A local businessman stopped by the paper today to express some outrage over remarks President Obama made in Virginia recently. I honestly didn’t know what he was talking about. I don’t always keep up with the news on weekends, which is one reason I remain partially sane.
But I eventually figured it out by searching the intertubes and found a transcript of Obama’s remarks. (My emphasis added):
Now, one last thing — one of the biggest differences is how we pay down our debt and our deficit. My opponent, Mr. Romney’s plan is he wants to cut taxes another $5 trillion on top of the Bush tax cuts.
AUDIENCE: Booo –
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, like I said, the only way you can pay for that — if you’re actually saying you’re bringing down the deficit — is to cut transportation, cut education, cut basic research, voucherize Medicare, and you’re still going to end up having to raise taxes on middle-class families to pay for this $5 trillion tax cut. That’s not a deficit reduction plan. That’s a deficit expansion plan.
I’ve got a different idea. I do believe we can cut — we’ve already made a trillion dollars’ worth of cuts. We can make some more cuts in programs that don’t work, and make government work more efficiently. (Applause.) Not every government program works the way it’s supposed to. And frankly, government can’t solve every problem. If somebody doesn’t want to be helped, government can’t always help them. Parents — we can put more money into schools, but if your kids don’t want to learn it’s hard to teach them. (Applause.)
But you know what, I’m not going to see us gut the investments that grow our economy to give tax breaks to me or Mr. Romney or folks who don’t need them. So I’m going to reduce the deficit in a balanced way. We’ve already made a trillion dollars’ worth of cuts. We can make another trillion or trillion-two, and what we then do is ask for the wealthy to pay a little bit more. (Applause.) And, by the way, we’ve tried that before — a guy named Bill Clinton did it. We created 23 million new jobs, turned a deficit into a surplus, and rich people did just fine. We created a lot of millionaires.
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, 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. (Applause.)
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.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President — because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together. (Applause.)
Of course, it’s the “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that” line that has gone off like a time-release landmine. After a slow start, it’s beginning to make the rounds.
I know the president was talking about roads and bridges when he said “you didn’t build that.’ The trouble is, many business owners did help build them, with property taxes, gas taxes, local sales taxes etc. In Iowa, commercial property is taxed on 100 percent of its value, with those taxes going to maintain all sorts of public assets and infrastructure.
So on that point, the president doesn’t only sound tone-deaf, he’s also wrong.
I’m sure you have thoughts. I’d like to hear them.