The head of a Christian business network said President Obama’s address at the Chamber of Commerce shows he has little understanding of businesses’ economic struggles.
Don Barefoot, president of the Christian business network C12, said Obama’s call for businesses to use their reserves to hire workers is misguided. Obama is essentially asking business owners to spend more money in order to fix the economy and lower the jobless rate, he said.
But business owners who are surviving the current economic environment are unlikely to follow the president’s advice, he noted.
“People were listening politely, but they weren’t buying it,” Barefoot told The Christian Post Tuesday.
Obama, in an address Monday, urged the business community to revive the economy by creating more jobs.
“Ask what you can do to hire American workers, to support the American economy, and to invest in this nation," he told the crowd.
Obama advised the chamber members to tap into the $1.69 trillion the nation’s businesses have listed on their balance sheets to create positions for Americans struggling to get jobs.
Recent reports show that the percentage of people receiving unemployment money has dropped slightly. However, the nation’s unemployment rate still stands at over 9 percent since the beginning of winter last year.
In light of the high unemployment rate, the president has turned his attention to small businesses and jobs. Obama reauthorized a negotiated tax bill last year that included a controversial tax cut for wealthy Americans and business owners. He also added some businessmen to his staff.
Obama replaced former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel with former Chamber of Commerce board member Bill Daley. He also created an economic advisory panel for creating jobs. Jeffrey Immelt, the General Electric chief executive officer, has been named head of the panel.
Despite the president’s efforts, Barefoot said Obama “doesn’t understand business and wants to regulate business.”
The C12 network membership includes about 700 businesses.
Barefoot said many of the C12 member businesses are family-owned. The businesses are largely mid-sized and serve in several industries including marketing, contracting, technology and food service.
The businesses turn to C12 for Christ-centered business advice and fellowship. C12, in turn, offers businesses guidance on servant leadership and how to treat customers with humility while leading a strong business.
Of late, many members have turned to C12 with questions such as “What do you do when the cash flow dries up?” and “How do we survive?”
“Christian businesses are the last businesses to want to fire anybody,” stated Barefoot.
These businesses have survived the economic downturn by tightening their cash flow and cutting debt, he said. Barefoot commends those practices as stemming from the Bible.
Christian businesses want to be able to hire, the C12 president said. However, they want to do it in a way that allows them to pay bills and be productive, not just hiring “10 people to do the work of two people.”
Barefoot said Christian businesses that survive the economic downturn will likely be the last ones to hire because they don’t want to offer potential employees the “false promise” of work.
“If you just keep people on your payroll [for the sake of keeping employees on the payroll], they are not learning,” he said.
Barefoot suggests that Obama work on the things that hamper businesses if he wants to help them.
Government regulations, frivolous lawsuits and a tricky tax code are like a storm that is too hard for business owners to navigate through to prosperity, said Barefoot. In particular, he is concerned with government regulations. There is a “logjam” of state and federal regulations that often intersect and conflict with each other, he pointed out.
As a result, business owners are “keeping their heads down” and waiting for it all to blow over.
In his remarks to the Chamber of Commerce, Obama justified regulation by contending it is necessary for food and water.
“Regulations that have to do with health and safety issues … those things are fine,” Barefoot agreed.
However, he asserted that the law of supply and demand would work much better if the government would just get out of the way.