NOTHING ‘REMARKABLE OR PARTICULARLY INTERESTING’ ABOUT BUSINESS COMPLAINTS…. For about a decade, corporate America shaped the business landscape — deregulation, tax breaks, easy money — to its liking. The promised prosperity never materialized, and for most of the country, it was a lost decade.
The Obama administration is trying a new approach, and as Daniel Gross noted the other day, corporate America has begun whining incessantly, exhibiting “an unseemly combination of myopia and ingratitude.”
After an eight-year slumber, the Environmental Protection Agency is again issuing regulations. Two years after an appalling financial debacle, Congress has finally moved to regulate Wall Street. But to hear our nation’s corporate chieftains tell it, it’s enough to plunge us back into recession. “We have to become an industrial powerhouse again, but you don’t do this when government and entrepreneurs are not in sync,” lamented GE CEO Jeff Immelt in a recent speech.
On July 12, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the National Federation of Independent Business held a “Jobs for America” summit. While President Obama met with CEOs at the White House, the summiteers called for — wait for it! — cutting taxes for companies, extending tax cuts for the wealthy, and opening up federal areas for resource exploration.
I was pleased to see Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner take a dismissive attitude of the complaints this week.
“Businesses always want their taxes lower and always want to live with low regulation,” Geithner said. “There is nothing remarkable, or particularly interesting frankly, that we’re in the midst of another debate, which you hear in almost any administration, with people looking for ways to help affect the outcome on the basic path of regulation and taxes.”
“Every business in America today is in a much better position than they were, not just 18 months ago, but than I think many of them expected to be at this point,” Geithner said at a breakfast with reporters hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
Geithner acknowledged that there is some uncertainty in the private sector for business, but said it is caused mainly by “deep scars” still left over from the financial crisis of late 2008.
Asked about the Business Roundtable’s 54-page memo, asking for a return to a regulatory environment more in line with the Bush era, the Treasury Secretary described it as “a long, diffuse list of familiar concerns, again reflecting nothing remarkable … in the fact that business would like to operate with fewer restrictions.”
Geithner’s received some warranted criticism of late, but on this, I like his attitude.