It’s not that anyone expects a President coming from the Democratic party to suddenly recognize the contribution, and necessity of business… that’s as realistic as expecting Republicans to support more government. But to see such glaring evidence of the disdain in which business is held by the current administration is discouraging to say the least.
Just recently there was a CBS piece on President Obama and his attitude toward business — and profits — that every business owner ought to see. Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard uses four simple criteria to support the idea that the President is not a friend to business — his policies, his decisions, his appointments and lastly his own words.
Appointments to fill senior White House staff or cabinet posts have come from academia, think tanks, government and the law. As for anyone who’s actually run a business… met a payroll… hired and fired… the number here is ZERO. The closest you can come to business experience in senior Obama staff members, according to Barnes, is Defense Secretary Bob Gates and Eric Shinseki, Veterans Affairs Secretary, who both served on the boards of corporations. White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel counts four years as an investment banker as part of his experience. Nor does the President himself bring any real-world business know-how, he was a lawyer, law school teacher and community organizer before his rise to the Presidency.
With the recent nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, concerns have been raised by conservatives about her anti-business track record. Two of her decisions — one involving employment discrimination and New Haven firefighters, the other a 2006 ruling in the Didden v. Village of Port Chester case — are given as evidence that she is not a friend to business. Forbes has an in depth piece that reveals a somewhat clearer, though just a bit less troubling, picture of the record.
Policies that include an announcement in early June where promises were made that recovery programs would be accelerated in response to criticism that the effects of the government backed stimulus aren’t materializing, despite the absurdly high price tag. There wasn’t anything new in the offing, nothing to encourage investment in business or to help create jobs in the private sector. To date the President’s policies have relied on more government spending and tightened regulation.
The way things have been going is cause for comment by respected thinker, judge and senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School Richard Posner who offers one of the best assessments of our current economic situation around. When it comes to the Obama administration actions he points out that, “Re-regulating banking, hauling bankers before congressional committees, passing laws tightening credit card lending, and capping bonuses all impede recovery,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “All that is for later, once the economy is back on track.”
Decisions like what’s been done to GM and Chrysler; insisting on resignations of top executives and supplying taxpayer funded subsidies that total millions. While investors are bullied and dealerships denied their rights, the United Auto Workers didn’t come out badly at all and remains largely unchanged. Another recent example of executive decisions comes from the handling of Delphi, a GM dependent auto parts maker that was to change hands without the required auction or open bidding until a judge stepped in to see that the rules were followed.
Words are the most troubling… especially since Barnes’ article points out there have been few favorable comments. One of the most insulting is the comment on doctors who order more tests for a patient because they make more money, showing what Mr. Obama termed, “a business mentality”. Obama has often referred to the time before he came to office as “an era of selfishness and greed”.
So while business people everywhere might cringe at Mr. Barnes’ observations, it’s clear we can’t ignore them. It does seem that big business, far from innocent to be sure, has become the favored whipping boy of the administration.
Mr. Obama has demonstrated many times that he has trouble trusting the free market… he’s told us right out that he thinks Americans are too caught up in money and profits… he insists he doesn’t want to meddle in business and then becomes involved in day to day operations and senior staffing choices.
And finally, there’s this from website scatterbox… Steven Silvers apt summation of where we stand:
Taxpayers are now direct stakeholders in the financial and auto industries, and are swiftly becoming the safety net by which the nation’s housing, healthcare, energy and even news media industries will be supported while they are dramatically transformed. The President of the United States is both Commander in Chief and CEO.
An unsettling state of affairs to be sure…