Sensing an advantage over Barack Obama’s “you didn’t build it” dismissal of small business owners, Team Romney responds this morning with a new web video, titled “These Hands.” The ad features a Hudson, New Hampshire family that has owned the same small business for three generations, and ask, “Whose hands built this business?” The owner has a special message for the incumbent, too — “President Obama, you’re killing us”:
While the Romney campaign rushes to take advantage of the opening from the Obama gaffe, the original author of that argument doubled down on it yesterday. Elizabeth Warren asserted that Obama was correct in telling small business owners that “someone else made it happen”:
Warren’s reiteration of her statement — which became an iconic and controversial cornerstone of her campaign — comes as conservatives have leapt on Obama for saying “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Warren said during a campaign stop in Dorchester yesterday, “I think the basic notion is right. Nobody got rich on their own. Nobody. People worked hard, they build a business, God bless, but they moved their goods on roads the rest of us helped build, they hired employees the rest of us helped educate, they plugged into a power grid the rest of us helped build,” she said.
“The rest of us made those investments because we wanted businesses to flourish, we wanted them to grow, we wanted them to create opportunity for all of us. That’s what we do together. We get richer as a country when we make those investments.”
Er, well, so did those small business owners. In fact, because they generate more tax revenue directly to the locality, small business owners actually have more claim to have “built that” than others. Both Warren and Obama seem stubbornly ignorant of the fact of the origin of the capital that got confiscated to build that infrastructure. Without people willing to take risks to create and expand markets, there would be no capital to confiscate in the first place. Every road and bridge that Obama and Warren use as an example got built because people took risks, created and expanded markets and employment, and generated the wealth that funded those projects.
But hey, I hope Warren and Obama continue to make that argument all the way to the election. We can have a contest to see how Americans perceive our nation — as a nation of government that creates and tolerates small business, or a nation of markets that funds government. In fact, I think the competition between those visions is exactly what this election is all about, and it’s good that Democrats like Obama and Warren are finally being honest about it.