Corporate CEO’s Begin Publicly Turning On President, Academia

One of the more amazing phenomena of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign was the coalition he built between the academic Left, who he was always going to have on his side, with so many corporate high-enders. Obama and the Democrats actually pulled a larger share of corporate political donations in the 2008 cycle than the GOP did, something terribly unexpected for someone with such a left-wing background.

But two years later, that coalition has clearly been shattered. The academics might still be with the president, but Corporate America is not.

Consider, for example, the statements of Intel CEO Paul Otellini, who five days ago described the president’s economic policies and the situation they’ve created in extremely unflattering terms…

Or perhaps Home Depot CEO Bernie Marcus, who doesn’t just assail Obama but repudiates “tenured academics” in general, as so many from that class populate the administration (as opposed to people with practical experience)…

Things are so bad with respect to the president’s relations with Corporate America that even CEO’s who outspokenly supported him have trashed his economic program – like, for example, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Verizon CEO Ivan Seidelman.

Generally speaking, large companies don’t oppose government regulation such as the president has brought forth. Large companies have the money to hire lobbyists, who will work to insure the regulations harm smaller competitors more than larger ones, which protects market share and insulate large companies against their cost by allowing for price increases without a loss of that share.

Another commonly misunderstood truth about large companies is that they’re terrified of alienating potential customers, and that means they’re notoriously cautious about having their people make political statements. An additional bit of evidence of this equanimity is the fact corporate upper management types routinely “max-out” in donations to candidates of both political parties.

So when the CEO’s of those large corporations speak so harshly against the president, it’s striking. It indicates that America’s largest companies are starting to realize the environment isn’t just poisonous for the small competitors they ultimately want to keep down, but for the big boys as well. And that’s an indication of another part of the Obama coalition likely to be stripped away as this fall’s elections near.



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