It looks like the Obama spin machine is at it again, this time launching a concerted effort to rebut reports this week that President Barack Obama is anti-business. But given Obama’s record of stoking government intervention in the private sector and creating an environment of uncertainty poisonous to business growth, hiring and expansion, it’s no wonder the President is branded with an anti-business scarlet letter.
The storyline began in The Washington Post, where columnist Fareed Zakaria endeavored to find out why America’s 500 largest nonfinancial companies are sitting on $1.8 trillion in cash, rather than spending it on expansion (which would mean new jobs). Business leaders told Zakaria that it comes down to economic uncertainty surrounding new laws, regulations and taxes; the expansion of federal agencies’ authority; and the unknown implications of Obamacare, financial reform and cap-and-trade. And the kicker? Zakaria notes that most of them had voted for Obama yet all of them now believe he is “at his core, anti-business.”
Others joined the chorus, too. Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg said, “By reaching into virtually every sector of economic life, government is injecting uncertainty into the marketplace and making it harder to raise capital and create new businesses.” And then there’s Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric, who reportedly said of Obama, “business did not like the U.S. president and the president did not like business.” The only surprise here should be how long it’s taken business leaders to speak out about Washington’s runaway train intervention in the marketplace, all in the name of creating new jobs.
Under President Obama, that intervention began with an $862 billion stimulus, and it was joined by a failed Cash for Clunkers program, a government takeover of the domestic auto industry, a bailout of Fannie and Freddie that might hit $1 trillion, a visceral attack on private sector compensation, a government takeover of health care and, now, financial regulation reform which is said to be riddled with unintended consequences. What next? Cap-and-trade hangs heavily on the horizon, as does the prospect of a value added tax, which Heritage’s J.D. Foster says will “recast the nation into a full state of dependency on Washington.”
And what has all of this produced? The economy has lost 2.3 million jobs since President Obama signed his stimulus bill, leaving him 7.4 million jobs short of what he promised the American economy would support by 2010. Is it any wonder corporate America is shaking in its boots?
There are things Congress and the President could do to encourage businesses to grow, expand and create jobs. Heritage’s James Sherk writes:
“Increased federal spending will not spur the private-sector investment and risk-taking necessary to create jobs and reduce unemployment. Congress should instead reduce government spending to free up funds for private investment while committing to not passing any measures — such as card-check, cap and trade, or the health care mandates — that would make creating new jobs more expensive.”
Instead, though, it looks like the Obama administration is trying to convince businesses that the President is on their side. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said this week:
“Now, this president understands deeply that governments don’t create jobs, businesses create jobs. And our job as government is to try to make sure we’re creating the conditions that allow businesses to prosper so they can hire people back, get this economy going again.”
In reality, this President has done the exact opposite. He has attempted to use government spending to create jobs, failed miserably, and has only succeeded in creating an environment where businesses — the real job creators — are afraid to put America back to work.