These are my thoughts as I watch President Obama this evening. I will only point to issues I believe are related to the economy, the stimulus/economic recovery/spending package, and entrepreneurship. (This is being typed as I watch the news conference)
Firstly, I find the new, Obama phraseology, ‘save or create’ and ‘create or save’ 4 million new jobs completely insane. Save? Are you kidding me? Talk about strange metrics and lowering expectations. Yeah, yeah, we saved those 2 million jobs in Detroit. Great! Nice work. That is really preparing us for the future. I don’t remember any other politician of real stature ever making this type of promise — “I will save your job!” (Note to all — only you can save your job, and not always)
Entrepreneurship is about the create part. The President is signaling he is focusing on existing firms and jobs. This is about protecting what was not creating the future.
Two, Obama is peddling pessimism. This is going to hurt him because the US public loves optimists and its not what he sold a few months back; hurting his credibility. So in effect, he has a lesser product (pessimism/doom and gloom) and through his strong sales pitch he is highlighting just how quickly he can change positions/messaging. We have such a rich entrepreneurial history because of our optimism, from our earliest arrivals to our most recent, this dark sales pitch is an uphill battle that will hurt him and his image.
Three, he mentions that only the federal government can save us (or jolt us back) at this point. Is there some kind of Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Russell Simmons, or Fred Smith currently working somewhere in DC? Are all the entrepreneurs within the government going to be unleashed now that there is $1 TRILLION to spend? Cool.
This idea that only the Federal Government can save us is heresy to an American entrepreneur. It is sad to hear this come from a US President. (I am going to check the transcripts to make sure that I heard this element correctly).
Four, Obama compared us to Japan. I studied Japan and Japanese for years (at U of M, SOAS in London, and in Japan at Kansai University outside of Osaka). I lived with a Japanese family headed by a Todai graduate, working as a salaryman at a large electronics firm. To compare these two countries in the context of macro economics based on some basic data is totally misguided.
From social and political systems, to ethnic/religious/place of birth diversity and financial market participation, Japan and America are dramatically different. Its like saying that because Albert Pujols and Joey Cora both hit .210 during the same week of July, they must be the same player throughout the season.
Five, Obama’s ‘gun to the public’s head’ threat for a trillion dollars isn’t that effective. Unfortunately for Obama, GW Bush already tried this. He got $350 billion in TARP right away and got another $350 to Obama and no one knows what happened with all that money as the markets have gone down. I don’t think the US public is gonna be fooled again. Even if Obama is much more persuasive and telegenic than Bush. The President and the Congress may push the bill through as is, but the public won’t swallow it happily.
Six, my blood pressure rises with each mention or reference to Geithner. I pay my taxes and I find his confirmation abhorrent.
Seven, he sounds very political/partisan to me. I am currently an independent and have voted for Congressional, Presidential, and Mayoral Candidates of both parties over the past 18 years. What I mean here is this doesn’t seem presidential; it doesn’t seem like the right way to speak in a presidential news conference, especially his first one. The tone of the performance sounds too small for the office of the presidency.
Eight, he is full on blaming the financial markets for this problem in response to a question about the the consumer’s liability (massive debt) in our current economic situation. This is wrong and more importantly plays into the most basic political posturing available to any politician (btw, this blame Wall Street/US Financial Markets is being employed abroad as well — from London to Beijing).
I am not going to nitpick on his specific points on whether and what the federal government should be spending taxpayer dollars, it is the general idea of whether the federal government is in fact the only hope for the US. With that core premise, I very much disagree and am confident that most entrepreneurs would agree with me.
The speech does not instill much hope in me. Of course, I will continue my work and build my firm and know that I will be paying for the largesse which Obama spoke of tonite with any entrepreneurial profits I earn over the next 10 years or so.
Sorry to get political, but this is on my television and the direction of the economy is concerning to me. I only commented on the issues related to the stimulus, the economy and the entrepreneur’s role in it, not on issues such as foreign policy, Alex Rodriguez, and Helen Thomas ‘inaugural’ questions.