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Conservatives Selectively Edit Obama’s Speech To Claim He Hates Small Businesses?

The quote that is getting all the attention is this:

If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else did that.

Fairly straightforward for a President who is a master at using words so that almost anyone listening can hear almost anything they want to hear in his speeches. Think Progress has an article out today claiming that Obama’s words were taken out of context. Really? Let’s take a look at the offending paragraphs and you can draw your own conclusion. From the White House website here are the sections that I find offensive (and incredibly disingenuous and ignorant):

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.[emphasis added] The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President — because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together. (Applause.)

You can read the entire speech here.

The problems with this speech are many. First, he conflates the subject of basic government services (roads, firefighting, public education) with the activities of business people investing their own capital, their own resources, their own time, their own energy, into an idea that someday, maybe, might create a product or service that might produce revenue that might enable that person to hire other people to provide more services and products. Capitalists will use the roads and fire fighting services but those services can’t be provided unless and until the capitalist succeeds and creates wealth or revenue which can then be taxed to build the roads and hire the firefighters.

Government services are separate and apart from capitalistic ventures and cannot be provided but for a government that confiscates wealth through taxes to build roads or hire firefighters. Government does not create wealth, but can only spend wealth.

Second, the President deftly conflates the creation of the United States by the Founding Fathers with the ability of individuals to succeed. He says “Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.” Seriously? A system that allows us to thrive? The Founding Fathers believed in a system of limited government with only enumerated powers and not of an overreaching, intrusive government that allows us to thrive. He’s got it backwards. We thrive because we have limited government in our unique social compact.

Finally, inferred in the President’s remarks is that somehow government creates jobs, creates wealth, creates the middle class, creates all that makes America great. his vision is one a federal government with unlimited powers, redistributing wealth, creating common, equal outcomes, served by a subservient population that depends on the government doing all these things collectively.

It is the antipathy of what capitalism and the American republic is all about and which enabled us to become the most advanced, successful and wealthy population in the history of mankind.

No, the President wasn’t taken out of context. I only wish that he had been. That wouldn’t be nearly as frightening.

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3 Responses to “Conservatives Selectively Edit Obama’s Speech To Claim He Hates Small Businesses?”

  1. Josh #

    Obama hates America? Really that’s what you guys are running with?

    Are you guys trying to lose this election? Romney seems shocked and appalled that someone would bring up outsourcing and Bain capitol, and the best response that you folks can muster is,

    1) Romney didn’t make the decisions to outsource those jobs he only made hundreds of millions of dollars because of them.

    2) Obama hates America because he believes that business’s are built on the hard work of their employees.

    You folks do realize the Middle class will be voting in this election right? Why exactly should I vote for a man who made his fortune on screwing hard working folks like myself out of a job, or a living wage?

    How are tax cuts for the rich, deregulation of the financial markets, and increased military spending going to save us from the great recession?

    Does anyone think we can survive another 4 years of Bush like policies? Why would we want to go back to the folks who got us into this mess.

    If we elect Romney the middle class will not see any benefit from an economic recovery, all those capital gains will go right to the fat cats who in return will continue to pay a lower percentage on their taxes than the people who clean there toilets. All the while they will continue to ship our jobs over seas, because Americans won’t work for 50 cents an hour, at least not yet, but they have a plan for that.

    July 16, 2012 at 11:53 pm
  2. Brett #


    You can’t honestly believe Obama is helping the middle class? If so, you’re clearly not part of the middle class.

    When you start talking about people being rich for whatever reason, you can’t at that point single out rich vs richer. Obama isn’t in the middle class, nor was he before he was elected. He is in the 1%. Why aren’t you worried about him investing his personal money in foreign business? Rhetorical, I know. ABC doesn’t report such things.

    Also, nobody believes Obama hates America because he believes business is built by hard working Americans. That’s actually what we WANT him to realize! He doesn’t believe anything was built by hard working Americans. Who even knows if he believes in “hard working Americans” at all? He believes no business could stand without the government. It’s what he said!

    It’s funny that Democrats are so mad about the evil republicans taking this “out of context”, however, I’m fairly certain the Democrats took a thing, or maybe even two, that Bush said out of context as well… enjoy defending him because this flub isn’t going away!

    I hope you understand that 47% of Americans didn’t pay taxes last year. How can people say it’s not fair to give tax breaks to the rich when they are the only ones paying any taxes? You can’t get a tax break if you don’t pay taxes. It’s pretty simple. You can’t take zero away from zero. But, WAIT! Obama figured that one out too! It’s called the Obamacare Tax.

    If you couldn’t afford health insurance before, you certainly won’t be able to afford it now. However, instead of just dealing with being sick, you’re going to get fined as well. Adding insult to injury. Thinking that nice fat tax return is coming in the mail, instead you just get another bill. Let me know how that works out for you and yours.

    July 22, 2012 at 10:29 am
  3. Watch the speech in person, while reading your version of his speech. There is no period behind “roads and bridges”, you didn’t create these.

    Hey guys, the biggest government of the free world, doesn’t have two bit cons, and lousy Spin writers, like Romney does. Romney couldn’t stay on script anyway. Liars are what they are.

    You still think a small business built the bridges and roads leading to their door? Get over yourself and join the now. The classics were, and are still great. Here’s a shock for you. The average age of a Floridian is 37. So wake up and read the rest of Obamas speech. Then tell me what Romney said in his speeches. All Romney can do is eliminate competition. That’s why American jobs are gone, but the chump change from his vulture capitalism, is in Romneys pocket. You really want this guy as your president?

    July 25, 2012 at 12:15 am