Sow Uncertainty, Reap Recession

By July 5, 2010Economy

Fareed Zakaria, a Washington Post columnist, talked to top business executives on a non-attributed basis for a column, “Obama’s CEO problem — and ours“:

One CEO told me, “Almost every agency we deal with has announced some expansion of its authority, which naturally makes me concerned about what’s in store for us for the future.” Another pointed out that between the health-care bill, financial reform and possibly cap-and-trade, his company had lawyers working day and night to figure out the implications of all these new regulations. Lobbyists have been delighted by all this activity. “[Obama] exaggerates our power, but he increases demand for our services,” superlobbyist Tony Podesta told the New York Times.

Most of the business leaders I spoke to had voted for Barack Obama. They still admire him. Those who had met him thought he was unusually smart. But all think he is, at his core, anti-business. When I asked for specifics, they pointed to the fact that Obama has no business executives in his Cabinet, that he rarely consults with CEOs (except for photo ops), that he has almost no private-sector experience, that he’s made clear he thinks government and nonprofit work are superior to the private sector. It all added up to a profound sense of distrust.

A serious journalist, Zakaria is also one of the arbiters of conventional media wisdom, meaning this analysis has broken out of the more conservative side of the commentariat — Michael Barone, George Will — into the mainstream. Expect to see more of this theme in the weeks ahead.

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