There are none. Stop.
“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.”
On its face this is true in a sense, but also an absurd argument for a President to make, as if anyone actually believes that an individual is 100% responsible for everything that happens in their life, especially their business. Par for the course in what has been the President’s reelection campaign against his challenger, also from Massachusetts, Mitt Straw-man.
But then today I heard the audio, saw the video, adding another sense to the text, and it made me viscerally angry. Have we ever had such an arrogant, condescending, entitled, resentful man in the White House? Just wow.
Now that I’ve gotten all that out of my system, on to some actual points regarding what he said.
1. It’s a straw man. As usual. Mr President, there are no solipsists. No man is an island. It takes a village. Etc etc. The President isn’t running against an Anarchist for his office, but a Republican, and not even a radical libertarian one (I wish). Everyone knows we use public infrastructure, other peoples’ research, shared ideas, years of education, and an interconnected society of consumers and producers to make business and the economy work. No one is arguing we don’t. We’re only arguing the level, not the fact, of government influence.
2. The line “You didn’t build that” could be referring to the previously mentioned roads and bridges rather than the business itself. Fine. Who (besides John Stossel) is arguing we shouldn’t fund roads and bridges? Local, state, and federal taxes pay for roads and bridges. Individuals and businesses pay those taxes, so yes, Mr President, the businesses in a community do build the roads and bridges in that community, in the fiscal sense. And in many places, the state or municipality actually hires businesses to do the construction itself!
3. Yes, government research (in the Defense Department that the President wants to cut, as do I) led to the internet, but the private sector made it the revolutionary, world changing communications and business tool it is today. DARPA may have created the internet, but they didn’t create AOL, Prodigy, Compuserve, Google, Yahoo, Apple, or Amazon. Entrepreneurs did, and yes, using tools built by others (more often tools built by other entrepreneurs than tools built by government, though).
The President is supposed to lead and inspire, not divide and denigrate. These kind of comments do not promote enterprise, growth, or entrepreneurship, they promote resentment, entitlement, and envy. President Obama thinks it’s more important for us to be “in this together” than to actually grow the economy in the ways that actually work. It’s been said so many times, but not enough, the contrast in this election could not be any clearer.
Literally every media outlet reporting on the House vote today to repeal Obamacare is saying that it’s the 33rd time they’ve done so. This is a lie. The House has voted only twice to repeal the bill in full.
One of the first acts the 112th Congress took on January 19, 2011 was to vote to repeal Obamacare. It passed 245-184 (3 Democrats, 0 Republicans defecting). The vote today was also to repeal Obamacare. It passed 244-185 (5 Democrats, 0 Republicans defecting). Reminder: Obamacare itself passed 219-212 with 34 Democrats, 0 Republicans defecting.
Of the alleged 33 votes, only #1 and #33 were to repeal the full bill. Votes 2-32 were not votes to repeal. Some were votes to defund portions of the implementation, some votes were to repeal specific portions of the bill, some votes were on general appropriations bills that affected the funding of certain programs from the bill (without defunding them completely), among others. Only one of the 31 other votes would have repealed Obamacare, and only indirectly as part of the Paul Ryan budget proposal; it still was not a direct vote to repeal the law.
Some of the 33 were passed, some failed, some died in the Democrat-controlled Senate, some were passed by the Senate, and some were even signed into law by the President. Would the President have signed a bill to repeal Obamacare? No. Then it’s a lie to say that all those votes did so.
There’s a very common idea out there that the Republican Party is more radical than it’s ever been, and that if only we could have Republicans like we used to have, we could get things done. It’s an easy concept to swallow whole without chewing. It gets digested and enters the deliberative bloodstream where it then affects every other idea in the body politic.
There are several problems with this idea, of course, the first of which is that it’s recursive. Jonah Goldberg takes this aspect head on in a recent column. Simply, Democrats and the media have always complained that Republicans were too radical and used to be better. If they ever admit that current Republicans are reasonable, they neuter their arguments for their own policies.
Another problem is that it assumes radicalism on the part of only one side. This simple bias was portrayed perfectly on this week’s episode of Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin’s new series about a cable news production set in the recent past. In preparing coverage for the November 2010 election and Tea Party takeover of Congress, the anchor, Will McAvoy, says “Can you imagine Humphrey or Kennedy standing for a photo-op with Bernardine Dohrn or Allen Ginsburg?” To respond directly, no, probably not. However, fifty years later, Barack Obama launched his presidential campaign in the home of the exact same Bernardine Dohrn (and her husband, Bill Ayers, formerly of the domestic terrorist organization, Weather Underground).
Why is it again that radicalism is only accused of one side?