CEOs have lately been turning against Obama. They complain of anti-capitalist rhetoric and excessive egalitarian zeal, and say his policies--tax plans, TARP, the hard line on BP, healthcare reform, and more besides--are ruining the climate for new investment. In a new column for the FT, I say these complaints are mostly wrong.
Is Mr Obama an anti-business president? The idea is not groundless. Like most liberals, Mr Obama is suspicious of the profit motive, and wants the government to play a bigger role; the need for stronger regulation is a constant theme. But what did the CEOs expect of a Democratic president? Measured against what might have happened, their charges seem unfair and even absurd. They should be thanking Mr Obama for his restraint.
As he came into office, the country stood on the brink of a new Great Depression. The primary causes were private-sector incompetence and irresponsibility, compounded by lax regulation. Even if Mr Obama had been so inclined, this was no time to laud private enterprise...
Perhaps CEOs thought that the oil spill in the Gulf was a good moment for Mr Obama to praise private enterprise and defend light-touch regulation... He has done enough - and barely enough, at that - to assuage public anger. Had he done less, the populist backlash might have been worse. The truth is, in these emergencies, Mr Obama has been a friend to business