Jack Welch: Political Leaders 'Deserve a Spanking' for Shutdown

Friday, 04 Oct 2013 10:39 AM

By Michael Kling

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Washington politicians' failure to meet with each other, or to schmooze, before the shutdown is appalling, says former General Electric CEO Jack Welch.

"It's terrible. Both sides deserve a spanking for this," Welch told CNN's Piers Morgan. "The fact that are not talking, that they haven't been talking for the last six months, is terrible.

"The only way you solve these problems is to schmooze, if you will, when you're not in crisis. You don't want the negotiations to be your first date. You want to have been dating all along as you come to a crisis"

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And that doesn't mean meeting people on your side, Welch says. Leaders must deal with their adversaries.

As CEO of GE, he talked frequently with the company's union. That's why the company never had a strike in 21 years, he contends.

"We were talking face to face for three years — not just the day of the negotiations. This is a human thing. These guys are acting like robots who don't talk, who don't schmooze, who don't have a beer together, who don't hang out. It's wrong."

Welch also stressed the importance of schmoozing in a post for LinkedIn , co-bylined with his wife, Suzy.

Schmoozing "early and often" is key, they write. "You can't suddenly burst out of your office to build relationships when you hear rumbles of trouble from down below, and it's certainly too late by the time a crisis flares. No, schmoozing has to be what you do all the time as a leader; it has to be a massive part of your job."

The goal is to build trust and transparency, they noted.

But instead of building trust and transparency, Congressional leaders are becoming increasingly acrimonious. In the latest example of bad blood, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, a coward, according to Politico.

Reid, speaking at a Senate Democratic luncheon, was talking about Boehner's support for federal healthcare contributions from lawmakers and their staff. Reid's relationship with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., has also deteriorated, as Democrats believe McConnell is too preoccupied with his re-election to be effective, Politico reports.

Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., think Boehner is more concerned about keeping is post has House speaker than reaching an agreement. Republican leaders think Reid helped cause the shutdown to help his party win elections next year.

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