It was supposed to be the White House’s latest make-nice session with corporate America — a visit by Chief of Staff William M. Daley to a meeting with hundreds of manufacturing executives in town to press lawmakers for looser regulations.
But the outreach soon turned into a rare public dressing down of the president’s policies with his highest-ranking aide.
One by one, exasperated executives stood to air their grievances on environmental regulations and stalled free-trade deals. And Daley, the former banker tasked with building ties with industry, found himself looking for the right balance between empathy and defending his boss.
At one point, the room erupted in applause when Massachusetts manufacturing executive Doug Starrett, his voice shaking with emotion, accused the administration of blocking construction on one of his facilities to protect fish
, saying government “throws sand into the gears of progress.”
Daley said he did not have many good answers, appearing to throw up his hands
in frustration at what he called “bureaucratic stuff that’s hard to defend
“Sometimes you can’t defend the indefensible
,” he said.
When a paper company executive said Environmental Protection Agency regulations might cost her $10 million to $15 million to upgrade a mill, Daley said the number of rules and regulations “that come out of agencies is overwhelming
Later, he added: “We’re trying to bring some rationality to it