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Obama's Rhetoric Is Freaking American Corporations Out

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By Kevin Fayle on May 15, 2009 3:00 PM

Some of what President Obama has been saying recently has American corporations a little bit on edge, according to the Associated Press.

In the past few weeks, Obama has singled out credit card companies for what he characterized as "dishonest" business practices, especially those around rate increases.  The President also issued a stinging rebuke to Chrysler investors who refused to go along with the government's restructuring plan prior to the automaker's bankruptcy.  He also attacked tax benefits for companies that leave profits overseas, calling the companies "well-heeled interests."

Some see these verbal assaults as an indication that the president is exploiting populist anger over the faltering economy to his political advantage.

"It is traditional class-warfare rhetoric," said Jade West, a lobbyist for the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. "It's a little bit frightening."

Business representatives fear that these rhetorical flourishes signal an intent to keep business interests away from the decisionmaking process, and have pressed Obama's aides to grant them more access.

Obama seems to enjoy a certain amount of impunity for his statements, though.  After all, when he called out the Chrysler investors, they eventually agreed to get behind the restructuring plan.  And any counterattack by business interests on the President doesn't go over very well with the public. 

"Every time we test language that criticized the president by name, the response was negative, even among Republicans," wrote GOP strategist Frank Luntz.

Obama needs businesses to succeed in order to turn the economy around, so he's likely to give them considerable input, but they'll always be around as an easy target when he needs a scapegoat for the public.

That's just politics.

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