn of Goldman Sachs last week.
Obama seems to be making inroads with those who did not support his reelection, putting pressure on Boehner to cave on tax increases for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Those tax increases, along with hikes for all others, as well as hundreds of billions in spending cuts automatically go into effect on Jan. 1 in the absence of a deal.
Obama spoke to the conservative Business Roundtable last week, and was rewarded this week when the group dropped its opposition to higher taxes. It said in a letter to the president that "no options should be precluded from a potential solution" and specifically cited increasing tax rates as one of those options.
"We recognize that part of the solution has to be tax increases," Honeywell CEO David Cote, a Business Roundtable member, said. "That's the only thing that allows a reasonable compromise to be reached."
"I think the president is reaching out pretty aggressively in the context of trying to make connections to the other side to get a deficit deal done," Blackstone CEO Steven Schwarzman, who backed Obama's opponent, Mitt Romney, in November's election, told CNBC yesterday. "It's pretty clear that we are one nation."
"If people who didn't support the president believe the president is acting reasonably, they're going to put pressure on the other side," Lasry told CNBC. "You need both sides to be reasonable."