President Obama crossed the street Monday to mend fences with his frequent opponent, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Obama urged the assembled business leaders to "get in the game" by spending some of their $2 trillion in cash reserves on hiring Americans and investing in America. The federal government will do its part to grow the economy by cutting regulations, promoting trade, and streamlining taxes, Obama said, but business has a responsibility to "help America succeed," too. Is that really the job of businesses? (Watch Obama's comments)
Business is only obliged to maximize profits: This "'social responsibility of business' theme" is nothing new for Obama, says Doug Mataconis in Outside the Beltway. But he's wrong. Businesses have a responsibility to "make the biggest profits they can," period. What Obama is really asking is that they "cooperate with the government at the expense of the interests of their employers," and that's not socially responsible at all, for shareholders or the economy.
"The 'social responsibility' of business is to earn a profit"
It is in Big Business' interest to pony up: Obama's "central challenge" to the Chamber was more about reviving the middle class, says Jed Lewison in Daily Kos. It was "pretty damn good" to see him tell corporations that they share some responsibility for closing the growing wealth gap, but the truth is that it's in their interests, too. America's economic system "depends on everybody having a stake in our nation's success."
"Obama challenges Chamber to support his agenda"
Right or wrong, businesses will sit on their wallets: Obama's core message was that "businesses should part with cash and the federal government will help them make the move worthwhile," says Douglas McIntyre in 24/7 Wall Street. But his call for businesses to ramp up hiring will face "two nearly insurmountable hurdles." With productivity gains, "large firms have discovered they do not need more workers," and with credit still tight, "small ones cannot afford them."
"Obama to business: Invest no matter what the cost"