There is a growing perspective in corporate America that President Obama is anti-business. An increasing number business leaders are going public with their criticism of a president that is undermining America's economic recovery through his intense dislike of businesses, or arguably worse than that, through his own economic ineptitude.
Ivan Seidenberg, the chief executive of Verizon and chairman of the Business Roundtable, a grouping of some 140 top CEOs, recently accused the president of creating an "increasingly hostile environment for investment and job creation", claiming that the administration's regulatory expansion into "every sector of economic life" is making it "harder to raise capital and create new businesses." Jeff Immelt, the boss of GE, has said that the administration is not in sync with entrepreneurs. The US Chamber of Commerce, a business lobby, has complained that the Obama administration has "vilified industries". Even Dan Loeb, a former classmate of Barack Obama's and a big-time donor to Obama's election campaign has criticised the president's economic policy. Citing heavy handed government policy for stifling economic recovery Loeb's letter is a damning indictment of Obama's economic policy thus far into his presidency.
Obama has an image problem, particularly when it comes to the economy. A president who does so little to counter the idea that he dislikes business is a worryingly negligent chief executive argues The Economist. A Bloomberg survey this week found that three-quarters, 77%, of American investors believe Obama is against business. Carlos Vadillo, a fixed-income analyst at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in San Francisco, said Obama has been in a "constant war" with the banking system, using "fat-cat bankers and other misnomers to describe a business model which supports a large portion of America." The Economist is further damning of Obama on the economy: In their interviews they have lost count of the number of prominent chief executives, many of them Democrats, who complain privately that the president does not understand their trade, that he treats them merely as adornments at photocalls and uses teleprompters to talk to them; that he shows scant interest in their views on which tax cuts would persuade them to hire people; that his team is woefully short of anyone who has had to meet a payroll (there are fewer businesspeople in this White House than in any recent administration); and that regulatory uncertainty is hampering their willingness to invest."
On a personal level, Obama even portrays himself as a man who was redeemed from the sinful private sector only by becoming a community organiser. Over the years there have been endless digs at Wall Street and Big Pharma, not to mention the recent public flogging of BP with language unbecoming of a man in control of the world's largest economy. Business leaders are rightfully very weary of what Obama has done and could do in the future. The outlook is uncertain, and with uncertainty business leaders hold back - they hold back from investing, they hold back from hiring and they hold back from growing their business which is what America needs to restart the economy. Even more uncertainty surrounds Obama's fiscal policy thanks to the president's refusal to produce a credible plan to rein in the deficit. Why should any entrepreneur plough money into a new factory when he has no idea what taxes he will eventually be asked to pay? The question surrounded the extension of the Bush tax cuts still remains. These are questions that business needs answering in a businesslike way instead of by an ambiguous speech that's tough on rhetoric and short on ideas delivered from a teleprompter.
Unless Obama changes course, and changes course soon, America's economy will continue to be a Titanic taking on more and more water.