The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), the nation’s leading bipartisan small-business advocacy group, has released a statement criticizing President Obama for saying that it’s only through the grace of government that anyone has ever succeeded.
“What a disappointment to hear President Obama’s revealing comments challenging the significance of America’s entrepreneurs,” NFIB President Dan Danne said in a statement to Mail Online.
“His unfortunate remarks over the weekend show an utter lack of understanding and appreciation for the people who take a huge personal risk and work endless hours to start a business and create jobs,” he added.
President Obama argued during his speech Friday night in Roanoke, Va., that entrepreneurs only succeed when government lets them, saying: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
“You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, ‘well, it must be because I was just so smart,'” he added.
With language like that, it’s not really surprising that small-business advocacy groups are a little, um, “irate.”
“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,” an NFIB spokesman said.
“They know that hard work does matter,” he added. “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.”
Founded in 1943, the NFIB boasts of over 350,000 members and is officially a non-partisan organization (although it does contribute to Republican candidates).
Later in his speech, as the Daily Mail notes, the president tried to explain his view of the economy via an example involving state-run emergency programs: “There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.”
The president’s “you couldn’t do anything without the state” speech draws a clear contrast between him and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The president’s comments “reflect just how unqualified he is to lead us to a real economic recovery” and were “insulting to the hardworking entrepreneurs, small-business owners, and job creators who are the backbone of our economy,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.
That is to say, we can probably expect the Romney campaign to go after the president’s Elizabeth Warren-esque speech as the election starts to really heat up.
This story has been updated.