Barack Obama and Corporate America
How socialist is President Obama? Ezra Klein offers this analysis of his address to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
The reality is that the Obama administration's agenda has been, and continues to be, quite pro-business. He presided over TARP, the rescue of the American auto industry and a stimulus bill that the Chamber of Commerce endorsed. The administration passed a health-care law the chamber hated but that won official neutrality or support from the insurers, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors, and even the Business Roundtable, and disappointed liberals who sought a public option or a single-payer program. And as we know, corporate profits and stock prices have been the first part of the economy to return to health.In his speech, Obama recalled how FDR and business worked together to win the Second World War:
Toward the end of the 1930s, amidst depression and the looming prospect of war, President Roosevelt realized he would need to form a new partnership with business if we were going to become what he would call the “arsenal of democracy.” As you could imagine, the relationship between the president and business leaders had grown somewhat fractured over the New Deal. So Roosevelt reached out to businesses; and business leaders answered the call to serve their country. After years of fighting each other, the result was one of the most productive collaborations between the public and private sectors in American history.Obama isn't interested in CEOs taking on more charities. He wants America's biggest corporations to take the the profits they've been salting away and start investing and hiring again. For some on the right and the left, Obama and corporate America are, and should be, enemies. But if the greatest task facing the U.S. is increasing employment, then it is natural that Obama, like Roosevelt, should seek to work with the folks who have the tools and the capital to put Americans back to work.
Some, like the head of GM, hadn’t previously known the president. If anything, he had been an adversary. But he gathered his family and explained that he was going to head up what would become the War Production Board.
“This country has been good to me,” he said. “I want to pay it back.”
In the years that followed, automobile factories converted to making planes and tanks. Corset factories made grenade belts. A toy company made compasses. A pinball machine maker turned out shells. 1941 would see the greatest expansion of manufacturing in the nation’s history. And not only did this help us win the war. It led to millions of new jobs and helped produce the great American middle class.