What do a guitar company, an Internet-search company, and an airplane manufacturer all have in common? Besides being three hugely successful, jobs-producing, iconic American companies, Gibson Guitar, Google and Boeing all are under threat from Uncle Sam. Of course the first part of that sentence sort of assumes the second part these days, doesn’t it?
Last week, federal agents raided Gibson Guitar factories in Nashville and Memphis in search of illegal substances. Drugs? Nope. Cuban cigars? Guess again. In fact, the agents from the Fish and Wildlife Services were looking for illegal wood. Whether their search uncovered any unlicensed cellulose is unknown, but it’s the second raid in as many years on this storied American company.
In June, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) initiated an antitrust investigation into the Internet behemoth, Google. If you’ve been following stories of this sort the last few years, you’ll know by now that the FTC uses a very strict criteria for antitrust suits:
1.) Is the target company wildly successful? Check.
2.) Are competitors jealous of this success? Check.
3.) Is there a politician in Congress willing to do the bidding of a donor/competitor and put pressure on the FTC? Check.
Last, but certainly not least, is the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) unconstitutional attack on Boeing. Earlier this year, the radically pro-labor NLRB blocked Boeing from opening a brand-new factory in South Carolina to build its Dreamliner airplanes, supposedly because Boeing built the facility to spite union workers in Washington. Whatever the motivation, the NLRB’s actions have left approximately 1,000 South Carolinians out of work.
Meanwhile, President Obama is scheduled to address the nation next week on his latest jobs plan. As the president and CEO of an association representing more than 2,000 companies, including Google and Gibson, I think it’s time the president and his wayward agency heads follow the age-old rule for doctors: First, do no harm. In other words, call off your regulation-happy, pro-labor attack dogs, Mr. President, who are more committed to destroying great American companies than they are in putting Americans back to work.
President Obama inherited a weak economy, it’s true. But Obama has failed to inspire any measure of business confidence by his frequent demands for higher taxes and his constant scapegoating of business. Worse than his words, however, are the actions of those the president put in charge of these regulatory agencies going after some of our crown-jewel companies.
From the NLRB to the Environmental Protection Agency, Obama-appointed ideologues have been running amok. Unless Obama asserts some leadership over these radicals, all the presidential rhetoric about jobs won’t matter. Even his new Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, famous for his business acumen, cannot seem to rein in the out-of-control appointees. The rescinding of outdated regulations recently announced – such as the welcome end of the “Fairness Doctrine” -- is more of an irrelevancy than a way to finally create some real jobs.
For instance, the EPA currently is busy enforcing regulations that would curtail the output of coal-burning power plants, affecting nearly 40 percent of all U.S. electrical production. If you missed the legislation that mandated such a cut-back, don’t worry: Congress never authorized it. The EPA action is simply another case of another agency head “reinterpreting” laws already on the books, with no concern for what it might do to U.S. job creation.
Same goes for the aforementioned NLRB. As if keeping a thousand Americans out of work wasn’t enough, the NLRB has proposed new labor rules that would all but mandate so-called “card check,” a provision so radical it couldn’t even pass a Democrat-controlled Congress.
Of course, not all the president’s appointments are bad. The appointees at the Federal Communications Commission are doing well, as they work in a bipartisan way to find new spectrum for broadband innovation and new jobs. Sadly, the FCC is the exception to the rule in the Obama administration.
Overall, this administration is a job killer, no matter how many speeches Obama gives or how many times he “pivots” to job creation. In its zealous pursuit of top American companies, the Obama Administration and its minions have one message to the true job creators: Don’t bother.
Gary Shapiro is the president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association and the author of the New York Times Bestseller, “The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream.”