That President Barack Obama carries the barest of interest in the nation’s economy has been clear to anyone but the most devout of his throne-sniffers.
The bulk of his effort towards the subject has been mostly prolix over proaction; his perpetual announcements of rededication to the subject has rendered “pivot to the economy” as a punchline. However, as we have come to expect little from the Oval Office, it is notable when one of Obama’s largest campaign donors is guilty of one of his largest accusations during the past Presidential election.
Jeffrey Katzenberg is one of the heads of the Hollywood studio Dreamworks SKG. He is also an ardent and active Obama supporter. Katzenberg has personally donated half a million dollars to the Obama Presidential campaigns. He is often marshaling other celebrities to the cause via fundraisers as well as funneling millions into the the Priorities USA Action super PAC. Last month Katzenberg was busy on another project barely noted in the media: shipping domestic jobs across the border. This is a notable move, given Obama bolstered his 2012 reelection with stark accusations of Bain Capital’s business practices, and bold talk of preserving American jobs.
On Thursday, January 22, Katzenberg announced a larger than expected job-slashing—500 jobs—taking place in the studio’s Dreamworks Animation division. An additional surprise announcement confirmed the closing of the PDI Dreamworks studio, in Redford, CA. (PDI began as an independent animation production firm in 1980.) The studio head also declared they would scale back on projected animated releases, limiting that number to two per calendar year. Those future films are of particular note, because these layoffs are downscaling the workforce in the animation division, but only here in the U.S. This is a staggering detail given who Katzengberg is, and what Obama says.
In November of 2013 Obama gave a speech at the Dreamworks Animation studios, and in trademark fashion his words displayed avoidance of blatant realities. “Entertainment is one of the bright spots of our economy,” the President insisted during his stop. He said this at the very same studio that earlier that February announced initial major layoffs for the end of the year. It is an apt metaphor that Obama pronounced everything was fine, from the same parking lot that would have hundreds of employees driving off for the last time just one month later. This is typical of Obama—drawing a sunny picture while hundreds of jobs were erased. Katzenberg must have missed that “bright spot” speech as he is eliminating more American jobs while he truncates future business.
One of those future projects in development at Dreamworks is an adaptation of the children’s book series, “Captain Underpants.” That film has been announced as being produced in partnership with the animation studio, Mikros Image. The most important detail here: Mikros is based in Montreal, Canada. For decades, Hollywood studios have been migrating to Canada for all manner of film and television production, so another studio following suit is not landmark news… that is, until you consider the words of Candidate Obama in 2012.
During that contentious reelection bid the Obama campaign frequently damaged Mitt Romney by bringing up his tenure at the company Bain Capital. The media did their part, amplifying Obama’s claims that Romney’s corporate experience disqualified him from higher office, while never contrasting Obama’s complete lack of experience in the private sector. One of the aspects from the Romney resume often cited as a problem was the claim that Bain frequently cut jobs in this country to save money by shipping those jobs to other countries. In speeches and numerous campaign commercials Obama labeled Romney as “The Outsourcer In-Chief.”
That summer Obama’s campaign strategist David Axlerod tried to spoon-feed reporters with their talking point:
“The question is, do (the voters) want an outsourcer-in-chief in the Oval Office or do they want a president who will fight for American jobs?”
The latest Dreamworks announcement makes this too sad to enjoy as ironic. Katzenberg’s recent move of hundreds of jobs across the border is not a sudden development. Dreamworks Animation already has established divisions overseas, in India and China, as a supply chain for content created with lowered labor costs. It is revealing that somebody engaging in the very practice demonized by The President escapes negative scrutiny. In fact, the exact opposite will take place.
If you donate enough to the President’s interests he will arrive on scene to declare how wonderful your company is operating, all while that hundreds are packing up their work desks.
Fighting for American paychecks clearly becomes secondary to this President once the donation checks clear for payment.