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You didn’t build that: Obama and Elizabeth Warren argue against any limiting principle to Big Government

Elizabeth Warren campaign web site

Elizabeth Warren campaign web site

From the Boston Herald:

Elizabeth Warren yesterday came to the defense of her former boss President Obama’s controversial statement that businesses’ owners can’t take credit for their success, repeating her own campaign line that, “nobody got rich on their own.”

Warren’s reiteration of her statement — which became an iconic and controversial cornerstone of her campaign — comes as conservatives have leapt on Obama for saying “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

Warren said during a campaign stop in Dorchester yesterday, “I think the basic notion is right. Nobody got rich on their own. Nobody. People worked hard, they build a business, God bless, but they moved their goods on roads the rest of us helped build, they hired employees the rest of us helped educate, they plugged into a power grid the rest of us helped build,” she said.

“The rest of us made those investments because we wanted businesses to flourish, we wanted them to grow, we wanted them to create opportunity for all of us. That’s what we do together. We get richer as a country when we make those investments.”

Again, the straw man argument is repeated. Conservatives and other promoters of free enterprise are anarchists who don’t believe in government and the idea of public goods. You know, people like Paul Ryan, whose Path to Prosperity budget — also more or less the Romney plan — would spend $20 trillion on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security over the next decade. But because it would not spend $21 trillion as Obama would, Ryan is a Social Darwinist.

Also, according to Obama and Warren, folks in private enterprise don’t believe they should pay taxes to pay for those public goods. Yet the top 1% already pay 40% of the income taxes despite earning just 20% of national income. Again, under the Ryan plan, government would still collect $37 trillion in taxes over the next decade. But because it would not collect $39 trillion, Ryan believes in a dog-eat-dog, You’re On Your Own Society.

What Obama and Warren are really doing is making the case that successful Americans really didn’t earn their success — or did earn enough of it to escape huge tax increases to pay for a greatly expanded social welfare state. Blogger Dan McLaughlin yesterday had a great series of tweets on this:

– Point of Obama’s “you didn’t build it” is to reverse the presumption that your $ is your property. It has no limiting principle.

– Obama is also drawing on a long tradition, esp. in legal academia, of trying to define property rights as gifts state lets you keep.

– The parties have genuine differences on the extent to which govt must justify its exactions from taxpayers. Obama is trying to lower bar.

– This is not a misunderstanding; if you convince people that success has little to do w/work & merit, you justify more burdens on successful.

– Romney’s position is Lockean: govt must exist so others can’t steal fruits of your efforts. But it’s not the cause of success.

– It is, moreover, one of the few philosophical arguments that Mitt Romney is actually equipped & willing to make.

Yes, the election is about the economy. But not just whether it is getting better or worse and how much credit or blame Obama deserves. This election is also about how America will organize itself economically going forward. A top-down state capitalism focusing on redistribution or a bottom-up market capitalism that promotes innovation as the path to prosperity.

3 thoughts on “You didn’t build that: Obama and Elizabeth Warren argue against any limiting principle to Big Government

  1. Obama 2008: “Yes we can”
    Obama 2012: “No you didn’t”
    Election2012 Capitalism or Socialism. Your choice.
    Let America Be America again, Vote Romney 2012!

  2. Warren says and I quote. “the factory owner would not have a business because the rest of us paid for the roads” The rest of us? Didn’t the factory owner pay his share? As ridiculous as this comment is, at least she could of said “that all of us paid for” instead of “the rest of us”. In fact, not only does the factory owner pay taxes, all of his employees also pay taxes. Therefore, the road to the factory was in fact paid for by the factory owner. Dare I say if not for successful people paying their taxes we would not have any roads. Oh! I forgot. We would just borrow the money from China to build the roads. If you haven’t heard of China, its’ the country Warren wants us to be more like.

  3. “You didn’t build that” I didn’t physically build roads and bridges but I sure did pitch in a hell of a lot of money to have them built. Obama says “you didn’t get there without teachers”. My real estate tax bill has been very high and paid it over the last 25+ years so I did in fact pay for my teacher. “My business will not work without roads”. My business is successful. I pay more in taxes than the average person. Therefore, I pitch in for said roads more than the average person. He tries to make it sound like all this stuff is free. WE paid for it all. In fact, if it wasn’t for all the government corruption, we would have solid gold highways.

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