Business Leaders Grade Obama's Town Hall Message


President Obama stayed on a “pro-growth” agenda and avoided attacking Wall Street,but held his ground on the Bush tax cuts and other policies, CNBC guests said Monday, following a town hall meeting.

“I heard that $250K is going to get a tax increase, that’s in cement,” said James Paulsen, chief investment strategist of Wells Capital Management. “I heard that the dividend may be debatable, whether it stays at 15 and goes to 20. They even put payroll taxation cuts on the table.”

Former Continental Airlines CEO Gordon Bethune gave Obama a “B” grade, although he faulted the president for relying on “ain’t it awful what I inherited from my predecessor” and not addressing the “rising deficits driven by Medicare and Medicaid.”

The most upbeat response came from Myrtle Potter, CEO of Potter and Company and former Genentech president and COO, even though she would have preferred a more positive message.

“The president was very, very clear that we have a very, very tough situation,” said Potter.

“He really addressed a broad range on constituents [during the Town Hall],” she added.

"I was looking to hear a strong positive message around business and his understanding that the future of business recovery lies with a wonderful partnership with businesses big and small and also lies in businesses being able to stimulate the economy by creating new jobs.”