The Latest Lie: “You Didn’t Build That”

Dave Johnson

Did President Obama tell business owners they didn’t build their businesses. That’s what the entire right-wing media machine is saying he said. What did he really say?

Drudge Report headline: “Obama Goes Wild: ‘If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen’…”

Drudge links to the Washington Times, which writes, “President Barack Obama addressed supporters in Roanoke, Virginia on Friday afternoon and took a shot at the business community. President Obama dismissed any credit business owners give themselves for their success:”

Heritage Foundation: Obama Tells Entrepreneurs “You Didn’t Build” Your Business

Heritage writes: “That sound you hear is silence—as millions of small business owners and entrepreneurs were left speechless this weekend from President Obama’s latest insult.”

And so on across the right-wing media machine. Imagine the talk-radio discussion today!

What Did He Really Say?

President Obama pointed out that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets. He said that in the United States we succeed together. Here is the full quote:

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. 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.

This is not “insulting,” it is just the way it is. We, the People (government) invested in the internal improvements — infrastructure — that enables our businesses to thrive.

Nuts

PS, Heritage then goes seriously off the deep end:

Obama pushed his policy goals of infrastructure (aka stimulus) spending and “government research” as part of a collectivist utopia “doing things together.” It’s simply stunning that he would tell Americans, “If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that.”

Heritage mocks the idea that We, the People (government) should maintain our country’s internal improvements (infrastructure)! Heritage says infrastructure and research and “doing things together” are part of a “collectivist utopia?” We, the People — democracy — are “collectivist?” Deep end, people, deep end. Get back in the children’s pool.

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