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In meeting with Obama, New Glarus Brewing president praises his work on health care

New Glarus Brewing co-founder and President Deb Carey said she praised the president today for his work on health care, urged him to consider higher taxes for investors and chided him for failing to do a better job of celebrating the administration’s successes.

Carey was one of 15 small business owners called to the White House today to meet with President Obama and Vice President Biden about the looming fiscal cliff.

Carey said the president and his aides gave an overview of the economy and stressed their hopes to avoid “any big crisis situation” over the cliff, when a round of tax hikes and spending cuts would take effect without congressional action.

“They were really looking to us for ideas to increase revenue or things that would help us grow our business,” Carey said via phone while she waited for her plane to fly back to Wisconsin.

She said she stressed to him the need for skilled labor and told the president his health care law was “at least a step in the right direction” in helping small businesses deal with the burdensome cost of health care. “I think he needs reinforcement, too, for the good work he is doing,” she said.

She said some raised concerns about taxes going up on capital gains. But she took issue with that, saying at the roundtable that an increase of a couple percentage points on investors is not a “horrific change.”

“I said, ‘Look, the thing is I pay regular income tax, and I‘m the guy who drags my butt out of bed at 7 in morning and goes to work until I drop seven days a week for 20 years,'” she said. “'Why am I not getting the great break? Why should it be the silent investors?'”

The president has proposed ending the Bush-era tax cuts on income amounts greater than $250,000 a year. She acknowledged that she and her husband Dan, the brewmaster, would be impacted by those rates going up. But she said she would have no problem with that.

“Everyone needs to pitch in,” she said. “It’s going to have to come from both sides. It can’t just be cuts and can’t just be tax increases, either.”

The administration touted progress with the economy and what it said was $1 trillion in tax cuts implemented during Obama’s term. Carey said she was blunt with the president that he needs to do a better job of explaining that to the public.

“I don’t think the general public is aware of a trillion in tax cuts already enacted. That’s a big number,” she said.

Carey said she was unsure why she was picked for the meeting, though she has previously been touted on the White House website as a “Champion of Change.” She also snagged three bottles of White House beer as part of the trip.

“I called Joe ‘Joe,’ which I got a kiss for, and I got beer, so I think I did OK,” Carey said.


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