Saturday, October 15, 2011

What Democrats Say Behind Obamas Back is Astonishing



As Obama bites off the hand that feeds his success, there will be an eventual backlash. Even though big business and Wall Street contributed to the Obama campaign since 2008, the president continues to vilify them as the boogie man. Now, it has come to the point that big business is letting their feelings be known to Obama. It is no secret that fundraising efforts has been lackluster for the president. Since the American people has lost confidence in the president, Obama is alienating the only friends he has left.

(WSJ) 'It's as if he doesn't like people," says real-estate mogul and New York Daily News owner Mortimer Zuckerman of the president of the United States. Barack Obama doesn't seem to care for individuals, elaborates Mr. Zuckerman, though the president enjoys addressing millions of them on television.

The Boston Properties CEO is trying to understand why Mr. Obama has made little effort to build relationships on Capitol Hill or negotiate a bipartisan economic plan. A longtime supporter of the Democratic Party, Mr. Zuckerman wrote in these pages two months ago that the entire business community was "pleading for some kind of adult supervision" in Washington and "desperate for strong leadership." Writing soon after the historic downgrade of U.S. Treasury debt by Standard & Poor's, he wrote, "I long for a triple-A president to run a triple-A country."

His words struck a chord. When I visit Mr. Zuckerman this week in his midtown Manhattan office, he reports that three people approached him at dinner the previous evening to discuss his August op-ed. Among business executives who supported Barack Obama in 2008, he says, "there is enormously widespread anxiety over the political leadership of the country." Mr. Zuckerman reports that among Democrats, "The sense is that the policies of this government have failed. . . . What they say about [Mr. Obama] when he's not in the room, so to speak, is astonishing."

We are sitting on the 18th floor of a skyscraper the day after protesters have marched on the homes of other Manhattan billionaires. It may seem odd that most of the targeted rich people had nothing to do with creating the financial crisis. But as Mr. Zuckerman ponders the Occupy Wall Street movement, he concludes that "the door to it was opened by the Obama administration, going after the 'millionaires and billionaires' as if everybody is a millionaire and a billionaire and they didn't earn it. . . . To fan that flame of populist anger I think is very divisive and very dangerous for this country."

Mr. Zuckerman says that when you also consider the labor-force participation rate and the so-called "birth-death series" that measures business starts and failures, the real U.S. unemployment rate is now 20%. His voice rising with equal parts anger and sadness, he exclaims, "That's not America!"

At that time he supported Mr. Obama's call for heavy spending on infrastructure. "But if you look at the make-up of the stimulus program," says Mr. Zuckerman, "roughly half of it went to state and local municipalities, which is in effect to the municipal unions which are at the core of the Democratic Party." He adds that "the Republicans understood this" and it diminished the chances for bipartisan legislating.

The only solution Mr. Zuckerman sees now to juice the economy "is to broaden the tax base and simplify and lower tax [rates]. To me that will be as close to revenue-neutral as you're going to have so it isn't going to be seen as a budget buster." He views GOP candidate Herman Cain's "9-9-9 plan" as a "little bit simple-minded," but he says that a reform that closes loopholes and reduces compliance costs will stimulate both business and consumer spending.

"Democracy does not work without the right leadership," he says later, "and you can't play politics." The smile inspired by Reagan memories is gone now and Mr. Zuckerman is pounding his circular conference table. "The country has got to come to the conclusion at some point that what you're doing is not just because of an ideology or politics but for the interests of the country."