President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign stop in downtown Roanoke, Va., on July 13. | Don Petersen~AP
Updated: September 1, 2012 6:06AM
In his regular weekly address Saturday, President Barack Obama asserted that “we’re still paying” for the Bush tax cuts. It was a not-so-subtle jab aimed at blaming tax reductions enacted a decade ago for today’s bad economy. But desperate times require desperate measures, and the White House is desperate to divert the voters’ attention from Obama’s failed policies and his infamous “you didn’t build that” remarks disparaging Americans entrepreneurs, successful business owners and job creators.
The White House has been in damage control mode ever since those remarks, and Friday’s report showing the economy grew at an anemic 1.5 percent in the last quarter only added to the urgency of Obama’s re-election campaign to find a way to change the subject. The main thrust of Obama’s defenders is that his comments were taken out of context. Here’s what he said:
“[L]ook, 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.
“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.”
In context, it’s devastating. Obama is indicted by his own words, condescending to small-business owners and elevating government as the wellspring of all success. If that’s so, why can’t government help all the smart and hardworking among us pull down 1 percent incomes? After all, any of us smart, hardworking individuals could have come up with the iPhone, right?
It takes more than smarts and long hours. Sometimes it begins with a simple ambition: I want to be my own boss. Or it’s an idea: a computer in every home. Starting a business involves a daunting risk — sinking every penny you have in your dream, abandoning the safety net of a 9-to-5 job, focusing to the exclusion of all else on what it takes to realize that dream. It’s a lonely quest. No, government does not make that happen.
What does make it possible is good governance — a society committed to the rule of law, property rights, reasonable taxes and dependable fiscal policy. Yet, Obama displays a cavalier attitude to those principles.
For political purposes, he refuses to enforce an immigration law and packs the NLRB to get around Congress to rewrite union election rules. In the auto industry bailout, he elevated the interests of his union allies over the bondholders in these corporations, an affront to property rights. He rejected the reasonable tax reform proposed by his own deficit reduction commission to pursue redistributive tax policies inimical to job growth. The uncertainties generated by his massive expansion of government with laws such as ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank have frozen all sorts of business investment.
Either Obama doesn’t understand the free-market system or he has disdain for it because it doesn’t meet his standard for “fairness.” Either way, it translates into policies that have turned this recovery into the weakest in modern history, keeping millions of Americans jobless. Voters have a fateful decision to make in November.