Obama: You didn’t build that! (In Context)

Last Friday, President Obama appeared to be taking a shot at business owners in a campaign speech.  The line that got the President in trouble was this: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”  The speech was aimed at garnering support for the President’s proposal that those whose personal incomes surpass $250,000 should pay more in taxes.

At first glance, this looks like the President really is discrediting our countries great entrepreneurs- DEFINITELY a PR nightmare for the President.

The question is however, what is the “that” that Obama is referring to in his statement.  Again I turn to Politifact for the full context of the speech.  I won’t put the entire speech on here, but I think it’s important to take a look at the paragraph surrounding the controversial line”

“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.”

Now that it’s in context, you can see the President wasn’t talking about companies people build; but rather roads and bridges, the unbelievable American system, and the internet, etc.

The point that he’s trying to get across, albeit very poorly, is that if you have been successful, you have had help along the way.  Someone else built the internet, roads, bridges, education system, etc. – all services that enable business owners along the way toward success.

President Obama goes on further to say this:

“The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative…”

Kind of contradictory to how Obama’s opponents are painting this speech – like he gives no credit to the entrepreneur for his or her own “initiative”.  However, Obama does give them credit.

A friend of mine, (a conservative one, by the way), had this to say about the controversy:

This kind of selective editing in politics happens far too often from both the left and the right.  The only thing that’s worse than selective editing, however, is spreading it.

Was Obama really attacking entrepreneurs and business owners?  No.  Did he have a terrible placement of words and create a gaffe for himself?  Absolutely.

So when you see the post on Facebook, etc.  Just remember what the great President Lincoln has to say:


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