President Obama is widely considered to be pivoting to a business-friendly approach, which pundits say means adopting more centrist policies and liberals fear means capitulating to corporate scum. Not to worry, The New Republic's Noam Scheiber writes: big business is getting played.
Sure, Obama pleased the business world when he hired ex-banker Bill Daley as his chief of staff, but at the same time he appointed the Gene Sperling to head the National Economic Council. It's Sperling, with his "center-left bona fides," who'll have the greater say in policy. Then, Obama said he'd review all federal regulations to weed out bad rules. Businessland cheered. But the "real story," Scheiber writes, "was how little substantive ground Obama was giving." For example: No changes to regulations put in place by health care or financial regulatory reform--it's all gonna be small potatoes. Finally, Obama tapped GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt to lead the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Applause from Businessland again. But that panel of outside economic advisors is a replacement for the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which was marginalized. Immelt isn't likely to be very influential in that position.
How was big business duped? Scheiber says that corporate America's two complaints--that Obama was fostering economic uncertainty and that he wasn't reverential enough to business--became fused into one in the business world's mind. So Obama merely had to deal with the second criticism--by sending the political equivalent of chocolates and flowers--to smooth over the first.