Obama Managing Crisis 'Horribly': Jack Welch
The Obama administration has utterly mismanaged the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and it has been "horrible" at crisis management, Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, told CNBC.
"Here's the difference between a businessman and a politician: Businessmen focus on solutions. Politicians focus on 'who can we blame?'" he said. "We have to be managers right now, not politicians. No photo ops."
The administration's finger-pointing is a petty distraction while the oil continues to gush, according to Welch. "There will be time for a criminal investigation when the oil stops leaking out of the ocean. Until then, every resource should be directed towards solving that problem," he said.
Since day one of the explosion, Obama has insisted that BP pays for its mess, and Senate Democrats are currently negotiating a $20 billion escrow fund to ensure it does just that.
But Welch said Obama's request for money may not have even been legal, and that the $20 billion Obama publically requested from BP has probably been agreed in secret with the oil company already, because "I don't even know if it's legal."
The spill—by far the worst in US history—has rekindled the debate about whether or not America is overly dependent on oil.
In his speech from the Oval Office on Tuesday, President Obama summoned Americans to a "national mission" to move away from oiltowards renewable energy, casting the disaster as a golden opportunity to create clean-energy jobs.
But Welch thinks that selling the push towards renewable energy as a "jobs package" is "crazy." The incident may have been a stark reminder of the hazards of oil production, but Welch believes that the world will be using fossil fuels in the near future.
Obama should have met with oil executives much sooner than Wednesday, according to Welch.
"He's got a brutal problem. He doesn't know how to manage it." Instead of trying to defend BP or, more significantly, trying to alleviate the crisis, many of BP's competitors spent their energy Tuesday sneering at the safety lapses of the distressed oil company - a phenomenon Welch finds outrageous.
"It's an industry-wide problem," he said, "The government needs the brainpower of the entire industry in order to clean up this mess."
On the global economy, Welch thinks economic pundits such as Nouriel Roubini, nicknamed "Dr. Doom," are too negative, and the idea that business is bad these days is wrong. On Tuesday, Roubini told CNBC that the risk of a double-dip recession is growing, especially in the euro zone, where restructuring Greece's debt is inevitable.
Europe, like America, is "not crater-ing," and is not going to change the shape of the US recovery, he said.
However, he said there is a mismatch of economic and political sensibilities between European nations, which makes operating a common currency extremely tough, according to Welch.
He welcomed the decline in the currency, which has been overvalued for a while. "The euro could go below a buck," Welch predicted.
General Electric is the parent company of CNBC.