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Amidst the ongoing negotiations in the budget ceiling debate it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, which is all about maintaining the ongoing health of the economy itself. Two prominent businessmen, speaking independently, came to the same conclusion regarding that picture last week. Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus and hotel and casino operator Steve Wynn have both determined that the greatest impediment to job creation is the current administration, and its combination of stifling regulations and re-distributionist ambitions. Even more disturbing, both men revealed that many of America’s job creators share one other sentiment as well: they fear president Obama.
Marcus made his feelings known in an interview with Investor’s Business Daily. Asked what the single biggest impediment to job growth was today, Mr. Marcus was blunt. “The U.S. government,” he answered. “Having built a small business into a big one, 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.”
And lest anyone thinks Mr. Marcus was referring strictly to large corporations, he made it clear that he was not. “If you’re a small businessman, the only way to deal with it is to work harder, put in more hours, and let people go. When you consider that something like 70% of the American people work for small businesses, you are talking about a big economic impact,” he said. He further noted that while the president’s speeches are “wonderful,” his actual results are “incredibly bad,” and that even as the president speaks about cutting regulations, “they are now producing thousands of pages of new ones. With just ObamaCare by itself, you have a 2,000 page bill that’s probably going to end up being 150,000 pages of regulations,” warned Marcus.
With respect to the ongoing budget ceiling debate, Marcus was equally blunt. “If we don’t lower spending and if we don’t deal with paying down the debt, we are going to have to raise taxes. Even brain-dead economists understand that when you raise taxes, you cost jobs.”
Perhaps brain-dead economists do. The president? Not so much. Budget talks with House Speaker John Boehner broke down on Friday over what was described as a package of $3.5 trillion in spending cuts, coupled with $800 billion in increased tax revenue. Mr. Boehner walked away when he said the president “moved the goal posts,” by attempting to add an additional $400 billion in taxes to the deal. Taxes the speaker characterized as “nothing more than a tax hike on the American people.”
Mr. Obama countered with his now-familiar populist rhetoric, contending that such taxes were necessary to protect those “who are least able to protect themselves, who don’t have lobbyists in this town, who don’t have lawyers working on the tax code for them…working stiffs out there, ordinary folks who are struggling every day, and they know they’re getting a raw deal…because they know somehow that no matter how hard they work, they don’t seem to be able to keep up.”
No doubt Mr. Obama’s concern for “working stiffs” is genuine. Yet it would appear he has lost sight of the fact that there are more than fourteen million non-working stiffs in this country, who undoubtedly think that they too are “getting a raw deal.”
Why aren’t new jobs being created? Las Vegas businessman Steven Wynn, who calls himself a “Harry Reid supporting Democrat,” was as blunt as Bernie Marcus. Noting that there was “a host of opportunities to create tens of thousands of jobs in Las Vegas,…I could do 10,000 more myself,” he explained that he was “afraid to do anything in the current political environment in the United States” due to “a total lack of leadership from the President[.]” And like Mr. Marcus, Mr. Wynn said that “this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business, and progress and job creation in my lifetime. And I can prove it and I could spend the next 3 hours giving you examples of all of us in this market place that are frightened to death about all the new regulations, our healthcare costs escalate, regulations coming from left and right.”
Fearfulness of government animated both men to a striking degree. When Bernie Marcus was asked why more businessmen don’t speak out, he said those businessmen “are frightened to death–frightened that they will have the IRS or SEC on them. In my 50 years in business, I have never seen executives of major companies who were more intimidated by an administration,” he said. Mr. Wynn, who noted that the president “keeps making speeches about redistribution,” unabashedly echoed that sentiment. “Everybody’s afraid of the government, and there’s no need soft peddling it, it’s the truth. It is the truth. And that’s true of Democratic businessmen and Republican businessmen… I support Democrats and Republicans. And 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.”
Then Mr. Wynn zeroed in on the big picture. Until Mr. Obama leaves office, he contended, “everybody’s going to be sitting on their thumbs.”
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