We just getting around to this one, but in yesterday’s Washington Post was an article about how corporate suits from The Business Roundtable, a group of government-cozy business executives which has supported Barack Obama from the time he started running for president to now, are whining about the president’s policies.
The chairman of the Business Roundtable, an association of top corporate executives that has been President Obama’s closest ally in the business community, accused the president and Democratic lawmakers Tuesday of creating an “increasingly hostile environment for investment and job creation.”
Ivan G. Seidenberg, chief executive of Verizon Communications, said that Democrats in Washington are pursuing tax increases, policy changes and regulatory actions that together threaten to dampen economic growth and “harm our ability . . . to grow private-sector jobs in the U.S.”
“In our judgment, we have reached a point where the negative effects of these policies are simply too significant to ignore,” Seidenberg said in a lunchtime speech to the Economic Club of Washington. “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.”
Break out the violins.
The Post article goes on to enumerate the gripes the Roundtable has with Obama – the elimination of the tax breaks for corporations to provide prescription drug benefits in the Obamacare plan (the Roundtable was alone among business groups in supporting that 2,700-page legislative abomination), Obama’s move to have the EPA regulate carbon dioxide by fiat, tax hikes on multinationals and even a new rule making it easier for shareholders to get people elected to corporate boards (which actually might be a good thing). Verizon’s Seidelberg sent along a 54-page letter with specific regulatory complaints the group has with the administration, and he’s meeting with budget director Peter Orszag about them – as though Oszag either gives a flip or has any stroke to address those concerns with one foot out of the White House door.
The reader will forgive us if we couldn’t care less about the concerns of the Business Roundtable. The old saying about what happens when you lay down with dogs is fairly appropriate. The list of companies represented on the Roundtable’s executive committee includes some of the best firms the country has to offer – Wal-Mart, Office Depot, ExxonMobil, Procter & Gamble, Dow Chemical – and some of the worst rent-seekers on the planet, like Jamie Dimon of J.P. Morgan and Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric.
This group is made up of power brokers and corporate fatcats. One thing the majority of them have in common is that few, if any, of them started the businesses they’re currently running. They’re hired-gun CEO’s, who while they might be extremely good at what they do are still used to playing with someone else’s money. And in that respect, the members of the Business Roundtable are anything but the dyed-in-the-wool right-wing conservatives the legacy media would have you think they are. Joe The Plumber or Ross Perot, they ain’t.
These guys are used to playing both sides of the fence politically. They’ll back Democrats when they think they’re going to win, and then they’ll back Republicans in the next cycle. In all likelihood most of the members of the Roundtable will be backing GOP candidates this fall, particularly now that they’ve seen the disastrous economic effects of putting Obama in office with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi running Democrat majorities in Congress.
But while conservatives ought to be accepting of the corporate campaign dollars this year and in 2012, it would be nice if conservative candidates would try not to be bought by them so easily. A free market philosophy would be helpful to many of these companies, and corporate tax cuts when America has the second-worst corporate tax burden in the industrialized world shouldn’t even be a partisan issue.
But big companies like these are like pigs in slop when it comes to burdensome regulations by Democrats in power, regardless of their griping about Obama’s overreach. To them, a few extra dollars out of petty cash to fill out more paperwork is a small price to pay for setting up barriers for competitors to enter the marketplace with a better mousetrap. They’re no particular friends to the conservative movement, and their relationship to the Republican Party is, at best, akin to a series of semi-satisfying one night stands.
A conservative resurgence to power this fall should involve a pro-business agenda – but certainly not a pro big-business agenda. That’s what Obama promised and refused to deliver.
Outside of politics and policy, however, it’s hard not to feel an intense degree of animus at a bunch of arrogant, privileged corporate bigwigs who act surprised that the Alinskyite community organizer with the worst economic record of any major presidential candidate in American history, no private-sector work experience and a resume which wouldn’t get him out of the mail room at any of their headquarters might fail to fulfill their dreams of a pro-business, centrist and competent presidency.
Just how short-sighted and stupid are these guys, anyway?