LAMBRO: Obama’s self-congratulations

President believes he’s the ‘somebody else’ who made it happen

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President Obama says that if you start a successful business that creates lots of jobs, you didn’t make it happen — “somebody else made that happen.”

Mr. Obama’s thoughtless, insensitive, ideologically-driven remark must have come as a shock to many hard-working, enterprising, risk-taking Americans who have started new businesses, often under very competitive, even brutal circumstances, and survived.

These are intensely driven, ambitious people who have dreamed of building a business of their own and becoming employers whose success creates payrolls, strengthens communities and fuels prosperous economies. Many do not make it. Millions fail on their first try, but try again and again, and enough have succeeded to make the United States the largest, most productive economy in the history of the world.

Why would Mr. Obama make such a fallacious claim in the midst of a presidential campaign in which he is struggling to convince dispirited and disappointed Americans to give him four years more in office? Because he has failed to propose and enact the kind of pro-growth, pro-investment, pro-jobs policies desperately needed to get our economy growing again at full throttle and put tens of millions of unemployed Americans back to work.

When Mr. Obama made his rather outrageous remark in a campaign speech on July 13, it received little if any serious news media attention. It should have been the lead story on the nightly news. It should have made headlines. It did not. Here’s what he said: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

His Republican rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who founded one of the most successful business investment enterprises in the country, creating thousands of jobs in the process, said Mr. Obama sounded anti-entrepreneur. “It shows how out of touch he is with the character of America,” Mr. Romney said at a campaign rally in Bowling Green, Ohio. “This idea of criticizing and attacking success, of demonizing those in all walks of life who have been successful, is something that is so foreign to us that we can’t understand it.”

Apparently, many people who heard or read Mr. Obama’s remark couldn’t understand it, either, because this week the president had to explain what he meant by his remark — something he’s had to do many times before.

Actually, what he said he really meant is confirmed in the fuller context that followed his “somebody else made that happen” remark.

The Washington Post, always ready and willing to help Mr. Obama talk his way out of a jam, wrote this: “Though potentially damaging in isolation, the president’s words taken in context refer to the idea that the groundwork for success is laid by others.”

“Somebody along the line gave you some help,” Mr. Obama said. “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.”

You get just one guess who that someone is. He hinted at it in his self-serving remarks above. That’s right, Mr. Obama himself.

His so-called “jobs stimulus” spending plan in 2009 poured billions of federal tax dollars into debt-ridden state and local governments to save the jobs of teachers and other public employees who were threatened with layoffs. Who’s been investing in those roads and bridges that he says is really responsible for America’s successful businesses? Why, Mr. Obama, of course.

It was his big-spending stimulus for public infrastructure projects and thousands of similar expenditures buried in a massive money bill that he signed into law and then spent.

In other words, it’s the government that is responsible for building businesses in America, he says, not millions of business people who began those enterprises large and small and now provide most of the jobs in the country.

How arrogant and conceited can one get? Mr. Obama’s remarks fully reveal what he has always seen as the only pathway out of our spiraling economic and jobless decline: bigger and more costly government.

Government has been the pre-eminent focus of all his economic policies, from a public-works bonanza that did not create permanent jobs to green technology handouts to companies that went bankrupt. It has been the largest recipient of his largesse.

He admitted as much several weeks ago when he was talking about the need for jobs in the various employment sectors of the U.S. economy, saying, “The private sector is doing fine.” It’s the public sector that needs shoring up, he argued.

This is patently false, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector employment is nearly 4 percent lower than it was when the recession began, the Heritage Foundation reported.

Between December 2007 and May 2012, state worker levels were down a mere 1.3 percent; local government employees were down 2.8 percent; and federal employee levels were up by 11.6 percent.

Private-sector employment was down by a huge 3.9 percent, and it is definitely not doing fine.

There are two major candidates in this presidential race. One is peddling more government as the answer to all our economic ills. The other wants to vastly expand the private sector though investment incentives to fuel business start-ups (now the lowest in decades), economic growth (now barely breathing) and robust job creation to put 23 million unemployed and underemployed Americans back to work.

Go to Mr. Obama’s campaign website and you will see “The Life of Julia,” a cartoon everywoman who is cared for from cradle to grave by government. Go to Mr. Romney’s website and you can read his plan to expand the free private sector by accelerating economic growth, opportunities and jobs for all Americans to live productive, independent and successful lives.

These are the choices before voters this November.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and former chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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