Project 21 Members Tear Down Obama’s “You Didn’t Build That” Argument

First, President Obama recently assured Americans that “[t]he private sector is doing fine.”  Then, after a lackluster jobs report that heralded the 41st month of unemployment over eight percent, he said it was “a step in the right direction.”

But now it gets worse.

With Elizabeth Warren-like candor, Obama basically told the nation’s struggling businessmen that any successes they ever had or are lucky enough to be having in this bleak economy is not theirs to claim.  “Somebody else made that happen.”

Obama’s followers will say that the comment, made in Roanoke last week, is being taken out of context.  Well, here it is:

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.

Taking the statement into account in the big picture, Project 21 member Derryck Green takes the President to task for pushing small businessmen aside to pat big government laborers and bureaucrats on the back.  Derryck says:

If the President had stopped after the first sentence or two, his comment might have been okay.  Many Americans can think of an inspirational teacher that saw gifts within them that others didn’t, or prodded them more when others didn’t.  Such extra attention has likely been a fundamental difference in the many lives of American citizens — including me.

There are also many great individuals who contributed to this experiment called America such as Henry Ford or Thomas Edison who contributed to the success of society as a whole.

But for Obama to expose his true colors — again — by denigrating those who create businesses and employ other people by saying “[s]omebody else made that happen” is breathtaking in its condescension and naiveté.  It indicates that the President truly does not understand free market principles — or the sacrifice it takes to start a business, to sustain a business and make that business successful.

Reading between the lines, Obama intoned something much worse.  The examples of helpers named by the President — a teacher and the “somebody” who “invested” (read: paid into and worked on) infrastructure all have an intended common denominator.  That denominator is government.  Essentially, what he’s saying in actuality is that government is the reason why business owners are successful.  If it wasn’t for government, virtually nothing could be achieved.

In the blink of an eye, Obama minimized all of the hard work and sacrifice of business owners across the country.  He gave no thanks to the countless people and groups that are not government yet also help build businesses.

In 2008, Obama infamoulsy told “Joe the Plumber” that his tax plan was sound because “when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”  Now, he tells America that the success of businesses such as Joe’s would be impossible if not for big government.

The common denominators between both these examples are Obama’s low regard for the sacrifice of business owners and his failure to comprehend the private sector.


And Project 21 member Ak’Bar Shabazz, a small business owner, is just as angry.  Citing the regulatory hurdles that government imposes on businesses, Ak’Bar considers government more of a hassle than helper.  He says:

Our nation was built on small-business people believing in themselves, taking risks and persevering to success.  For President Obama to suggest that these people didn’t do it by themselves or attribute their success to the government speaks to his consistent misunderstanding of the fundamentals of our economy and the workings of small business.  Government is usually the inhibitor of business, not the promoter.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.