Conservative Political Commentary

...usually with an attempt at historical and economic context

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is Obama Anti-Business? You Have To Ask?

The White House has been involved in an effort to refute claims that the President and his administration are anti-business. Their attempts to counter this idea are not convincing, in view of the fact that Mr. Obama has been emphatically pro-big-government and anti-big-and-small-business for lo these many years.

Just recall his campaign speeches where he and Mrs. Obama repeatedly compared the “corporate world” very unfavorably to the “public service” world of government and non-profits. Consider Michelle Obama’s words as reported by American Spectator:


“We left corporate America, which is a lot of what we're asking young people to do,” Mrs. Obama told a group of women in Zanesville, Ohio. “Don't go into corporate America. You know, become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers. Be a nurse. Those are the careers that we need, and we're encouraging young people to do that. But if you make that choice, as we did, to move out of money-making industry into the helping industry, then your salaries respond.” [1]


So this and other speeches illustrate the Obamas’ personal anti-business prejudice. This is brought out further in policies and policy recommendations from the White House. For instance, Obama suggested that student loans be forgiven after twenty years, and after ten years for people going into “public service.” Curious, considering that government workers usually have higher pay and better job security than their private-sector counterparts. [2]

Obama and his Administration are serious practicing anti-capitalists:


Before you take the White House's sudden conversion [trying to counter the idea that they are anti-business] at face value, let's recall that Obama's Cabinet choices had the lowest percentage of private sector appointees in modern history. This is an administration of community activists, ivory tower academics, trust fund babies, and NGOers. Almost all of whom are socialized to be anti-business. [3]

While the President gives lip service to the idea that government wants business to succeed, there are several important and obvious things that he and his advisers must know are hindering our economy. First, the element of uncertainty. Some banks and businesses are sitting on large amounts of cash, which could be used to expand and hire, but isn’t, because of such things as the Obamacare law, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, and the threat of cap-and-tax plus the impending financial regulatory changes, and perhaps VAT. All these thing are likely to be detrimental and very costly to business, and until things clear up, there won’t be much of a recovery. The Administration knows this well, but doesn’t care. They want these fascist programs in place above all other considerations.

Voters are beginning to realize this. They are suffering the effects of near-Depression-level unemployment rates and a looming double dip recession. Meanwhile, the White House is working on ways to tax everyone more and more, play the race card at every opportunity, make everyone as dependent as possible on government by taking away their ability to earn and save, while telling them how much salt they can have on their foods and how much CO-2 they can emit. The cumulative effect of this massive boatload of government misfeasance will come back to haunt the Democrats in November. As Clinton said, “It’s the economy, stupid!” And, of course a few other issues like the Constitution and liberty.

From Politico:

[Obama] aides also take the business backlash seriously as both a political and substantive problem. A lack of business confidence, they fear, may inhibit the recovery. [White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel has warned colleagues of this spring’s “G factor”—a convergence of bad news from the Gulf Coast oil spill, Greece’s financial problems, Germany’s agitating for fiscal austerity at a time when demand in Europe’s economy remains weak, and a new season of political instability in Gaza—has spooked many business leaders at a time when they were otherwise ready to hire and invest. [4]


As though Obama has the right responses to these things:

Oil spill – Obama makes a bad situation worse by shutting down thousands of drilling rigs and idling thousands of workers. Meanwhile foreign drilling operations in the Gulf continue as usual. One spill among thousands of wells does not justify shutting them all down.

Greece – The President is on board with the European Central Bank and IMF bailout of Greece, and at the same time leading America down the same path: massive unpayable debt, big pay and benefits for government unions, and general fiscal irresponsibility. The Administration seems to have taken to heart Keynes’ statement, “In the long run, we’re all dead,” having adopted a devil-may-care attitude about debt and our future, albeit trying to gain some cover with his Debt Commission, which will eventually be used to try to force the VAT on America.

Germany agitating for fiscal austerity – Those rascals, just when, Obama thinks, they should be spending more and more. How dare they try to even look like they’re concerned about the ballooning debt? The nerve! If they’ve observed our “stimulus” at all, they should know that it has done much harm and no good. Their results would be the same.

Gaza – Obama’s rude treatment of Israel doesn’t help the situation. Nor does putting millions of dollars in the hands of Hamas.

The Heritage Foundation’s Morning Bell blog quotes Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg’s complaint that the Administration has injected so much uncertainty into the marketplace that it’s difficult to raise capital and start new businesses, and General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s reported remark that “business did not like the U.S. President [Obama] and the president did not like business.” [5]

Under President Obama, that [“runaway train”] intervention [in the marketplace] 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 may 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.” [6]

But the Administration is not “anti-business” when they can threaten and arm-twist businesses into cutting special deals giving the government more control, Businesses want to be in a good position with the government, and sometimes feel they must go along or suffer punishment. It should be axiomatic that most economic abuses from the private sector, other than plain criminal activity, involve collusion with government. This can also be said of labor unions. To a large extent, unions are collecting political payoffs from the Obama Administration in the form of legislation giving them more power than they would have in a free-market environment.

We can say that Obama is anti-business, which he is, but he is mostly anti-free-market. He’s OK with business as long as he’s calling the shots, whether through ownership or regulation. The business environment he likes is akin to fascist corporatism, which seeks to get all industries working to benefit the state (i.e., in harmony with the state’s great program), whether or not the government takes title to them. In the name of dealing with financial crises and creating jobs, he has supported government interference and manipulation in the markets that has not helped with jobs, nor with finances. Obama’s policies have damaged the economy (as could have been – and was – predicted), but have supported his fascist-socialist vision.

Rush Limbaugh said:


To claim to be pro-growth while simultaneously working to overturn a court order that reverses your moratorium on drilling in the Gulf, to claim to be pro-growth while simultaneously refusing to extend the Bush tax cuts, that is carefully calculated anti-growth behavior. What we have here is carefully structured, calculated anti-growth policies. Not the accidental mistakes of some poor, overmatched, befuddled young man who for the first time is encountering reality to go along with his flawed theory. Anybody with a brain knows there can't be real growth if you shut down oil production in the Gulf of Mexico and if you start raising taxes on everything that speaks, walks, or moves -- and then add new regulations to punish people on top of that.… [7]


To which I would add: If you don’t know whether Obama is anti-business or not, just read the news. It’s not hard to tell.


[1] Ralph R. Reiland, “Obama’s Anti-Business Prejudice,” 02/16/2010. American Spectator.


[2] Ibid.

[3] Mike Myers, “Is Obama Anti-Business?” 07/08/2010, Professor Bainbridge.


[4] Ben White, “W.H. works to flip anti-business rep,” 07/08/2010, Politico.


[5] Mike Brownfield, “Morning Bell: Anti-Business Obama,” 07/09/2010, The Heritage Foundation.


[6] Ibid.

[7] Rush Limbaugh, radio transcript, “Regime Claim: We’re Pro-Business,” 07/09/2010, RushLimbaugh.com.

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