Bob Goodlatte’s Response to President Obama’s Roanoke Address

What Built America

At an event in Roanoke last week, President Obama made a telling statement. “If you’ve got a business,” he said to a crowd of cheering supporters, “you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” It’s an admission that serves as a window into President Obama’s impression of America, and it explains many of his decisions as President.

In the President’s eyes, it’s the government that is responsible for the accomplishments of the American people; individuals play some role, of course, but it’s federal bureaucracy that is the backbone of our economy.  According to Barack Obama, the one thing a small business owner should never forget is that he or she owes the government for their good fortune.

It’s on this basis that President Obama justifies his proposed tax hike on people earning over $250,000. It’s not that he doesn’t know that most small businesses file under the individual tax code. It’s not that he doesn’t understand that the small businesses that create the most American jobs are also the ones that will be hit hardest by his tax proposals. He is well aware of those facts. Barack Obama is willing to tax job creators because he believes they have a debt to their federal government, one he wants them to pay. In Barack Obama’s view, small business owners are akin to free-loaders, living off the largess of Washington, D.C. while refusing to contribute their fair share.

Barack Obama’s personal experiences have no doubt shaped his view. During his term as President, the cronyism between his administration and corporate entities has been unprecedented. In Virginia, for example, the General Services Administration (GSA) provided the highest contract price to companies on a project to increase the energy efficiencies of the Richard H. Poff Federal Building in downtown Roanoke before the bidding process had even begun, resulting in the waste of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars.

With regard to specific companies such as Solyndra, Fisker, Bright Source Energy, and First Wind, the Obama administration has repeatedly picked winners and losers. The President has shoveled out hundreds of millions of dollars to these companies, most of them connected to donors who have given generously to the President’s campaign.

Many of these companies have become infamous, symbols of failure and governmental waste. Solyndra is bankrupt. Fisker‘s success can only be found in Finland where Finnish workers build Fisker automobiles.

These particular companies, it’s true, owe much—if not all—of their success to the federal government. But that’s not true of most American businesses.  Yes, government can help create an environment conducive to job creation. But it cannot build the businesses.  It cannot put in the late hours and the hard work that is necessary to make them grow. That’s the job of the American people, whether President Obama recognizes it or not.

People like Mitt Romney, however, believe that our entrepreneurs, our small businesses, our captains of free enterprise, and great American workers are what made our economy prosper. They have built this country on good ideas, fearless decisions to take risks, and a willingness to work hard. They invest money into their dreams, but it’s their blood and sweat that ultimately determines their success.

This distinction between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, more than any other, defines the choice in this election. What is the strength of this country? What made it great? Was it the federal government and the ever increasing bureaucracy it has created? Or was it the men and women from around this nation who had a dream and acted on it?

That’s the question that every American will have to answer when they decide how to vote this November. The answer they choose will define our country for not only the next four years, but for a generation. No election in my lifetime has been more important.