An NFIB spokesman added: ‘I’m sure every small-business owner who took a second mortgage on their home, maxed out their credit cards or borrowed money from their own retirement savings to start their business disagrees strongly with President Obama’s claim. They know that hard work does matter.

‘Every small business is not indebted to the government or some other benefactor. If anything, small businesses are historically an economic and job-creating powerhouse in spite of the government.’ …

David Chavern, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that the basic idea behind Obama’s comments, and other similar sentiments expressed by allies, ‘is really objectionable and offensive.’