Obama Wages Misguided War on U.S. Business

Friday, 12 Feb 2010 08:45 AM

By Jon Friedman

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It's all well and good for President Barack Obama to kick Wall Street's butt in public. The investment bankers who helped plunge America into financial chaos deserve to be taken to Ronald Reagan's proverbial woodshed, all right.

But President Obama is playing a dangerous game by lumping in all of corporate America. That's one crowded woodshed, you know.

What's more, it's unfair to imply that the country's economic mess has been caused by the entire business world.

It hasn't, of course.

The president's assertions are bad for business, which, taking the lesson one step further, hurts the country as a whole. These kinds of charges make the prospect of a genuine economic recovery seem more remote by the day.

Business is an easy target. Hollywood has been cashing in by making movies showing business executives as bad guys for years.

You want to arouse sympathy for a cause? Just paint the business types as the villains. It works every time.

The president is mixing politics with good government. It's shrewd politics to attack Wall Street in the midst of a recession. It's bad government, though, to pound companies which are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy.

Obama has to walk a tightrope here, of course. He has had a rough first year, what with his healthcare program looking at times like a national pinata. Plus, the nation is desperate for the White House to find ways to create jobs and many citizens feel that the president has let them down.

Prominent CEOs have urged the president to restrict his criticism of business to the pinstripe Wall Street crowd, which makes sense and only seems fair.
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Let's hope he listens to them.

Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. Click here for Jon's latest column.

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