Robert Johnson (left), business magnate and founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), has joined the mounting list of CEOs and business leaders who are questioning President Obamas incessant demagoguing of Americas wealthy. On “Fox News Sunday,” Johnson suggested that the President “recalibrate his message,” so as not to “demean” or “attack” the achievements of so many hardworking Americans. “Ive earned my right to fly private if I choose to do so,” he declared, “and by attacking me, [Obama] is not going to convince me that I should take a bigger hit because I happen to be wealthy.”
Although Johnson did not directly address President Obamas “Buffett Rule” (a proposal that would allow millionaires to pay a lesser share of their income in taxes than middle-income earners pay, such as Warren Buffett’s secretary), he grimaced at the notion of raising taxes on the wealthy, as he described how he joined the business world to “create jobs and opportunity [and] create value for myself and my investors.” Raising taxes and alienating Americas job producers would only suppress such ambition, he implied.
Another wealthy businessman and previous Obama supporter, former AOL executive Ted Leonsis, attacked the Presidents new tax proposal in a Sept. 25 blog, titled, “Class Warfare Yuck!” “Economic success has somehow become the new boogie man,” Leonsis writes, adding that “some in the Democratic Party are now casting about for enemies, and business leaders and anyone who has achieved success in terms of rank or fiscal success are being cast as a bad guy in a black hat.”
During an interview last week with CBS News, the BET founder took a broader tone with the federal government, arguing that the political process is too polarized, and thus has taken a toll on the economy. “Ive been in business for over 30 years [and] Ive never seen a time when theres been more zero-sum game mentality in the United States among political parties,” he told CBSs Scott Pelley during the interview.
Johnson expounded the idea that from a business standpoint, if one saw two parties arguing so relentlessly, one would not want to conduct business with either of them, but would find other parties with which to work. “And you know what you find, the Chinese who want to do business. You find the Vietnamese who want to do business. You find the Brazilians. You find the Indians want to do business with you.”