Steve Jobs found himself frustrated by President Barack Obama’s lack of resolve, but the two eventually found common ground over education reform, his new biography has revealed.
“I’m disappointed in Obama, he’s having trouble leading because he’s reluctant to offend people or piss them off,” Jobs said of the President. “Yes, that’s not a problem I ever had.”
Political deadlocks annoyed him, such as when the Republicans blocking the “Dream Act” — which Jobs said should be amended to give foreign engineering students visas to work in the United States.
“The president is very smart, but he kept explaining to us reasons why things can’t get done,” Jobs said. “It infuriates me.”
Jobs said the Obama administration was not business-friendly and said it was impossible to build a factory in the United States due to regulations and unnecessary costs. Apple had 700,000 factory workers employed in China, where it was much easier to build and run a factory, Jobs said. He said Obama was “headed for a one-term presidency” if the administration didn’t improve.
Jobs also said the American education system was “hopelessly antiquated” and crippled by teachers’ unions. Apple’s factories, for example, needed 30,000 skilled engineers — something the U.S. education system was not producing. He suggested the President completely overhaul the system and proposed an 11-month school year with days that lasted until 6 p.m.
“You can’t find that many in America to hire,” he said. “If you could educate these engineers, we could move more manufacturing plants here.”
Obama apparently took the advice to heart. He would tell his aides “we’ve got to find ways to train those 30,000 manufacturing engineers that Jobs told us about.” The two spoke over the phone a few times after their first meeting in October, and Jobs even offered to help create Obama’s political ads for his 2012 campaign. Jobs said at the time he wanted to do for Obama what the “It’s morning in America” campaign did for Reagan’s re-election in 1984.
Obama had not personally been in contact with Jobs or Apple until that meeting. Jobs’ first tango with the administration came in the form of a congratulatory call from Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, on the eve after Jobs unveiled the iPad.
Jobs initially refused to meet Obama, saying he did not want to be a token interview that Obama could “check off” of his list. Jobs insisted that Obama personally invite him to a meeting, but finally relented after his son Reed persuaded him.
When asked about the Obama administration’s involvement in the uprisings that took place during the Arab Spring earlier this year, Jobs said, “You’re fucked if you do and you’re fucked if you don’t.”