Free Markets, Free People

The Obama administration? Anti-business? Surely you jest …

Ben White at Politico tells us:

Obama has been happy to be seen by voters as cracking down on Wall Street but those efforts have had an unintended result: feeding a sense that the president and his party are indifferent or even actively hostile toward big business, whether those businesses are Silicon Valley tech companies, Midwestern manufacturers or Main Street small businesses.

And it is more than just politics: Obama’s aides believe confidence in the general direction of White House policy has an effect on the willingness of corporations to hire, invest and push the economy toward a more solid recovery.

We’ve all heard about the $1.8 trillion that companies and corporations have saved while they sit on the side-lines refusing to invest or hire. We’ve seen the likes of Mort Zuckerman declare that the policies and attitude of the administration are decidedly "anti-business". And we’ve seen little or no evidence that anything the government has done has, in fact, spurred economic recovery.

So – what’s the administration’s answer? A public relations campaign where they essentially tell us things have happened we know haven’t, take credit for things they had little to do with and essentially try to spin their way out of the "anti-business" label.

Or, “business as usual”:

So the White House has launched a campaign to help instill that confidence, highlighted by Obama’s remarks on Wednesday stressing his commitment to lifting trade barriers as a way to spur economic growth. That was followed by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s interview on CNBC’s “Kudlow Report” last night — following his spot on PBS’ “NewsHour” on Tuesday. Obama talked up the economy in Missouri Thursday as well.

In a Thursday interview, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel argued that rather than recoiling against Obama, business leaders should be grateful for his support on at least a half-dozen counts: his advocacy of greater international trade and education reform open markets despite union skepticism; his rejection of calls from some quarters to nationalize banks during the financial meltdown; the rescue of the automobile industry; the fact that the overhaul of health care preserved the private delivery system; the fact that billions in the stimulus package benefited business with lucrative new contracts, and that financial regulation reform will take away the uncertainty that existed with a broken, pre-crash regulatory apparatus.

But you see, businesses know all of that and they aren’t “grateful”, they’re alarmed.  Not only that, they don’t see private banks and financial institutions as the sole problem in the financial meltdown – but they do see government trying to pretend it was all Wall Street and greedy corporations, while Freddie and Fannie have become half a trillion dollar financial sink holes that politicians don’t want to talk about.

They also understand that the Bush tax cuts are expiring, new health care laws and taxes are pending, new and onerous regulations are in the offing and the lame duck Congress will most likely try to push through some version of cap-and-trade.  Add to that failing states like Illinois and California and the probability of higher taxes all the way around.

And then there’s the possibility of a double-dip recession.

Why wouldn’t business be sitting on their money given the “rest of the story” that the administration conveniently leaves out of their pitch?

This is a crew that has supreme confidence in their ability to propagandize anything and get away with it.  And why shouldn’t they – look who is sitting in the White House.  You’d have to believe if you can sell an empty suit to a majority of the nation, you can probably sell anything.



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11 Responses to The Obama administration? Anti-business? Surely you jest …

  • About that $1.8 trillion that companies and corporations have on the sidelines ..
    Think for a moment, exactly where is that $1.8 trillion ?  I mean there is no corporate mattress to stuff it in, so it’s got to be out there somewhere.
    Most likely, it’s mostly in T-bills, so that $1.8 trillion is the only thing keeping the country from insolvency.  If private industry ramped up, interest rates would have to go up too, as the Treasury would have to pay more to get capital to replace that corporate money.
    The most stupid thing anybody could do (and I don’t put it pass some Democrats to try) is to try to tax that money.

  • I’m sure there’s a joke in here about Obama’s economic plans vs the psychic octopus…..but I just can’t put the pieces together

  • I caught Geithner on with Kudlow a few nights back, and he looked scared. Scared. No longer the smooth master of the universe.

    As for Rahm Emanuel, well, even before the Stimulus told us what we needed to know about these people, Obama signaled the whole deal when he picked Emanuel as his chief-off-staff right after the election. He was telling us he wanted an aggressively malignant administration, and sure enough that is what he has given us.

    • I’ve listened to Tim Geithner on C-SPAN etc. and frankly, I’m convinced the White House ignores this guy most of the time.  I get the feeling that he is their foil which they use to defend themselves against total incompetency on economic matters, but they think he sounds too much like Wall Street so he is marginalized.  He is their economic “lightning rod”

      • You’re probably close to the truth. He’s definitely not an inner-circle guy. Has probably outlived his usefulness and knows it. His defense of the health care ruin was weak and spiritless. Maybe he’s out by September.

        • I say Obama does a “house cleaning” after the election in an effort to make it look like he “heard the people” but it will all be window dressing.   I say Geithner goes then … along with”Ken” Salazar who will be the “fall guy” for the Administration in regard to the Gulf disaster which should be winding down then.
          The only real question is whether Obama will throw Holder “under the bus” before the Republican House investigates the “hell out of” the DOJ.  I say they figure they will get investigated “no matter” so they will keep Holder till he can be used to “take the stench” with him after DOJ is revealed to be “rotting from the inside.”

  • Corporations not hoarding cash

    Over the past couple of weeks, a lot of people have been talking about how corporations are sitting on $1.8 trillion in cash reserves and that if we could just get them to feel more confident, we could unleash a massive private-sector stimulus. The question, of course, was how to do that.
    But Barry Ritholtz presents some compelling evidence that today’s reserves aren’t anything out of the ordinary. Rather, they’re the continuation of a long-term trend toward businesses hoarding money.

    I love this logic, businesses are not hoarding because they have been hoarding all along.
    Next, we will find out that the “rich” aren’t really “rich” because they have been “rich” all along.  I could live with that .. anyway to end “class warfare” is welcome.  But please, don’t extend this logic to “serial killers.”