By Keith Calder
The Economist recently sat down with President Obama for an in-depth interview covering an array of topics on Africa, Russia, China, the American economy, and of course the Republican Party. In true form the president rarely misses an opportune moment to bash Republicans. However, this time the president reserved most of his ire for the CEOs of corporate America. His message to those who run America’s businesses: stop complaining.
In an effort to invoke a populist theme regarding his economic policy and promote a 2014 midterm message, Obama argued that his economic policies have been nothing but friendly to American business.
“I would take the complaints of the corporate community with a grain of salt… They always complain about regulation. That’s their job,” he said. “If you look at what’s happened over the last four or five years, the folks who don’t have a right to complain are the folks at the top.”
“Oftentimes, you’ll hear some hedge-fund manager say, ‘Oh, he’s just trying to stir class resentment’. No. Feel free to keep your house in the Hamptons and your corporate jet, etc. I’m not concerned about how you’re living,” Obama said.
What the president doesn’t get is that American businesses, small and large, have a legitimate gripe with the government. Owners feel they are being strangled by the president’s regulatory policies. Ask any businessman or woman and they will tell you it’s getting to the point where it is nearly impossible to start or operate a business in today’s environment.
This devastating chart from the Wall Street Journal tells the story: under Obama, more businesses close every year than open. It’s a frightening trend and it cant go on forever.
Regulatory rules from Dodd-Frank, to Obamacare and the EPA’s assault on American energy have cost the American economy jobs and economic vitality.
Since the end of the President Obama’s first term in office, over 13,000 rules have been finalized according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS). According to CRS, more “major rules,” rules with an economic impact exceeding 100 million were enacted in 2010 than in any year dating back to at least 1997.
Unnecessary regulations at the expense of American entrepreneurs not only bog down business, but impose costs that are passed on to American workers in lost jobs and lower wages and to consumer in higher prices. It’s truly a vicious cycle. American workers can’t find jobs because of regulatory excess and regulatory costs are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.
The president is correct when he says many at the top have done well under his presidency, and the stock market (fueled by easy money from the Federal Reserve) has indeed been booming. But he’s wrong that CEOs have nothing to complain about; indeed, their complaints reflect the very real and urgent concerns of millions of Americans for whom the Obama economy is just not working.