Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Obama: Biting the hand that feeds him

A couple of examples don't exactly determine a trend, but they are, nonetheless, intriguing.

First there was this post by Ted Leonsis, a multimillionaire who owns three sports teams and is the vice-chairman emeritus of AOL's board. He is also a major donor to Obama both this year and in 2008. But he posted on his website how tired he is about Obama's class warfare.
Economic Success has somehow become the new boogie man; some in the Democratic party are now casting about for enemies and business leaders and anyone who has achieved success in terms of rank or fiscal success is being cast as a bad guy in a black hat. This is counter to the American Dream and is really turning off so many people that love American and basically carry our country on their back by paying taxes and by employing people and creating GDP.

This is a bad move all designed by some pollster who said this is the way to get votes during the re-election. It should be stopped. We should be healing and creating teams NOT dividing and pitting people against one another.

I know the President isn’t speaking to me specifically when he talks but many times I hear stuff and I cringe personally. As a friend told me the other day who lives in China, “Every time your President talks of late, it costs us billions in market cap and in confidence in your country and your economy.” Why do we devalue success in the US when the rest of the world is trying to emulate what we have created as an economic system?
He also has some advice for the President.
With my investments and board seats and companies that I own, I am at a leadership position in concerns that employ more than 200,000 people. We do our best to be good corporate citizens. I know in the companies that I own personally or am the largest shareholder that we support now more than 500 charities. We care. Pick some business leaders that you work with and make them heroes. Don’t demonize them. Showcase them as great Americans that care and hire and employ people. Employment is the biggest issue you will face when re-election comes. If people aren’t working, they will blame you and your administration. And since you have never worked before in a real job for a real company, you need help from people who have been there. Don’t push them away!
He has the sort of cred that Obama usually cares about. But now, just now he's noticing Obama's class warfare shtick.
I voted for our President. I have maxed out on personal donations to his re-election campaign. I forgot his campaign wants to raise $1 billion. THAT is a lot of money–money–money–money! Money still talks. It blows my mind when I am asked for money as a donation at the same time I am getting blasted as being a bad guy!

Someone needs to talk our President down off of this rhetoric about good vs. evil; about two classes and math.

Our country was founded on the premise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Is anyone happy right now with all of this?

Hit a reset button ASAP.

Rethink how to talk to businesses and sell business leaders on your plan to make America great!

Many of us want to be a part of the solution. We aren’t the problem.
I don't know what took him so long, but welcome aboard. Obama has been bashing the wealthy and promising to tax them as a question of "fairness" since he appeared on the scene. If Mr. Leonsis is just now noticing the obvious, at least he's giving some worthwhile advice. Ed Morrissey, from whom I got the link, gives Leonsis the Captain Louis Renault Award.

This morning the New York Post reports that a major "fat cat" ally of Obama, Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan who was being considered for Treasury Secretary before Obama chose the inestimable Tim Geithner, has shifted from being a donor for Obama to Mitt Romney.

The next story isn't about an Obama donor, but is still indicative of why some business leaders may be souring on the Obama administration. Muhtar Kent, the CEO of Coca Cola, let loose about how American policies are hurting our competitiveness on the global stage.
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Coca-Cola now sees the US becoming a less friendly business environment than China, its chief executive has revealed, citing political gridlock and an antiquated tax structure as reasons its home market has become less competitive.

Muhtar Kent, Coke’s chief executive, said “in many respects” it was easier doing business in China, which he likened to a well-managed company. “You have a one-stop shop in terms of the Chinese foreign investment agency and local governments are fighting for investment with each other,” he told the Financial Times.

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Mr Kent also pointed to Brazil as an example of an emerging economy that is making itself attractive to investment in ways that the US once did.

“They’re learning very fast, these countries,” he said. “In the west, we’re forgetting what really worked 20 years ago. In China and other markets around the world, you see the kind of attention to detail about how business works and how business creates employment.”

Mr Kent argued that US states did not compete enough with each other to attract businesses while Chinese provinces were clamouring to draw investment from international companies. Meanwhile, he said, China’s budget discipline and rapid economic growth made it an appealing place to set up operations.
One of his targets is the tax system that forces companies that earn money overseas to think twice about bringing those earnings back to the US for investment here.
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Mr Kent, speaking on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative conference, hit out specifically at US provisions that tax companies for repatriating cash earned overseas. Coke does not disclose how much cash it holds overseas.

“If you talk about an American company doing business in the world today with its Chinese, Russian, European or Japanese counterparts, of course we’re disadvantaged,” Mr Kent said. “A Chinese or Swiss company can do whatever its wants with those funds [earned overseas]. When we want to bring them back, we are faced with a very large tax burden.”
Mr. Kent blamed both parties and decried political gridlock. He's been relatively even-handed in his political donations, but I wonder which party he'd blame if given a truth serum when he complains about excessive business regulations and the push to tax corporations' overseas earnings. There is bipartisan support for getting rid of that tax on repatriated earnings, but can you imagine how Obama would demonize a Republican who urged lifting those taxes?

FDR spent the thirties bashing business earners and encouraging policies to regulate and tax them. Is it any surprise that they were hesitant to risk investing in building their companies and hiring more workers in that environment? And how is Obama different?