Commentary Magazine


Time to Pipe Up

“Business Leaders Say Obama’s Policies Stifle Growth” is the headline. One is tempted to holler, “And what took them so long!?” Indeed, for some time many members of the business community have been hiding their collective heads in the sand and trying to ingratiate themselves with the business-hostile (indeed, free-market-capitalism hostile) Obama administration. Now, that they see a weakened president and the potential end of one-party rule, business leaders are piping up:

The chairman of the Business Roundtable, an association of top corporate executives that has been President Obama’s closest ally in the business community, accused the president and Democratic lawmakers Tuesday of creating an “increasingly hostile environment for investment and job creation.” Ivan G. Seidenberg, chief executive of Verizon Communications, said that Democrats in Washington are pursuing tax increases, policy changes and regulatory actions that together threaten to dampen economic growth and “harm our ability… to grow private-sector jobs in the U.S.”

Now all of this has been true of Obama’s agenda from the get-go. What is different is that the strategy of appeasing Obama, supporting his campaign, and cheering his policies has backfired. And now they are no longer cowed by Obama. Instead, they sense an opportunity to find officials more conducive to their interests. How far they have come:

Seidenberg’s remarks reflect corporate America’s growing discontent with Obama. The president has assiduously courted the nation’s top executives since taking office last year, seeking their counsel on economic policy in the wake of the recession and issuing dozens of invitations to the White House. In return, the Roundtable has generally supported the president’s policies; it was the only major business group to back Obama’s successful push for an overhaul of the health-care system.

In this there is a lesson for American Jewry. What has been gained by their strategy of appeasing Obama, supporting his campaign, and cheering his policies? Maybe it’s time for them and for the organizations that present themselves as friends of Israel to take a page from Seidenberg’s playbook: stop pulling punches, lay out the objections publicly, and make it clear that there are political consequences for ignoring their interests — and, indeed, doing great damage to them. Hey, the results can’t be any worse than what they’ve “achieved” to date. And the benefit is that they will have a real answer to the legacy question: “And what did you do to stop Obama’s anti-Israel assault?”