Pro-Jobs? Tell Me Another One

The Obama administration says it’s “pro-jobs,” and wants American businesses to see them as friendly and willing to help them grow and expand. And they don’t seem to understand why they aren’t believed.

That’s because most businesses learn — often the hard way — to put less stock in what someone says, and what they do. And what the Obama administration does puts the lie to that sentiment.

Take, for example, Boeing’s plan to build a new plant in South Carolina. After they sunk billions into a new plant there, bringing thousands of good jobs to that state, the Obama appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (including one appointed without Congressional “advice and consent”) ruled they couldn’t do it because it would be threatening union jobs in Washington state.

Which was complete and utter BS. Boeing had no intentions of shifting work out of Washington; not a single union job would have been lost. The South Carolina plant would have been an expansion. The real point was that those new jobs would not be union jobs. The NLRB ruled, in effect, that Boeing was obligated to give those new jobs to union members, and not union members.

Plus, South Carolina hasn’t the most Obama-friendly state, and needs to be punished.

The real fun part is that the NLRB ruling only affects Boeing’s domestic operations. If, say, they choose to start building planes in some place like China, then the NLRB would be powerless to stop them. Boeing would say that they tried to keep those jobs here in the US, but the Obama administration wouldn’t let them.

And then there’s the case of Forest Laboratories. The pharmaceutical firm ran afoul of the laws regarding prescription drugs, and was punished with a hefty fine. And then the FDA decided to ratchet it up: they added that if Forest wanted to continue selling to Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA, they’d have to fire their CEO.

Now, that’s within the law. The FDA has that discretion. But it’s one of the biggest guns in their arsenal, only for use in extreme cases. And this one was hardly such a case.

Forest acknowledged that it had marketed two of its new drugs, the antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro, as suitable for juveniles before the FDA gave its approval for that use. The approval did come, so there was no harm. Further, Howard Solomon, the CEO in question, had pushed Forest into the antidepressant field after seeing how depression had tormented his own son.

Oh, make no mistake. Forest wasn’t motivated by pure altruism. Those two drugs have been exceedingly profitable for them. But apparently they are also quite successful — a case of “doing well by doing good.”

Forest admitted they had erred, and paid a $313 million fine. But there was no evidence that Solomon was part of or even aware of the violation of the law. But that doesn’t matter — an example had to be made of the pharmaceutical industry, and the government essentially “firing” Solomon sends the right message: don’t mess with us, don’t cross with us, don’t even think of causing problems for us in the future — such as, say, with ObamaCare.

There are plenty of other examples out there. For example, look how the Obama administration is talking about addressing skyrocketing gas prices — more taxes and fewer “subsidies” for oil companies, while maintaining the “permitorium” on new offshore drilling. How exactly that will convince the oil companies to cut the price of gas escapes me, but that’s what the declared intention is.

Here’s the message to the Obama administration: if you want to be seen as “pro-business” and “pro-jobs,” you might want to cut back on the attacks on business just a bit. It might help.

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