Rick Perry fizzles, Bernie Marcus sizzles at Atlanta event
Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke in Atlanta today, and my AJC colleague Aaron Gould-Sheinin has the details. I noted some of Perry’s lines on my Twitter feed. I’d call them his applause lines, except that he got little more than polite applause. (There were standing ovations as he took and left the stage, but they seemed to be pro forma.)
In general, I got the impression Perry wasn’t very well briefed about his audience — the event was sponsored by the free-market-oriented, but nonpartisan, Georgia Public Policy Foundation, and the crowd not only was fairly wonky but included more than a few fans of Mitt Romney. Hence, Perry’s thinly veiled attacks on Romney didn’t go over terribly well. Perry’s talk was also billed as a policy discussion about what he had done in Texas, but it sounded a lot more like a stump speech. He took no questions from the audience or the press.
In all, I’m not sure it was a very successful outing for the Texan.
On the other hand, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus gave a spirited address about the Obama administration and the burdens Washington is putting on business. Here’s a flavor:
- On over-regulation: “You try to open up [something simple like] a barber shop, anywhere in the United States, and see what you have to go through. … It’s like walking through a mine field.”
- On having a “very, very negative outlook” about the future: “I don’t see the future the way I did in 1978 when we opened Home Depot. … If we had the same opportunity…today, the Home Depot would open with four stores, and maybe we’d have eight” eventually.
- On the differences between 1978 and today: First: “Regulations, regulations, regulations, regulations…from every single department in this government. Every time you form another department [he mentioned Education, Energy and Commerce] every one of them is a failure. … They’re like [Bernie] Madoff, every single one of them — just more money, nothing coming out of them of value.”
- On the second difference: “trial lawyers” and the cost of litigation, which he said was once calculated to account for 25 percent of the cost of every tool sold at Home Depot: “Do you know how many times the Home Depot has been sued because a person dropped a hammer on their toes?”
- On GE’s Jeffrey Immelt, one of Obama’s advisers from the business community: “He went straight from Harvard Business School to GE. … He never went through the trauma of opening a new business.”
- On Obama: “He’s getting advice on how to be [elected] president of the United States, period. And I think that’s all he’s interested in. … He’s got to learn how to get out of his own skin. And become an American first, and a Democrat or Republican second.
- On both major political parties, both of which he blamed for such damaging regulation as Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank and Obamacare: “Damn both their houses. … They pass bills without understanding” the consequences.
You’ll be hearing more from Marcus on these topics. He’s begun an initiative called the Job Creators Alliance to speak out against government meddling with business. He said 1,000 businesses have already joined, and that he expects the total to reach 5,000 to 7,000 before next year’s election. It could be higher, he said, but “we have so many [business]people intimidated, it’s frightening.”
– By Kyle Wingfield
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