Bernie Marcus co-founded Home Depot in 1978, a bad economic time of rising unemployment, accelerating inflation and Jimmy Carter’s downhearted feelings of malaise.
Home Depot prospered, but in an interview with Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) in July 2011, the third year of Obama’s presidency, Marcus said the company wouldn’t have survived if it was launched in 2011 because of the federal government’s overblown and ever-increasing regulations.
At the time of the interview, the official July 2011 unemployment rate was 9.1 percent, with 13.9 million people unemployed and a labor participation rate (the percentage of the civilian non-institutional working-age population who are in the labor force) in decline, dropping by 193,000 people in July 2011 alone.
Here are several of the interview’s highlights:
IBD: “What’s the single biggest impediment to job growth today?”
Marcus: “The U.S. government. Having built a small business into a big one, I can tell you that today the impediments that the government imposes are impossible to deal with. Home Depot would never have succeeded if we tried to start it today. Every day you see rules and regulations from a group of Washington bureaucrats who know nothing about running a business.”
IBD: “President Obama has promised to streamline and eliminate regulations.”
Marcus: “His speeches are wonderful. His output is absolutely, incredibly bad. With just ObamaCare by itself, you have a 2,000-page bill that’s probably going to end up being 150,000 pages of regulations.”
IBD: “If you could sit down with Obama and talk to him about job creation, what would you say?”
Marcus: “I’m not sure Obama would understand anything that I’d say, because he’s never really worked a day outside the political or legal area. He doesn’t know how to make a payroll, he doesn’t understand the problems businesses face.”
The advice from Marcus to the business community? “It’s time to stand up and fight. These people in Washington are out there making your life difficult, and many of you won’t survive. We are on the edge of the abyss.”
John Mackey, co-founder of Whole Foods in 1980 and currently co-CEO of the company, has delivered similar words of warning.
“We’re going bankrupt, for one thing,” says Mackey, regarding the federal debt. “Unless we’re willing to take that seriously and deal with it without raising taxes and choking off the enterprise of America, then I see a decline as inevitable.”
Mackey points to how Reagan reversed the economic breakdown of the Carter years, a stagflation that steadily cut the value of paychecks and reduced the nation’s standard of living.
“We had a leader who came in and cut taxes and freed up a lot of industries through deregulation,” asserts Mackey, “and America experienced a renaissance, a rebirth, and that pretty much carried us for the past 25 years or more.”
Today, cautions Mackey, we’ve “gone backwards again,” retreating from Reagan’s pro-growth, pro-business policies that rewarded work, encouraged investment, produced jobs, expanded incomes and delivered a 180-degree economic turnaround.
Most recently, “Bush really accelerated that retreat,” says Mackey, referring to George W. Bush, “and now Obama’s taking it to extraordinary lengths far beyond what any other president has ever done before.”