The Corner

Business Replies to Obama

The United States has tried the largest stimulus in its peacetime history, with record $5 trillion borrowing in Obama’s first three years. Yet unemployment is much higher than when he entered office. The more he talks of stimulating the economy — with subsidies to “green” industries, government take-over of private enterprise, massive annual deficits and federal hiring, cash for clunkers, etc. — the less the private sector seems to hire or invest.

Why should this be so, given the recovery trajectories that have historically followed recessions? Some causes of these doldrums are psychological in nature. Those who have saved money and in theory could invest are scared off by uncertainty over new federalized health-care costs, by massive government spending that must be paid back and will cause higher interest rates, and by all the talk of new regulation. Nor are they comforted by Obama’s promiscuous talk about “fat-cat” bankers, his suspicion of those making over $250,000, the curbing of new oil and gas leases, the chest-thumping about BP, the Chrysler creditor mess, and the efforts to shut down a new Boeing plant. When a Van Jones was  in charge of encouraging green job growth, the symbolism is not lost on the guy trying to keep a paving company going.

The list could go on but, in short, hundreds of thousands of employers have sized up this quite extraordinary administration and concluded that it does not particularly like those who make over $200–250K per year, and does not appreciate or even know much about private employers. And thus the business community has collectively decided to sit tight, keep quiet, and store up cash until this bunch in the White House leaves.

Words have consequences, and as cute as it has been for the president to talk glibly of limb-lopping doctors and Vegas-junketeering CEOs these last few years, his message finally got through. Yet the objects of his scorn will have their say, too. And so now the job creating community that makes America work is replying, in its stasis, that it likes Barack Obama about as much as he likes them.

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