One of the narratives of this campaign season has been the business community’s deep-seated animosity toward President Obama. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pouring millions of dollars into defeating Democrats at the polls. At every opportunity, business leaders complain that the Obama administration has treated them shabbily.
And, in a displaying of astonishing gall, even bailed-out Wall Street bankers are pouring money into defeating Democrats — despite the fact that many of those very banks would have gone under if Democrats hadn’t stuck their necks out to support The Troubled Asset Relief Program. (More Democrats supported the Bush administration program than Republicans.)
But what are corporate executives so angry about? The Obama administration has been good for them. As Politico reports, corporate profits have risen faster in this recovery than in any other period following a recession:
Profits have surged 62 percent from the start of 2009 to mid-2010, according to the Commerce Department. That is faster than any other year and a half in the Fabulous ’50s, the Go-Go ’60s or the booms under Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
Under another president, especially a Republican president, the data on corporate profits would be envied. George W. Bush, who dedicated a good deal of his presidency to tax cuts aimed at boosting business profits, probably would have loved such results. It took Bush nearly four years to post the gains that Obama has managed in less than half the time.
Both presidents were greeted with recessions when they took office and experienced the fast growth in profits that are typical right after recessions. Profits grew nearly as fast as they have recently after the terrible recession of 1981-82, but not quite.
Holtz-Eakin said that the profit growth has been driven not by revenue gains but by businesses cutting workers to boost productivity. He conceded, however, this was also the story during Bush’s “jobless recovery” and acknowledged that Obama probably did deserve some credit for stabilizing the chaotic financial system he inherited in 2009.
That’s pretty good under a president many conservatives claim is a “socialist.”