By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday, Rep. Jo Bonner (R) from Mobile responded to controversial remarks that a campaigning President Barack H. Obama made that appeared to slam entrepreneurs and individual achievements in general.
Rep. Bonner said, “Before an audience of supporters, President Obama fired a shot at America’s economic engine – the millions of jobs providers who struggle each day to remain profitable in spite of increasing government regulations and the threat of higher taxes. In so many words, he reminded our country’s small business owners that their success was not their own.”
President Obama’s speech was, “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.”
The now infamous ‘You didn’t build that’ speech has been roundly criticized by Republicans and businessmen alike.
Congressman Bonner said, “We all can acknowledge that local, state, and federal governments have played a role in protecting our communities and in laying the foundation for clean water, roads and other infrastructure. From educating children, to providing fire and rescue services, we are undeniably linked to many invaluable government services. Yet the president’s remarks suggest that government itself was the critical catalyst for the spark of ingenuity or the extra motivation of a successful businessperson. Americans who have been able to build a business share a mindset that millions of immigrants brought with them since this country was founded. They came here not for our roads and bridges or other government services; they came to America because of the equal playing field of opportunity that exists here. No matter who you are, or where you come from, you have a chance to succeed.”
Rep. Bonner continued, “If the president believes that government plays a vital role in making every business successful it is not surprising that he has embarked on a journey to take back from those same businesses. He has made clear his plans to raise taxes on Americans earning more than $250,000 a year come January 1, 2013.”
Rep. Bonner concluded, “Whether you believe government is the cure all or not, it should be self-evident that raising taxes on businesses during a recession will only hurt working Americans. A recent study by Ernst & Young concluded that Mr. Obama’s tax increase would shrink our economy by 1.3 percent, lower wages by 1.8 percent and lead to 710,000 fewer jobs. After three and a half years of unemployment above eight percent, the president refuses to concede that big government spending and regulating is not the answer to revive our weak economy.”
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney took a similar view to Rep. Bonner. The former Massachusetts Governor said, “The idea 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, you go on the list, that Joe and his colleagues didn’t build this enterprise, to say something like that is not just foolishness, it is insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America and it’s wrong.”
Gov. Romney continued, “And by the way, the President’s logic doesn’t just extend to the entrepreneurs that start a barber shop or a taxi operation or an oil field service business like this and a gas service business like this, it also extends to everybody in America that wants to lift themself up a little further, that goes back to school to get a degree and see if they can get a little better job, to somebody who wants to get some new skills and get a little higher income, to somebody who have may have dropped out that decides to get back in school and go for it. People who reach to try and lift themself up.”
Romney said, “The President would say, well you didn’t do that. You couldn’t have gotten to school without the roads that government built for you. You couldn’t have gone to school without teachers. So you are not responsible for that success. President Obama attacks success and therefore under President Obama we have less success and I will change that. I’ve got to be honest, I don’t think anyone could have said what he said who had actually started a business or been in a business. And my own view is that what the President said was both startling and revealing. I find it extraordinary that a philosophy of that nature would be spoken by a President of the United States.”
Congressman Jo Bonner represents Alabama’s First Congressional District