Chamber of Commerce Vs. Obama

For a President with such a calm and cool demeanor, it may seem surprising that a book titled The Roots of Obama’s Rage is number four on the New York Times best Seller list.

The book focuses on how Barrack Obama was imprinted with strong anticolonialist feelings as a result in-part of his grandfather being tortured by British soldiers in Kenya.

While this post is not meant as a book review – many business leaders I speak with hear the President’s policies and especially his speeches and feel he is against business people. At least seven out of ten managers feel this way in the discussions I have had recently.

In the past, people who complain to me about how terrible the business environment has become under this President do not want to go on the record because they don’t want to be accused of being racist or against workers or other trumped up accusations by the media.

But last weekend things may have changed and I sense more people are comfortable sharing the feelings they have been keeping close to the vest. What happened? President Obama went after the US Chamber of Commerce and accused them of taking foreign money which they used to run advertising.

As Time Magazine – an ardent supporter of Obama and his policies explains, the President seems to have made the accusation up. Here is the specific wording:

He wanted to remind voters that a powerful arm of corporate America is determined to derail some of the biggest elements of his domestic agenda. But he was also desperate to find some issue — even a contrived one — to inspire his cranky liberal base and avert a wipeout that could wreck the remainder of his term.

More from the article seems to show the administration has no facts but is accusing the Chamber of wrongdoing because they disagree with them:

CBS News’ Bob Schieffer pressed White House aide David Axelrod on whether he had evidence the chamber was spending significant amounts of foreign money on campaigns, Axelrod replied, “Do you have any evidence that it’s not?” Schieffer then asked if a shaky charge of foreign influence three weeks before the election was the best he could do.

The Chamber of Commerce has been responsible for helping millions of small businesses in the US and has even helped TMC in the past. It is one of the most important organizations supporting jobs in the country and to have anyone in our government go after it with trumped up charges is the equivalent of the White House urinating on workers and the companies that hire them.

If the White House can level fact-less charges against, doctors, insurance companies, oil companies, people who fly to Vegas on business and now the Chamber of Commerce, who is next. It could be anyone. People who live in New York or people who drive SUVs.

Ken Langone the founder of Home Depot has been on CNBC frequently over the years and he constantly explains he could not build a company which grew to employ over 300,000 workers with the current and proposed government regulations in place.

And according to voters, the biggest problem the country faces is the poor economy and the need to create millions of jobs.

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece he goes further and details why the business environment is so terrible and why so many are jobless, underemployed or afraid of losing their job.

Here are excerpts:

Your U.S. attorney in New York, Preet Bahrara, compares investment firms to Mexican drug cartels and says he wants the power to wiretap Wall Street when he sees fit. And you drew guffaws of approving laughter with your car-wreck metaphor, recently telling a crowd that those who differ with your approach are “standing up on the road, sipping a Slurpee” while you are “shoveling” and “sweating” to fix the broken-down jalopy of state.

That short-sighted wavering—between condescending encouragement one day and hostile disparagement the next—creates uncertainty that, as any investor could tell you, causes economic paralysis. That’s because no one can tell what to expect next.

If we tried to start Home Depot today, under the kind of onerous regulatory controls that you have advocated, it’s a stone cold certainty that our business would never get off the ground, much less thrive. Rules against providing stock options would have prevented us from incentivizing worthy employees in the start-up phase—never mind the incredibly high cost of regulatory compliance overall and mandatory health insurance. Still worse are the ever-rapacious trial lawyers.

Meantime, you seem obsessed with repealing tax cuts for “millionaires and billionaires.” Contrary to what you might assume, I didn’t start with any advantages and neither did most of the successful people I know. I am the grandson of immigrants who came to this country seeking basic economic and personal liberty. My parents worked tirelessly to build on that opportunity. My first job was as a day laborer on the construction of the Long Island Expressway more than 50 years ago. The wealth that was created by my investments wasn’t put into a giant swimming pool as so many elected demagogues seem to imagine. Instead it benefited our employees, their families and our community at large. I stand behind no one in my enthusiasm and dedication to improving our society and especially our health care. It’s worth adding that it makes little sense to send Treasury checks to high net-worth people in the form of Social Security. That includes you, me and scores of members of Congress. Why not cut through that red tape, Mr. President, and apply a basic means test to that program? Just make sure that money actually reduces federal spending and isn’t simply shifted elsewhere. I guarantee you that many millionaires and billionaires will gladly forgo it—as my wife and I already do when we forward those checks each month to charity.

When George H.W. Bush was President he casually mentioned he didn’t like broccoli and almost immediately broccoli sales tanked.

And this simple concept is what is lost on the mainstream media when listening to speeches the President gives and comments he makes. A simple statement or demonization of an industry can substantially alter behavior.

And it is this very power of the Presidency which scares the heck out of many of the people I know who own businesses and/or hire workers. For whatever reason, Obama exudes the idea that businesspeople are evil and capitalism is a plague.

While the above comment may be in-dispute by some, what is not in dispute is wealth redistribution is counter to capitalist values and the President is on record repeatedly saying and acting to protect redistribution at the expense of capitalist ideals and free markets.

One of the other voices countering the President’s unfounded accusations has been Glenn Beck who asked for the largest fundraising day ever for the Chamber and as a result, one hour later they broke their all-time record and crashed their servers.

Whether you are on the left or right, it is worth remembering the United States was founded with a Constitution guaranteeing free speech without the fear of being demonized publicly by the most powerful person on the planet.

Regardless of which party is in power, as Americans we have the responsibility to protect our freedoms and to send a message when our political leaders overstep their bounds.

If you agree, or you just want to support an organization dedicated to helping businesses grow so they can hire more workers you may want to drop by the US Chamber of Commerce website and make a donation.

In a related post, Ex-GE CEO Jack Welch goes into more detail on how Obama’s policies are hurting the economy. 

Update: 10/28/2010 – Ken Langone discusses the article above on CNBC this morning in the first video. He speaks a bit about government Vs. private jobs in the second video:

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