A statement by President Barack Obama on the campaign trail still rankles some small business owners a month later — and the issue doesn’t seem to be going away.
In a speech in July 2012 President Obama made the statement, “If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. ” ABC News
That set off a firestorm of reaction. Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s campaign seized on the comment and organized a series of “We Did Build It!” rallies.
The President fought back with speeches and a television commercial explaining that his words had been pulled out of context by his opponent. He restated his support for small businesses.
How Do Small Business Owners Feel?
There is no single “small business position” on this or any other election issue. Small business owners have varying political beliefs and can be found on every side of every issue.
But “We DID build it” has become a rallying cry for some small business owners to voice how they feel about government, taxation and spending. They are waging protests in their places of business, as recently as this past week. Small business owners are not known for protesting or mixing politics with business. To do so at all is remarkable.
It’s a sign of deeper discontent by some small business owners. A Gallup poll from the 2nd quarter of 2012 (before the President’s comments) found business owners are the group LEAST approving of President Obama’s on-the-job performance, with 59% disapproving. In other words, a majority of small business owners did not think the President was doing a good job according to the Gallup poll — even before the political dust-up over the “You didn’t build it” comments.
Fast forward to today, a month after the President’s comments were made:
Business Owners Speak Out
Sending a message. Just to be sure President Obama knows who built his company, biz owner Al Letizio put up signs in front of his small New Hampshire food service business so that the President was sure to get his message while passing in his motorcade through the state. Breitbart
An inside job. Deli owner Ross Murty got even closer to the Obama campaign to make his point about his small business. While catering an Obama visit to Iowa, Murty wore a shirt stating “Government Didn’t Build My Business. I did.” Washington Post
Sweet revenge. Chris McMurray, co-owner of “Crumb and Get It”, a family owned bakery in Radford, Va., said “no” when campaign workers for Vice President Joe Biden asked whether Biden could make a campaign stop at the local mom and pop. His objection stemmed from Obama’s comment about business. WDBJTV
Look at All Sides
Pulled out of context. Erica Nicole says President Obama’s comments were pulled out of context and misrepresented by the media. Business owners should consider “the story behind the story,” she cautions. Young, Fabulous and Self-employed
Who built what? It’s a chicken and egg argument. While it’s certainly true that government expenditures for infrastructure from highways to the Internet help entrepreneurs create and sustain businesses, it’s also true that the money for these projects comes from taxes paid by those businesses in the first place, writes blogger Erica Holloway. BlogHer
That nobody can deny. The core idea of the President’s statement, that everyone has been helped by someone else on their way to being successful, is something no one can deny. But that doesn’t mean the people we owe our success to are politicians sitting in Washington, says Professor Richard Grant, nor should it. Forbes
Much ado about nothing. The problem with the debate over who really creates business success however, completely misses the point, says business advocate Nelson Davis. Here in the U.S., small businesses have traditionally viewed government as a support system for their operations, but certainly not as the agent responsible for their success. The Huffington Post
We’re not alone. According to another recent poll, 72 percent of Americans believe small business owners are responsible for their own success. Rasmussen Report