COMMENTARY | President Barack Obama has done much to combat accusations that his administration is anti-business. He’s made three titans of American commerce central pillars of his recovery plan, but, for whatever reason, corporate America hasn’t returned the favor.
The president has shown overwhelming support for General Electric, Boeing, and JPMorgan during his tenure, even embracing them as key elements in his plan for economic recovery, but the love hasn’t always been mutual, according to the Washington Post.
These firms were well taken care of by federal stimulus funding and policy decisions aimed at aiding the private sector, yet their leaders continue to pound President Obama with criticism over what they and Republican lawmakers feel are burdensome regulations and anti-business rhetoric from the president.
Each firm supported Obama in 2008, but in an election that will be won and lost on the economy, their support has shifted. The precipitous swing poses a key election question: Do the upper echelons of American business believe President Obama is truly as anti-business as his GOP rivals claim; or do they long for the deregulated financial climate that brought the country and the world to the brink of an actual fiscal cliff? Given their track records, my money’s on the latter.
GE has been a huge beneficiary of President Obama’s commitment to developing domestic clean energy; he left JPMorgan virtually untouched after the 2008 financial meltdown; and his expansion of the Export-Import Bank is a big reason why American-made Boeing jets are being sold en masse around the world. Despite these and other efforts, they are still trying to brand the president as anti-business.
The head of JPMorgan has spent millions lobbying against the Dodd-Frank financial regulation overhauls, one of Obama’s signature domestic achievements. Boeing’s chief was so outraged that the National Labor Relations Board prevented the opening of a non-union plant in South Carolina that he’s since called for more “sensitivity” from the White House to the needs of business. GE’s CEO chairs the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, but he and his employees are giving four times more money to Mitt Romney than they are to President Obama.
All three are executive members of the Business Roundtable — a lobby group of CEOs from the top U.S. companies — which has often lashed out at the president for his economic policies. In the first post-Citizens United election, donations as high as eight figures have been handed out from firms like these according to theNew York Times, with the bulk going towards Republican campaigns. Meanwhile, slashing taxes and regulations for so-called “jobmakers” have become entrenched GOP talking points.
No secret, sinister “Illuminati” plot probably is in the works, but only extreme naiveté sees no connection between politicians who advocate economic deregulation, attracting wealthy campaign donors who stand to profit from a return to George W. Bush-era economics. However, even the most naive would have trouble looking at President Obama’s record and believing he’s the anti-business, free-enterprise killer Republicans have tried to make him.