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Whole Foods CEO regrets comparing 'Obamacare' to fascism

PoliticsHealth Care Reform (2009)Restaurant and Catering IndustryCorporate OfficersWhole Foods MarketOlive GardenNPR

Using “fascism” to describe President Obama’s healthcare reform was “poor use of an emotionally charged word,” according to John Mackey, co-chief executive and co-founder of Whole Foods Market.

In a blog post Thursday, Mackey said he “definitely” regrets using the term, which “today stirs up too much negative emotion with its horrific associations in the 20th century.”

The mea culpa came amid a surge of criticism after Mackey’s interview earlier this week with NPR, in which he said that Obama's policies are “technically speaking … more like fascism” instead of socialism.

“Socialism is where the government owns the means of production,” he told NPR. “In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it, and that’s what’s happening with our healthcare programs and these reforms.”

That may be, but to the average American, the word “fascism” stirs up uncomfortable associations with Adolf Hitler and Nazism – and not so much the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

On Thursday, Mackey clarified his position, saying that what he wants out of healthcare is a more competitive open-market system for providers, or a combination of “free enterprise capitalism with a strong governmental safety net.”

“Creativity and progress are stifled when government regulations dictate the parameters of what healthcare plans can be offered,” he wrote.

Instead of “fascism,” he’s now taken to calling the law “government-controlled healthcare,” he wrote.

Mackey helps run Whole Foods, a chain of organic food emporiums, and is out publicizing his book “Conscious Capitalism.”

And he’s far from the only titan of the food and restaurant world displeased with the healthcare law. John Schnatter, chief executive of pizza chain Papa John’s, and Olive Garden parent Darden have both voiced misgivings about the looming healthcare policies.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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PoliticsHealth Care Reform (2009)Restaurant and Catering IndustryCorporate OfficersWhole Foods MarketOlive GardenNPR
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