When a company seeks a new chief executive officer, its ideal candidate is someone who shares its values and who will help it to achieve its primary fiduciary duty: maximizing shareholder value. Hiring President Obama as a CEO would undermine this goal. A company would never hire someone who is a champion for causes and ideas that have the potential to destroy it.
While it is unlikely that Mr. Obama will be applying for the top position at Berkshire Hathaway anytime soon, shareholders must deal with the fact that the company’s current commander in chief is a believer in would-be CEO Barack Obama’s ideas and ideology. Advocacy for the president’s philosophy by Mr. Buffett and others comes at a cost: stifled prosperity.
Beyond the lackluster performance of the Obama economy, one need only look at the list of “accomplishments” of this administration to see how it is harming America’s chances of economic recovery. The president’s health care law makes business owners reluctant to hire permanent employees because of uncertain new costs and mandates. The president’s banking reforms such as the Dodd-Frank law make capital acquisition more difficult and therefore diminish the prospects of expansion for small or large businesses. The president’s proposed tax policies would punish success and redistribute the wealth to those who pay few, if any, income taxes. And the president’s Environmental Protection Agency regulatory proposals are strangling our energy, manufacturing, food and agriculture sectors. This deliberate stifling of prosperity will hold back America for years.
Notably, Berkshire Hathaway owns considerable shares in a number of companies under assault as a result of these types of policies promoted by the administration. Yet Mr. Buffett is complicit with the actions being taken by the president. Not only is prosperity in general under assault, but Big Oil, Big Food, Big Pharma, Big Banks and Big Business are targets for higher taxes and more regulation by this administration. Berkshire Hathaway is heavily invested in many of these industries, yet Mr. Buffett routinely comes to the defense and aid of a president whose actions hamper his own shareholders.
Despite the advocacy for the president’s ideas and ideology, perhaps there is still a chance that Mr. Buffett does not trust the president 100 percent. Mr. Buffett, certainly a savvy investor, puts his money where there are gains to be had. As far as we can tell, Mr. Buffett has done everything possible to make sure that not one extra dollar of his money goes to the federal government. Not only has he likely not “donated” to the federal government, but he has made every effort to reduce his taxable income, making it so he pays the least amount of taxes possible to Washington. Last year, his income was nearly $63 million, but he only paid taxes on roughly $39 million. Sheltering income from taxation is not exactly a testament to his confidence in Mr. Obama’s abilities.
Shareholders would be outraged if Berkshire Hathaway hired Mr. Obama as its CEO. But they should be just as outraged that the current CEO is championing the president’s ideas and ideology, both of which threaten and undermine the company’s obligation to maximize shareholder value.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp is a Republican from Kansas.