The Washington Post’s Zachary Goldfarb complains that corporate America has failed to show sufficient gratitude to its friend Barack Obama:
President Obama has repeatedly embraced three titans of American commerce, General Electric, Boeing and JPMorgan Chase, showering their chief executives with praise and adopting policies that benefit the companies. . . Yet these companies — from the C-suite to the rank and file — have shown little enthusiasm for the president. Top executives have repeatedly criticized his rhetoric and his policies or have declined to support some of his most significant proposals. Employees, in a contrast to 2008, have scaled back financial support for Obama’s campaign.
The head of Boeing, for example, did not take kindly to efforts by the National Labor Relations Board, spearheaded by an Obama appointee, to stop Boeing from establishing a plant in South Carolina, an unprecedented government intrusion into the right of business to locate its operations. Go figure.
Similarly, the life-long Democrat in charge of JPMorgan was not amused by onerous and intrusive provisions of the Dodd-Frank legislation that regulates banks to an unprecedented degree. Obviously, the man has no sense of humor. It’s a wonder he isn’t a Republican.
Somehow, moreover, neither these two executives nor perhaps even GE’s Jeffrey Immelt appreciate Obama’s portrayal of businessmen as undeserving of their success and too greedy to wish to pay their fair share (i.e., even more) taxes. Astonishing.
And that great mass of new environmental regulation and the government’s virtual takeover of the health insurance sector; what’s not to love about that?
The real mystery, of course, is the extent of the seduction, in the first instance, of so many business leaders by a politician who at best doesn’t get capitalism and probably actively dislikes it.
The mystery can be solved, I suspect, by recognizing that many big business leaders aren’t super fond of capitalism either, at least not true capitalism. The capitalism they prefer is of the crony variety. They flirted with Obama because they thought he might be a willing crony, and the president flirted back with gestures, some of them substanial, indicating that he would play that part.
But given Obama’s true beliefs and loyalties, this act was unsustainable over the long haul. At heart, Obama is not a crony capitalist, he is an anti-capitalist. And, though America’s big business leaders tend to be slow learners, three and a half years is a long time. They aren’t that slow.