If you feel like you've heard this song from this chief executive before, it's because you have, quite often in fact. In January 2009, Obama said this in his first address to a joint session of Congress: "Now is the time to ... invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy. ... [T]he only way to fully restore America's economic strength is to make the long-term investments that will lead to new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete with the rest of the world."
Well, the "investments" recommended by Obama were made, to the tune of more than $100 billion in his economic stimulus program alone. So, if business buzzwords like "competitiveness" and "investment" -- backed by billions of tax dollars -- could create a friendly climate for American businesses, then we should be experiencing record economic growth right now. Obama used the word "investment" 14 times in the February 2009 signing ceremony of his stimulus package. But for a more accurate representation of Obama's views on business and private investment, look at the people he's hired to work for him in the White House. Take for example this gem from Obama's deputy car czar, Ron Bloom: "I don't need lenders." That's what Bloom told Chrysler's secured creditors just before Obama's Treasury Department forced them to accept the company's fire sale to Fiat via a kangaroo bankruptcy. Or how about this statement: "You don't want to kill the golden goose, but you don't want it to crap all over you, either." That comes from Jared Bernstein, Vice President Biden's chief economic adviser and a key proponent of the 2009 Obama economic stimulus program.
Officials like Bloom and Bernstein say such cavalier things because in their boss' America, business aims are subordinated to Obama's vision of government industrial policy. In that context, the word "investment" means pouring the taxpayers' money into dubious "clean energy" projects and high-speed rail boondoggles. Because there is no genuine market demand, these new "investments" will create neither wealth nor a net gain in new jobs. We know that from Obama's previous investments. The White House Council of Economic Advisers asserted, for example, in a July 2010 report that by dedicating $46 billion in stimulus money to clean energy programs and high-speed rail, they attracted another $107 billion in private investment in those areas. In other words, they lured $107 billion away from potentially productive, wealth and job-creating investments and into more expensive products and services for which there is little or no consumer demand. That's Obama's idea of good business -- forcing people to buy things they don't want (more expensive energy) and do things they don't want to do (ride trains instead of cars). This exercise in political correctness may be good for Obama's self-esteem, but it's lousy economics no matter how you look at it.