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An ‘As Caterpillar Goes, America Goes’ Update

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By Doug Powers  •  March 26, 2011 06:58 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

In 2009, President Obama pitched the porkulus plan at a Caterpillar plant in the company’s home state of Illinois, claiming it would allow the company to rehire thousands of laid off workers (which Caterpillar’s CEO said wasn’t the case). Obama also said “you can measure America’s bottom line by looking at Caterpillar’s bottom line.”

Just a couple of months after that, Caterpillar posted its first quarterly net loss in 16 years — and America’s bottom line was off and running.

Fast forward the tape to this week. Caterpillar is now saying the company may be forced to pull out of The One’s home base altogether — a hopenchangus-interruptus of huge proportions — in order to to seek more welcoming business climes:

Caterpillar Inc., suggesting that it could shift jobs out of Illinois, is prodding its home state to cut government spending and roll back tax increases.

Doug Oberhelman, chief executive officer of the giant Peoria, Ill.-based maker of construction and mining equipment, protested against the state’s tax and spending policies in a March 21 letter to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat who took office in January 2009.

In the letter, first reported Friday by the Lee Enterprises newspaper chain and provided to The Wall Street Journal Saturday, Mr. Oberhelman said other states have stepped up their efforts to lure Caterpillar.

Indiana has been smelling blood in the economic waters of Illinois for some time now, and Oberhelman’s email box is no doubt overflowing with serious offers from other states trying to hand a dozen roses and a box of chocolates to a shrugging Atlas.

If Caterpillar’s CEO is looking for a massive tax break for his company, forget about lobbying the state of Illinois — the first thing he should be doing is positioning himself to someday replace Jeffrey Immelt as the head of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

You know, I thought the economy of Illinois would be doing a little better due to the recent Wisconsin fleebagger stimulus their hotel industry just received, but obviously that didn’t make enough of a difference.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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