Obama keeps job; oth­ers lose theirs

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY TIM DE­VANEY

Af­ter an elec­tion cam­paign that fea­tured jobs as a cen­tral is­sue, some of the na­tion’s busi­nesses have re­sponded to Pres­i­dent Obama’s vic­tory with a se­ries of lay­off an­nounce­ments re­lated to a va­ri­ety of fac­tors in­clud­ing the New Year’s “fis­cal cliff.”

A num­ber of com­pa­nies had hoped the elec­tion of Repub­li­can Mitt Rom­ney would raise the chances of avoid­ing the cliff’s $1 tril­lion in fed­eral spend­ing cuts, half of them de­fense-re­lated, plus higher taxes from the ex­pi­ra­tion of the Ge­orge W. Bush-era tax cuts. Other fac­tors in the spate of lay­off no­tices in­cluded costs re­lated to Mr. Obama’s health care plan and en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions.

The Boe­ing Co., Groupon Inc., Ap­ple­bee’s In­ter­na­tional Inc., Papa John’s Inc. and Mur­ray En­ergy Corp. are among those that have an­nounced lay­offs or other job cuts in the days since Mr. Obama was re-elected.

“We are at one of the most chal­leng­ing yet op­por­tu­nity-rich times in our his­tory,” Boe­ing De­fense, Space & Se­cu­rity Pres­i­dent and CEO Den­nis Muilen­burg said in a state­ment that cited how “fund­ing for the U.S. Depart­ment of De­fense is un­der ex­treme pres­sure.”

In Wash­ing­ton, con­gres­sional lead­ers from both par­ties have sounded cau­tiously op­ti­mistic since Nov. 6 about reach­ing a long-term bud­get deal in the com­ing weeks that would head off the loom­ing tax in­creases and spend­ing cuts.

Sen. Bob Corker, Ten­nessee Repub­li­can, said Nov. 11 that he is hope­ful about a res­o­lu­tion.

“I think there is room. I’ve said, from Day One, the key to solv­ing this is Medi­care re­form. If we can agree to Medi­care re­form, I think the other pieces will fall in place,” Mr. Corker said in an ap­pear­ance on “Fox News Sun­day.”

Some Demo­cratic law­mak­ers and lib­eral pun­dits have sug­gested that go­ing over the “fis­cal cliff” would ben­e­fit the coun­try more over the long term — and strengthen the Democrats’ po­lit­i­cal hand in the short term. But Sen. Kent Con­rad, North Dakota Demo­crat, said those sug­ges­tions aren’t re­al­is­tic.

“I don’t know where you are hear­ing that,” he said on Fox. “You cer­tainly don’t hear that from me. I’ve spent five years try­ing to put to­gether a pack­age in a bi­par­ti­san way to get us back on a sound fis­cal course.”

Al­though Mr. Con­rad and other Democrats, in­clud­ing Mr. Obama, have em­pha­sized that rev­enue would be a key part of any com­pro­mise, Republicans have in­sisted that tax in­creases could de­rail an al­ready frag­ile econ­omy.

“A tax in­crease never cre­ated a new job in this coun­try, and what we need is eco­nomic growth,” Rep. Tom Price, Ge­or­gia Repub­li­can, said on the same Fox pro­gram. “We can in­crease rev­enue with­out in­creas­ing the tax rates on any­body in this coun­try, we can lower the rates, broaden the base, close the loop­holes … and put in place pro-growth poli­cies in en­ergy and health care and the reg­u­la­tory pol­icy and ad­dress the spend­ing.”

A Wash­ing­ton com­pro­mise on the fis­cal cliff, how­ever, was un­likely to change the out­look for some busi­ness lead­ers who al­ready have de­ter­mined that a sec­ond Obama term will be bad for the bot­tom line.

Mur­ray En­ergy CEO Robert Mur­ray blamed his com­pany’s lay­offs on Mr. Obama’s “war on coal” and pushes for clean-en­ergy man­u­fac­tur­ers, and the CEO punc­tu­ated his com­pany’s lay­offs with a seem­ingly anti-Obama prayer that he de­liv­ered to em­ploy­ees on Nov. 7.

Mr. Mur­ray, who ex­pects the U.S. coal in­dus­try to go out of busi­ness by 2030, said he was putting his com­pany into “sur­vival mode.” The Ohio-based coal com­pany is lay­ing off 102 em­ploy­ees at Utah Amer­i­can En­ergy and 54 peo­ple at Amer­i­can Coal, both sub­sidiaries.

“Lord, please for­give me and any­one with me in Mur­ray En­ergy Corp. for the de­ci­sions that we are now forced to make to pre­serve the very ex­is­tence of any of the en­ter­prises that you have helped us build,” he said in the pre­pared prayer. “We ask for your guid­ance in this dras­tic time with the dras­tic de­ci­sions that will be made to have any hope of our sur­vival as an Amer­i­can busi­ness en­ter­prise.”

With­out nam­ing Mr. Obama di­rectly, Mr. Mur­ray said the “tak­ers out­voted the pro­duc­ers” and lamented “lower and lower lev­els of per­sonal free­dom.”

“The Amer­i­can peo­ple have made their choice,” he prayed. “They have de­cided that Amer­ica must change its course, away from the prin­ci­ples of our founders. And away from the idea of in­di­vid­ual free­dom and in­di­vid­ual

“The Amer­i­can peo­ple have made their choice,” Mur­ray En­ergy

CEO Robert Mur­ray said in a prayer de­liv­ered to em­ploy­ees. “They have de­cided that Amer­ica must change its course, away from the prin­ci­ples of our founders. And away from the idea of in­di­vid­ual free­dom and in­di­vid­ual re­spon­si­bil­ity. Away from cap­i­tal­ism, eco­nomic re­spon­si­bil­ity, and per­sonal ac­cep­tance.”

re­spon­si­bil­ity. Away from cap­i­tal­ism, eco­nomic re­spon­si­bil­ity, and per­sonal ac­cep­tance.”

Mur­ray En­ergy wasn’t the only Amer­i­can com­pany with an abrupt re­sponse to Mr. Obama’s re-elec­tion, as Groupon, the dai­ly­deals web­site, also an­nounced 80 lay­offs on Nov. 8.

The con­ser­va­tive group Free­dom Works has posted a con­stantly updated list of com­pa­nies that will be lay­ing off peo­ple be­cause of the Af­ford­able Care Act, in­clud­ing such med­i­cal-de­vice mak­ers as Welch Al­lyn Inc. and Stryker Corp., which will be hit by a med­i­cal-de­vice tax un­der the health care law.

Sep­a­rately, an anony­mous Las Ve­gas CEO went on a lo­cal ra­dio show to say he had fired 22 of his com­pany’s 114 em­ploy­ees be­cause of Mr. Obama’s re-elec­tion. He told KXNT-FM that “elec­tions have con­se­quences.”

“I had to lay off 22 peo­ple to­day to make sure that my busi­ness is go­ing to thrive, and I’m go­ing to be around for years to come,” he said. “I have to build up that nest egg now for the taxes and reg­u­la­tions that are com­ing my way.”

In New York, a large Ap­ple­bee’s fran­chise owner an­nounced that he wouldn’t continue ex­pand­ing, and left the door open for lay­offs. Zane Tankel, chair­man and CEO of Ap­ple-Metro, which has 40 restau­rants with 80 to 300 em­ploy­ees at each lo­ca­tion, said Mr. Obama’s Af­ford­able Care Act, which Mr. Rom­ney vowed to re­peal, is mak­ing it too ex­pen­sive to do busi­ness.

“We’ve cal­cu­lated it will [cost] some mil­lions of dol­lars across our sys­tem,” he told Fox Busi­ness Net­work. “So what does that say? That says we won’t build more restau­rants. We won’t hire more peo­ple.”

Papa John’s founder and CEO John Sch­nat­ter also said af­ter the elec­tion that Mr. Obama’s health care law could force the com­pany to cut em­ploy­ees’ hours, a warn­ing that fol­lows his claim in Au­gust that the law could cause pizza prices to rise as much as 14 cents.

Other res­tau­rant chains such as Dar­den Restau­rants Inc., which owns the Red Lob­ster and Olive Gar­den brands, have said they would con­sider cut­ting work­ers’ hours be­cause the health care law’s man­date to pro­vide in­sur­ance ap­plies only to em­ploy­ees who work at least 30 hours a week.

Be­fore the elec­tion, Mil­wau­kee man­u­fac­turer Rite-Hite Corp.’s owner Mike White warned em­ploy­ees that there will be “per­sonal con­se­quences” for vot­ing for Mr. Obama.

In an email, he said work­ers “should un­der­stand the per­sonal con­se­quences to them of hav­ing our tax rates in­crease dra­mat­i­cally if Pres­i­dent Obama is re­elected, forc­ing tax­pay­ers to fund Pres­i­dent Obama’s fu­ture deficits and so­cial pro­grams (in­clud­ing Oba­macare), which re­quire big­ger gov­ern­ment.”

That’s the same thing West­gate Re­sorts Ltd. CEO David Seigel did when he emailed em­ploy­ees to tell them that if Mr. Obama was re-elected, it would “threaten your job.”

David Eldridge con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Four more years? Boe­ing em­ployee

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