Truncated or no, Obamas remarks have become a rallying cry for Romney and other Republican candidates who disdain big government and embrace the up-by-your-bootstraps ideal of American entrepreneurship.
Its a great ideal, but its not true, said Darrell West, the vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, a policy research center in Washington. A lot of companies and businesses get help. Government builds the infrastructure; the government helps in about every sector.
Sher Valenzuela, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Delaware, disagrees. She joined Fallin in the parade of Republicans at the convention who blasted Obamas remark.
Valenzuela offered herself as Exhibit A that its people, not government, who grow successful businesses. She and her husband took their upholstery company, First State Manufacturing, from a kitchen table idea to a business with 70 employees and a 70,000-square-foot factory.
We defied the odds, Valenzuela told conventioneers. We rolled the dice on losing or gaining everything. We didnt listen to the experts. We grew our dream.
But she didnt mention that the federal government had helped them achieve their dream through small business loans and government contracts. According to The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., First State Manufacturing began with the help of a $25,000 federal loan and survives on government contracts.
The paper reported that the business financed its huge factory with a $301,000 loan backed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, part of Obamas federal stimulus bill. In addition, the company has received $15.2 million in federal government contracts, largely from the Defense Department, since 2001.
Valenzuela put together a PowerPoint presentation last May for Wilmington Women in Business titled Connecting, Networking and Succeeding: How I Did it and You Can Too.
Bidding on government contracts has never been easier, and its getting easier all the time, a section of the presentation reads. Thats because government agencies are mandated to work with all small businesses. ... Thats why nearly all government agencies have special small business programs to ensure success of business owners just like you.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., continued with the theme Wednesday night, accusing Obama of insulting every American who ever got up at the crack of dawn ... any American who ever put on overalls or a suit.
When the president says, You didnt build that, he is flat out wrong, Paul said. Businessmen and women did build that. Businessmen and women did earn their success. Without the success of American business we wouldnt have any roads or bridges or schools.