NASHVILLE — The CEO of a Chattanooga-based online retailer has met with President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss the impact on businesses of the partial government shutdown and uncertainty over the looming debt ceiling deadline.
T.J. Gentle, who runs SmartFurniture.com, said he told the president Friday that a six-week debt limit extension proposed by House Republicans would be "great to get the panic out of the air on the risk of default," but would only renew debate and uncertainty among consumers during the holiday season.
"Consumer confidence tends to plummet right around the time these negotiations are happening and for them to be going on right at the height of the shopping season would really be devastating to the retail industry," he said.
Gentle said he argued that the debt-ceiling discussion should be delayed until sometime after the fourth quarter.
Gentle, who described himself as a political independent and a moderate, was among a group of entrepreneurs and executives invited to speak with the president about the effects of the budget battles in Washington.
"Being able to provide straightforward business answers that don't have a political bias is sometimes useful," said Gentle, who said while he voted for the president, he also voted for U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, both Republicans from Chattanooga.
SmartFurniture.com was founded in 2001. The company gives customers the ability to customize their furniture orders online.