Is the President Anti-Business?


He doesn’t think so. BusinessWeek recently sat down with President Obama and got his take on his relationship with the business community. Very interesting discussion and I recommend you read it in its entirety:

BusinessWeek: A lot of business leaders consider you to be antibusiness. I was struck when I attended the Aspen Institute Ideas Festival. [Council of Economic Advisers member] Austan Goolsbee was speaking, and he hit a fairly hostile audience. These are wealthy, fairly progressive older people who had tended to support you, but they seemed very upset about corporate taxes, individual taxes, card check, all sorts of things you’re doing that they perceived as not helpful to them. What can you say to those people?

Pres. Obama: Let’s look at the record. I’ve been in office six months. So far my only tax policy has been to cut taxes for 95% of working people. I haven’t signed a bill that’s raised taxes yet. To the extent that we have put in place policies, they’ve all been directed at helping businesses. A number of those who think we’re antibusiness seem to forget that it was just three or four months ago when, at great political expense, we yanked them out of the fire. And they still—at least if they’re in the financial sector—are enjoying a whole bunch of government guarantees that are propping up their business models. So it’s hard for me not to be a little skeptical when I hear that somehow we’ve been antibusiness.

BusinessWeek: But you’re aware of that perception?

Pres. Obama: Well, here’s what I think. To the extent that I can identify any aspects of this that make any sense, one is that, at the height of the AIG (AIG) debacle, I used pretty tough language in terms of folks paying themselves bonuses at a time when they were given big taxpayer bailouts. I continue to believe—and this is not antibusiness, this is common sense—that if you’ve presided over an enormous meltdown that has resulted in about $10 trillion worth of wealth being lost, that you might want to be a little self-reflective and perhaps change your business goal. And when I see Wall Street not doing that, it tells me not only that they have forgotten the recent past, but that they are putting the country’s economy at further risk. One of the things I’m worried about is, having had to step in in extraordinary ways, we now have even more potential for moral hazard, where financial institutions think to themselves, "We can continue to take extraordinary risks and pay ourselves extraordinarily high salaries or bonuses because we know that we are too big to fail." I think that’s dangerous for the economy and for business. And so that would be one example.

What are your thoughts? Are his critics in the business community too hard on him — or not hard enough?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *