Mr. President: the tinkerers, dreamers and small-business owners built America.

President Obama was asked in a recent interview what mistakes he made in his first term.  His response was revealing. He said that while he has no doubts about his policies, he should have done a better job of “telling a story.”

It’s not that the Stimulus was a trillion-dollar flop. It’s not that his health care reform is a mudslide of new taxes and regulations that is paralyzing employers.  It’s not that his energy policies have choked off American production


The President’s only mistake is having failed to tell us a story.  A story!  I guess because charts and statistics and facts are too confusing.

Here’s a story for the President:

Once upon a time there was a great nation, unique in the history of mankind because of its faith in free people to govern themselves and because of its institutional hostility to government. Its fathers rebelled against the mightiest military power on Earth and won their Independence.

Here in Pennsylvania they conceived and debated and perfected a governing system, radical for its time and still the boldest political experiment ever undertaken, based on liberty and self determination.

Freedom, in other words, would be the organizing principle. Central to that freedom according to the founders was the freedom to prosper.  Americans would be distinguished, therefore, not on the basis of heredity or nobility or cast, but on the basis of their individual merit.

They would choose their own occupation and rise as high as their native abilities would take them.  And rise they did.

Who better than our own Benjamin Franklin exemplifies this? From apprentice to printer to publisher to inventor to philanthropist to international diplomat.  From the middling class, as he called it, came the country’s intellectual vigor, its ambition, its moral core and its economic strength.

It wasn’t the unions that created the middle class, as the President often suggests.  It was the tinkerers and dreamers who built the small businesses that became large companies that hired the workers that formed the unions.

And it most certainly wasn’t the government, as he argued last week in his now infamous “You Didn’t Build That” speech.

What an utterly preposterous notion:  The idea that your success as a business person is owed not to your hard work or investment or imagination or perseverance or the wisdom that you gained from successive failures.  Rather, it is owed to the politicians and bureaucrats and regulators whose existence you make possible.

That speech, I am convinced, will be identified by historians as the most consequential speech of his first term as President.  Not because of its poetry or weight, but because of its clumsy honesty.

The idea that government is at the center of America’s success can only be held by someone who has never lived a day in the private sector — never had to live with the government he loves.

President Obama doesn’t understand the economy because to him, the government is the economy.

Mr. President, the tinkerers and dreamers and small-business owners built America.

Everything that has ever moved us forward — every cure, every invention, every improvement in the human condition — is the product of a free economy powered by free people. Built by them too are the roads and bridges and schools and every other public accommodation that makes better the lives of Americans.

These businesses are struggling under the threat of a behemoth federal bureaucratic regulatory tidal wave that grows larger every day. Election Day 2012 actually may determine whether that tidal wave of more than 4,100 new federal regulations washes over the American economy.

With an estimated cost of more than half a trillion dollars, the threat of Obama’s Regulatory Tidal Wave already has impacted small businesses across America. New business formation is at a 25 year low.  And 50-percent of the businesses that are not hiring have cited the cost of government regulation as the reason they will not hang job opening signs in their store windows.

In Pennsylvania, Over 1 million people who work in Pennsylvania’s major industries could be impacted by this tidal wave of regulations, at a cost of over $106 billion of Pennsylvania’s gross state product. That’s in addition to the half million Pennsylvanians that already are unemployed and 94,000 manufacturing jobs that have been lost since 2007.

The NFIB has launched a campaign to stop the tidal wave of federal regulations from crashing onto small business owners and washing out millions of American jobs.

We need to fight for smarter regulations that protect the environment, workers, and American jobs and stop this looming regulatory tidal wave before it does irreversible damage to our economy.

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About Kevin Shivers

PA state director for the small business group NFIB. Social media enthusiast & new triathlete. Check us out at
This entry was posted in Pennslyvania, Small Business and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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