Costco founder’s politics at odds with some members

Costco co-founder and former CEO Jim Sinegal appeared on CNBC Wednesday morning to offer a preview of his speech last night at the Democratic National Convention and explain why he supports the re-election of president Barack Obama.

Appearing live from Charlotte, N.C., host city for the DNC, Sinegal addressed what has become the central theme in this year’s election: whether American’s are better of today than when Obama took office. Parroting key Democratic messages, Sinegal noted that compared with where things were when Obama took office there has been considerable economic improvement with 29 consecutive months of private sector job growth and that the country is unequivocally better off.

“Business has been a little better and has improved as time goes along,” Sinegal said. “It is a slow process, but I do believe it is coming around.”

Sinegal’s support of Obama surely conflicts with views of many Costco members who tend to be upper income individuals or small business owners and are presumed to fare worse financially under a second Obama term.

On that issue, Singal said “when” Obama is re-elected it will lead to a more collaborative spirit in Washington and there will be a lot of conversations around the combination of spending cuts and tax increases needed to reduce deficits.
“It will be interesting to see where those (revenue increases) come from,” Sinegal said.

While his views may be at odds with Costco’s member base, Sinegal defended his outspokenness by noting, “as a businessperson, I don’t have to abdicate my citizenship.”

He went a step further to suggest that even if he were still running day to day operations at Costco he likely would have publicly supported Obama’s re-election.
He disagreed with the view espoused by CNBC hosts that a victory by Republican challenger Mitt Romney would be better for the stock market.

“An Obama victory will keep the market steady,” Sinegal said.

As for health care, Costco is likely to see an incremental increase in cost, but Sinegal said it is something the company can live with and adjust to because it already offers a rich plan.