Shocking: CEOs think President Obama is clueless on economic matters

They aren’t the only ones.  Via MSN’s Money page:

Is fear of President Barack Obama one reason we’re stuck with sluggish economic growth?

That’s the message the CEOs of several major companies are sending out.

In unusually vitriolic attacks on a sitting president, including references to communist Russia and Adolf Hitler, CEOs have complained they can’t predict what Obama will do next — and how his new regulations and taxes might hit their companies.

The result is a bunker mentality that has CEOs holding back — and the economy growing more slowly as a result.

“We don’t know what the latest great idea from Obama will be. Therefore, we are hunkering down,” Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers told me last week, echoing public comments over summer from CEOs at companies such as Intel and Verizon.

He said that because of Obama, CEOs are focusing on their core businesses and hiring less, to control costs and risks. “CEOs are uncertain, so they don’t want to have the liability of adding a lot of employees,” Rodgers said.

There’s certainly a lot of uncertainty out there as we approach November’s midterm elections. Next year’s tax rules are in limbo. The effects of health care and financial reform have yet to be seen. And then there’s what many perceive as an anti-CEO message in Obama’s rhetoric — aimed mostly at chiefs of big banks and health insurers but also at hunkered-down execs in general.


Consider the following attacks on Obama and the Democrats in recent months:

  • Intel CEO Paul Otellini, referring to Obama and the Democrats, said in an August speech to the Technology Policy Institute’s Aspen Forum, “I think this group does not understand what it takes to create jobs.”
  • Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, in a June speech at the Economic Club of Washington, accused Obama of creating an “increasingly hostile environment for investment and job creation.”
  • Cypress Semiconductor’s Rodgers told me last week that he had “started out happy with Obama because we had broken through the white male barrier” and made “a step forward for equality.” But Rodgers added: “I have become deeply disappointed with him. It is amateur hour in Washington. The guy hasn’t got a clue about the economy, how jobs are created, how wealth is created. It reminds me of the Jimmy Carter years, only worse.”
  • Blackstone Group CEO Steven Schwarzman seemed to compare the Obama administration to Hitler by saying in a recent private meeting that Washington’s push to increase taxes on private-equity firms is war, “like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939,” according to Newsweek.

Observers say such overt attacks are rare. “I don’t remember corporate leaders speaking out this vehemently in the past, said Gary Shilling of A. Gary Shilling & Co., which offers investment advice. “People in these positions don’t get there unless they know how to keep their mouths shut when they need to.”

Make sure to read the whole thing as it’s a fairly balanced piece on the issue of the economic policies of this administration and the reaction to them by America’s business movers and shakers.

Some people would read what the CEOs are saying and think the same thing President Obama has said out loud the last few years: These “fat cats” are just bitter that they can’t invest like crazy, hoard all their profits, and “stiff the little guy.”  There may be a few like that, but I don’t buy the liberal Democrat mentality that a majority of businesses small and large are out to “stiff the little guy.” The goal of ANYONE who goes into business is to make money – the more the better, and most businesses know that in order to be successful & profitable (not to mention respected in the business community), you’ve got to keep your employees happy, too – and that includes offering a fair wage for services rendered and a nice benefit package which includes paid time off, health, dental, and life insurance coverage, and 401K options.  Any company that doesn’t offer at least some of that will find it difficult to be competitive when it comes to recruiting valuable employees to their workforce.

But what this administration has done has made many employers of companies of all sizes wary of doing any kind of major investing because, as the article notes, business owners  aren’t too keen on what they’ve seen from this administration so far when it comes to “putting people back to work” and “stimulating the economy.”  Higher taxation, stifling over-regulation, government takeovers, and mandates on health care coverage all contribute to the current hostile business environment, and I can’t say that I blame them.   If I were a business owner I, too, would be nervous about investing in this anti-business climate.   This isn’t to say that there should be no government involvement/oversight in business, but when government becomes the de facto CEO of the business community then, well, Houston, we have a serious problem.  Let’s also not forget that government – more to the point, decades of liberal Democrat meddling and ignorance helped enable the financial meltdown that started in 2007.

Business owners/CEOs pay attention to what Presidents and their economic cabinets say – and more importantly, what they do, and the message is clear here: President Obama, if you want to create jobs, please get the heck off our backs.

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