Obama on business: Ignorance or arrogance?

(Centennial Fellow) What’s more frustrating about President Obama – his ignorance of how difficult it is to make a profit in business or his arrogance that there’s so little he doesn’t know?

Here’s a man with less business experience than a third-grader with a lemonade stand and who has said that during his one, brief private-sector job he felt “like a spy behind enemy lines.”

You need not connect many dots to conclude that his attitude toward America’s businessmen and women is “dismissive, even derisive,” to quote from Obama’s 2009 Apologizing for America Tour.

Obama treats America’s job creators like inconsequential punching bags. His recent comment that government is more responsible for a business’ success than hard work, ingenuity or intelligence smacks of someone who – unlike, say, Henry Ford or Steve Jobs – achieved his success not because he’s especially talented or works harder than anyone else but because he’s a smooth talker and knows the right people.

“If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own,” Obama said of the business world. “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

When was the last time “somebody else” built your business, did your job for you or “made that happen” for your benefit? Unless that somebody else was a business partner, family member or employer, the answer is almost certainly, “Never!”

What the President fails to appreciate is that government provided the very same roads, bridges, education and public safety for people whose business endeavors failed – perhaps because they weren’t as smart or innovative or hard-working as their competition.

In America, individuals matter; they routinely are the difference between success and failure or between excellence and mediocrity. Obama either doesn’t know this or doesn’t much like it.

There’s no “I” in government. Government programs treat everyone as a member of a group and transform individuals into faceless statistics for convenient managing by bureaucrats.

For Obama, the measure of success isn’t a growing economy but a growing government. How else to explain Obama telling reporters last month that “the private sector is doing fine … [b]ut where we are seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government”?

And why might that be, Mr. President? Perhaps because government relies on tax revenues because, unlike the private sector, government doesn’t produce anything that anyone purchases willingly.

When he later attempted to “clarify” his remarks, he said only that “the economy is not doing fine.” He never retracted his assessment of the private sector’s health.

This isn’t an aberration; it’s Obamanomics 101.

In 2009 as he pushed for nearly $1 trillion in borrowed, spent and wasted “stimulus,” Obama said, “Only government can break the vicious cycles that are crippling our economy.”

Not only is government incapable of breaking the business cycle; government policy is often to blame for creating market distortions that produce even bigger bubbles and busts.

Obama backed cap-and-trade energy regulations that, he had previously admitted, would make energy prices “skyrocket.” Somehow America’s employers and manufacturers were expected to simply absorb these skyrocketing costs without cutting jobs or hiking prices. In Obamanomics, profit — like success — just happens.

The President still defends ObamaCare as a cost-savings measure despite evidence that it will increase costs and limit choices for employers, for families and for government budgets. That’s yet another reason why employers are reluctant to bring on new hires when they can’t reasonably anticipate how much ObamaCare will add to the cost of each employee.

Undeterred by nearly four years of failure, Obama continues these extravagant pronouncements as if simply passing through his lips will create an alternate universe where his wildest economic fantasies actually do come true.

It’s hard to imagine why anyone who’s run a business – or worked for one – will give him another four years to try.


Mark Hillman served as Colorado senate majority leader and state treasurer. He is now a Centennial Institute Fellow. To read more or comment, go to www.MarkHillman.com.

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