In a luncheon speech delivered last week to the Economic Club of Washington, the chief executive of Verizon said the president and the Democrats are pushing tax hikes, policy and regulatory actions that threaten to "harm our ability ... to grow private-sector jobs in the U.S."
"In our judgment, we have reached a point where the negative effects of these policies are simply too significant to ignore," he said. "By reaching into virtually every sector of economic life, government is injecting uncertainty into the marketplace and making it harder to raise capital and create new businesses."
The Business Roundtable, a power lobby in Washington, has long worked both sides of the aisle, making compromises with Democrats that they often came to regret. Seidenberg's speech has broken that alliance.
The last straw in their relationship with Obama, say Roundtable officials, was the Democrats' financial regulation bill that would slap new taxes on multi-national corporations and insert new regulations to intrude into boardroom elections. Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, one of four Republicans to vote for the bill, has also come to regret that vote, but too late. He learned later that the final version of the bill emerging from a House-Senate conference committee would slap fees (i.e. taxes) on financial corporations with more than $50 billion in assets and hedge funds with more than $10 billion. What this means, Brown said in a statement, "is that these costs would be passed onto consumers in the form of higher bank, ATM and credit card fees and put a strain on lending at the worst possible time for our economy."
Democrats had bought Brown's support with an exemption that will allow insurance and mutual fund firms -- major companies in his state -- to continue trading on their own in financial markets, and for banks to invest their capital in private equity and hedge funds.
But this 2,000-page bill is fraught with many other regulations and potential rule-making that will make it a great deal harder and more costly for businesses to invest, innovate and expand. It is one more turn of the screw by the Obama administration to tighten the federal government's grip on the private sector.
That, plus an unprecedented mountain of debt, is creating fear and uncertainty in the business community and financial markets who are starved for the kind of venture capital that is a prerequisite for risk taking, expansion and new job creation.
Clearly what Obama is doing now isn't working. Why isn't this page one news?
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