Steve Wynn, Bernie Marcus Give Voice to Business Frustration

Jack Bouroudjian
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Posted: Jul 23, 2011 12:01 AM

Last Monday, during his company’s quarterly earnings conference call, Steve Wynn, CEO of Wynn Resorts, said what a lot of people in the business community have been thinking for the last two-plus years.

“I’m afraid to do anything in the current political environment in the United States,” he said. “Those of us who have business opportunities and the capital to do it are going to sit in fear of the president.”

He didn’t stop there. “I’m saying it bluntly,” he continued. “This administration is the greatest wet blanket to business and progress and job creation in my lifetime.”

And with that, Steve Wynn became the voice of the business community’s frustration under Obama’s anti-capitalist regime.

Yesterday Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus echoed Wynn, telling IBD that the government is the biggest impediment to job growth in the country.

"Having built a small business into a big one," said Marcus "I can tell you that today the impediments that the government imposes are impossible to deal with. Home Depot would never have succeeded if we'd tried to start it today. Every day you see rules and regulations from a group of Washington bureaucrats who know nothing about running a business. And I mean every day. It's become stifling."  

As someone who runs several small businesses, I’m well aware of the scorched-earth policy that my fellow Chicagoan has adopted. His dogmatic embrace of over-regulation, over-taxation and wealth redistribution has not only made me rethink the way I run my companies, it’s proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that he’s a socialist prosperity killer of historic proportions.

But when Steve Wynn, the sitting CEO of one of the most successful corporations in the country, makes statements like these, it brings the discussion to a whole new level. It tells me that when it comes to job creation—the single most important driver of economic growth—there’s an even bigger disconnect between the business community and Washington than even the most optimistic among us may have imagined.

And Steve Wynn is a guy who knows a thing or two about creating jobs. It’s estimated that, either directly or indirectly, Wynn is responsible for the creation of 150,000 jobs in Las Vegas alone.  Think about how many families and children and lives those jobs support. Even if you’re not a fan of gambling, you have to at least give the man credit for doing his part to grow the economy.

What’s most telling, however, is that Wynn doesn’t have a political ax to grind. Had someone like Donald Trump made comments like these, it wouldn’t have the same resonance because he’s perceived to be political (among other things). But the perception of Wynn is that he is, by and large, apolitical. The only skin he has in the game is that of a businessman. He’s even been a vocal booster of Sen. Harry Reid, someone I consider to be a ranking member the president’s henchmen.

The reality is, no matter which side of the aisle you sit on, Steve Wynn is right. Barack Obama has positioned himself as an enemy of the business community, and in doing so, he has become the enemy of economic growth. Those of us who lived through the Reagan era watched the way freeing up seed capital led to job creation, technology transfer and economic growth. And yet, just last week, the president used the phrase, “job-killing tax cuts” in a news conference. Unbelievable.

It’s clear from his past experience and present policies that our president has no idea what it takes to create a job. But Wynn absolutely does. Later in his conference call, Wynn turned up the volume on his criticism of my fellow Chicagoan. “I’m telling you that the business community in this country is frightened to death of the weird political philosophy of the president of the United States,” he said. “And until he’s gone, everybody’s going to be sitting on their thumbs.”

Marcus said much the same thing: "I'm not sure Obama would understand anything that I'd say, because he's never really worked a day outside the political or legal area. He doesn't know how to make a payroll, he doesn't understand the problems businesses face."

Unfortunately for the economy, Wynn and Marcus will be sitting on more than just their thumbs. Wynn's 2011 second-quarter earnings were up 59% from 2010. Thanks to the hostile environment in which Wynn and the rest of the business community have been forced into, he’ll probably end up sitting on a lot of that cash, too. 

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