Obama does a Trump: Another CEO may hear ‘you’re fired!’ 

Will President Barack Obama succeed in firing his second CEO? Having ousted Rick Wagoner from the top job at General Motors two years ago last month, the chief executive has now set his sights on the obscure,
80-year-old head of drug-maker Forest Laboratories.

The situation at Forest Labs, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, is complicated. The company recently settled charges of illegal marketing practices with the Justice Department, paying fines and a civil settlement worth a combined $313 million.

Howard Solomon, the company’s president and CEO of 34 years, was not accused of wrongdoing in the case, nor did the settlement agreement include a change of management as one of its terms.

But the Department of Health and Human Services has now come to the table invoking a seldom-used power. It will cut off the company’s business with Medicare and Medicaid unless Solomon steps down.

And last week, Obama’s National Labor Relations Board initiated a dispute with Boeing Corporation over its decision to expand its airplane manufacturing operation at a location in South Carolina, a right-to-work state.

The NLRB, which is dominated by Obama appointees, is interfering because it wants to make the company add as much work as possible to its existing unionized facilities in Washington State. This is a shot across the bow not only of Boeing, but of all firms heading south in an effort to control costs. And it comes under the influence of a labor union lobby that is all-powerful in the current White House.

The taxpayers’ stake in the congressionally unauthorized bailout of the automakers became grounds for government control of other business decisions, including the mistreatment of Chrysler’s secured creditors and even whether GM headquarters would be allowed to remain in its current Detroit building.

The taxpayers’ hegemony over the buyers’ market for pharmaceuticals, soon to grow thanks to an Obamacare law that may not survive constitutional scrutiny, now justifies greater government involvement in the drug-makers’ management.

And then there is the stimulus package, much of whose $800 billion price tag was intended to move industry and investment in directions (“clean energy,” union construction labor) that are dictated not by market demand, but by an ideological vision of what the “jobs of the 21st century” ought to be.

A properly limited government is a force for good. It arbitrates disputes, punishes wrongdoers,and facilitates the day-to-day economic activities of its citizens. But the Obama administration seems to view American economic activity as something regrettably necessary and subordinate to government priorities.

Columnist David Freddoso is The Washington Examiner online opinion editor.

About The Author

David Freddoso

David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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