Commentary Magazine


It’s OK to Say No to Obama

Business leaders, as I’ve noted, have started awakening from the dream of a productive relationship with the White House. Now, they aren’t even going through the charade of cordiality:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday rejected a request from top White House adviser Valerie Jarrett to speak at a jobs summit hosted by the business group, the latest escalation in an ongoing war between the two camps.

“We would have loved to have gone and participated. We weren’t invited. In fact we were told not to come,” Jarrett said, during an interview on Bloomberg Television.

Chamber officials said Jarrett requested that she be allowed to address their gathering, a several-hour long “Jobs for America Summit,” on Wednesday morning, a few hours before the event began. They said the program was too full to fit her in.

At the summit, Chamber President and CEO Thomas Donahue railed against President Obama’s economic policies. “Our current economic direction is not working,” Donahue said. Donahue said that Obama’s health care and financial regulation initiatives are onerous to the point that the Americans will lose freedoms unique to the country.

“Taken collectively, the regulatory activity now underway is so overwhelming and beyond anything we have ever seen, that we risk moving this country away from a government of the people to a government of regulators,” Donahue said.

Donahue balanced this by denying that Obama is anti-business, continuing the Chamber’s habit of avoiding public statements that are openly hostile to the White House. “I don’t believe the administration is anti-business. I believe the administration has a series of views of what they ought to do about social programs such as health care and environment issues,” he said.

Well, bravo! There is no rule requiring a group whose interests Obama has consistently undermined to extend an open hand to him or to afford a photo op to the very officials doing the undermining. In fact, only in Washington would it not seem like rank hypocrisy, both for the host and the guest. Now, the group may, if it wishes, open its doors with the hope that the administration might be more forthcoming. But if experience has consistently demonstrated that this is fruitless, why do it?

Donahue is also smart to go after what Obama has done rather than quibble about assigning him to a label. Obama’s anti-business moves are so extensive that to merely list them is sufficient and compelling.

Obama’s declining political standing has had a positive, immediate effect: there is a new outbreak of candor among interest groups. Establishment Jewish groups should take note. It’s fine to stand up to Obama — everyone is doing it!

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