Does Barack Obama understand or even appreciate small business?
A sign at a Laurinburg restaurant off U.S. 401 suggests that the president may not.
Posted outside of Champs Fine Food and Spirits is a message addressed to Obama. It reads; “Mr. President, we built the business and we paid taxes for roads and services.”
The message is in response to a speech the president made last month in which he said successful people had help along the way.
The remarks have irked more than just the owner of a local sports bar. The president’s words have set off a firestorm, with critics suggesting that Obama is clueless when it come to the free enterprise system.
Mitt Romney’s campaign has certainly used Obama’s comments to great effect.
“To say that Steve Jobs didn’t build Apple, that Henry Ford didn’t build Ford Motor, that Papa John didn’t build Papa John Pizza, that Ray Kroc didn’t build McDonald’s, that Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft is not just foolishness, it is insulting to every entrepreneur,” Romney said on the campaign trail.
But we have to wonder if the controversy is more about the image of an unconstructed socialist that his critics have tried to saddle Obama with rather than what he actually said.
Here is what the president really said: “Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
The “that” refers to roads and bridges, not to businesses.
The larger point that the president was trying to make was that others play a role in person’s success. It is hard to understand why critics are trying to make that concept seem so foreign. Why wouldn’t successful businesses benefit from good schools and good roads and infrastructure?
One can turn to You Tube to see Gov. Romney making the same points at his own campaign rallies.
”There are a lot of people in government who help us and allow us to have an economy that works and allow entrepreneurs and business leaders of various kinds to start businesses and create jobs,” Romney said. “We all recognize that. That’s an important thing.
“I know that you recognize that a lot of people help you in a business. Perhaps the banks, the investors. There’s no question your mom and dad. Your school teachers. The people that provide roads, the fire, and the police. A lot of people help.”
For Romney or even heaven forbid, President Obama to say that does not diminish the hard work and accomplishments of small business owners.