A Georgia businessman has an ultimatum for America: Fire President Obama, or he will not hire any more workers.
Bill Looman, owner of U.S. Cranes LLC, said he is fed up with the bad economy and D.C. politicians who do nothing to solve the problem. So until there is a change of leadership, his company trucks will bear the message: “New Company Policy: We Are Not Hiring Until Obama Is Gone.”
“The message that I tried to put in there is that I cannot afford it,” Looman told ABC News. “I just cannot afford to hire anybody right now.”
Looman, whose company operates cranes at construction sites, said he has had to lay off three of his nine employees because of the bad economy. He said overregulation and the cost of complying with federal mandates has caused many of his customers to shut their doors.
“The buck stops [at Obama],” he said. “He is the leader of this nation and he needs to assume that postion and understand it is his fault, ultimately.”
Although the signs went up about six months ago, photos of the “new company policy” went viral on the internet Monday, WXIA-TV first reported.
“I didn’t intend for it to get to this level,” Looman said. “Maybe it will put a new perspective on what’s happening out here to middle America.”
The reaction – partially positive but mostly negative – was so overwhelming that Looman said he had to temporarily shut down his website and disconnect his phone lines.
“Verbally there were a lot of threats,” he said. ”People were running my technicians off the road. They were focused on trying to make that message something more than it was.”
Because of the flood of traffic, Looman asked his fellow Marine and web developer Mike Sankewitsch to put up a message in place of his company website, which, because he runs the business out of his home, showed his family’s address and phone number.
“William [Bill] Looman is a veteran, a patriot, and most importantly, my friend and brother,” Sankewitsch wrote in a message on the U.S. Crane web page. ”All of you who have been less than kind in your assessment of Bill for his practice of that freedom [of expression], should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Sankewitsch said he posted the message to remind the people criticizing Looman that he has the right, under the First Amendment, to post what he wants on his trucks.
“Aside from any political things thrown his way, there was a lot of hate voicemail, hate faxes, death threats,” he said. “Nobody has to be throwing death threats around just because somebody displays something. It’s just wrong.”
In a post on his Facebook page on Tuesday, Looman addressed the criticism, writing that added attention had been good for business.
“To all my liberal friends … thank you for the two new customers that came on board today because you idiots are attacking me,” Looman wrote. “One new customer states … ’You got nerve, so you got my business.’ I may have to hire after all.”
While the barrage of criticism did not hit until this week, the backlash began shortly after the photos were first posted. Looman said he got an unexpected visit from the Secret Service after someone reported to the FBI that he was a possible threat to national security.
“They gave me the typical interview to see if I was a threat,” Looman said. “We actually had a good meeting and when they left, they were under the impression that they wasted their time.”
With unemployment still stuck at around 9 percent, where it has been for more than two years, U.S. Crane LLC is not the only business that feels the drag of a sluggishly recovering economy. The GDP grew a mere 2 percent over the past quarter, even less than the 2.5 percent growth than the Bureau of Economic Analysis had originally estimated.
On Saturday, Obama, along with business leaders, lawmakers and shoppers across the country, celebrates Small Business Saturday , an initiative that encourages people to buy only from local, small businesses for a day.
“When small businesses do well, communities flourish and our economy grows,” Obama said in a statement announcing his support for the initiative. “America was built on the hard work and creativity of our people. On this occasion, we reaffirm our support for America’s small business owners and their staff, and we celebrate the proud tradition of entrepreneurship they represent.”