Please, President Obama, Stop Attacking Business Owners

Gary Shapiro

10/24/2011 2:21:00 PM - Gary Shapiro

Dear Mr. President,

Right now American’s top concern in the short term is jobs. Yet by action and by word, your administration keeps putting up barriers to job creation.

Despite your well-publicized “pivot” to address the unemployment rate seriously, your administration’s recent proposals on the matter still ignore the needs of job creators. In other words, you need to look at job creation from the point of view of someone who actually creates jobs.

For example, take your administration’s expansion of regulations governing U.S. businesses. In this tough economy, every American business is facing higher costs and lower profits. They don’t need more artificial expenses handed down by government regulators. Not only must companies comply with the regulations of the massive health care reform law, but they also have to comply with the ambiguous new rules in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. And as Speaker Boehner indicated in his address to the Economic Club of Washington recently, your administration has a large number of rules in the works that each will cost businesses at least $100 million.

Since you came to office, it seems that every federal agency has been taken over by activists more committed to pursuing an ideological agenda than helping create a corporate climate conducive to jobs. Perhaps that’s because your administration has so few officials with real experience running a business. They don’t appreciate the high costs their regulations are placing on business owners.

Nor has your advocacy of the union agenda been helpful. The radical actions of the National Labor Relations Board have all but instituted so-called “card check,” rushed union elections, mandated workplace notices and tried to shut down Boeing’s new factory in South Carolina. Taken together, these policies discourage American business expansion.

Leadership needs to start at the top, and already in just the last week you issued two proposals that will further harm business investment and job creation.

On Monday, September 19, you issued your vision for long term deficit reduction. It uses fictitious costs savings and makes little effort to rein in entitlements or the budget deficit. In an editorial, the Washington Post declares your deficit reduction claims “misleading” full of “bogus” savings and “more of a campaign document.”

Rather than showcase a desire to help business owners, you reserved your harshest words for those who have been successful in business. Think of the message this sends to the large and small business owners in America. It’s not your proposals to raise taxes that so discourages them (in fact, many in the business world could live with the Bush tax cuts expiring); it is your scapegoating of successful entrepreneurs and your politically motivated class warfare that does so.

Then on Tuesday, September 20, you dropped another bomb on the business community by proposing that career government executives be barred from attending industry events. I’ll admit that this proposal hits very close to home. As you may know, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) puts on the largest business event in the nation, the International CES, which hosts 150,000 business and government leaders, including 30,000 from outside the United States. Your proposal would only impede our efforts – and the efforts of other conferences and expos – to attract these leaders.

It is already an embarrassing state of affairs when U.S. political appointees must stand outside our cocktail parties and dinners while their foreign government counterparts are enjoying our hospitality. Extending this ban to the scores of career government officials who need to see the latest trends in business and technology, witness how rules affect innovation, and meet their international counterparts is not conducive to good business practice.

Government involvement in these events is important because these are occasions where those in the public and private sector can share their thoughts on the state of the industry. International CES and other U.S. shows like it are the only way many American entrepreneurs and smaller companies can reach international buyers, investors, media, and potential partners.

You are the first U.S. president in CEA history who hasn’t even written a welcoming letter to our international guests, despite our invitations to your office to do so. By comparison, our international competition in Germany is not only fully supported by the German government, but Chancellor Angela Merkel herself attends the annual customer dinner.

American business is in a global competition. When our own government views business as the enemy, puts up onerous obstacles and restricts interaction, we are further harming the U.S. economy’s competitive advantage.

Please, Mr. President, reverse course, stop the scapegoating and embrace those who create the jobs we so badly need.