In the Arena

Who Built I-80? Obama Talks about Public Works, Conservatives Fumble

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There are, Lord knows, reasons to attack or criticize Barack Obama. The Republican Party seems unable to locate the President’s actual deficits, however, and continues to hammer him on dumb things. Like the notion that he isn’t really an American. Or they take things he says out of context. For example, this now semi-famous statement: “If you’ve got a business–you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

Now let’s take a look at what the President actually did say, in context:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

Clearly, and I mean this is pretty obvious, the President is not saying that businessmen aren’t responsible for building their businesses. He is saying that government is responsible for building the highways and airports and information superhighways like the internet that help business do business. This is not an anti-business statement. It is a pro-government statement (and pro-government statements are not necessarily anti-business–just ask any local Chamber of Commerce that gets government grants for civic improvement). Furthermore, the President is supporting the sort of government that free market champions going back to Adam Smith have favored. Indeed, Smith is on the record in favor of taxes–more immediately, tolls–to pay for these public works:

A highway, a bridge, a navigable canal, for example, may in most cases be both made and maintained by a small toll upon the carriages which make use of them: a harbour, by a moderate port-duty upon the tonnage of the shipping which load or unload in it. The coinage, another institution for facilitating commerce, in many countries, not only defrays its own expense, but affords a small revenue or seignorage to the sovereign. The post-office, another institution for the same purpose, over and above defraying its own expense, affords in almost all countries a very considerable revenue to the sovereign.

The ahistorical extremists who call themselves conservatives are, of course, blocking bills that would furnish funds to repair roads and bridges, and also the post office, and–another “of course” seems necessary here–they are blocking any effort to raise tolls to pay for them. They are panicky right now because Mitt Romney’s furtive behavior is hurting their party and so they’re trotting out this sloppy crap. Arguments can be made about this Administration’s anti-business actions, especially when it comes to the sclerotic regulatory morass and the byzantine tax code, but no one seems to be making them.

PHOTOS: Political Pictures of the Week, July 7-13

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Kim Claeys
Kim Claeys

Roads and bridges and government research is paid for by tax money. Therefore, if a person doesn't open a business, jobs are not created and there is no tax money generated to build said bridges and roads. Oh, and the internet was NOT invented to help businesses grow online, it was invented for defense purposes.

Sam Newman Carter
Sam Newman Carter

I am seriously concerned about a lot of antigovernment speech being said lately. Where was all this talk when Bush was POTUS? All of you say government isnt a good for you but picture this.....no police, no fire, no hospitals, no schools, no roads, and no jobs. Anarchy. Republicans seriously want anarchy. They say just what is in the constitution should be offered but the constitution doesnt guarantee too much of anything but a Congress with seemingly unlimited power, a military, and basic personal freedoms. 

James
James

my friend's

half-sister makes $80 hourly on the laptop. She has been fired from work

for 5 months but last month her pay was $15788 just working on the

laptop for a few hours. Read more on this site

http://www.LazyCash49.com

James
James

my buddy's

aunt makes $65/hr on the internet. She has been without a job for nine

months but last month her income was $12088 just working on the internet

for a few hours. Here's the site to read more

http://www.LazyCash49.com

gwdezz
gwdezz

The government is the people... We need to stop thinking about the government as an entity. It is representative of the people. Whatever gets built by public programs is from the people and taxes etc are borne by the public and that is the people. President Obama needs to remember that the government's existence is a by product of it's citizens. The wishes of the people need to be adhered to. Governments and it's employees are civil servants working at the will of the people.

As for private health care... that is a misnomer.... so many government premiums are paid to insurers that we are not really participating in a free healthcare system that is produced by demand. Government directly or indirectly pay over 75% of all premiums in the US... Supreme Court, Congress, Legislators,  Medicare, medicaid, military, military contractors, state governments, local governments and welfare recipients, disability recipients, children under government protection, prisoners and ..... etc. and let's talk about Conflict of Interest....??? Let's talk about every government employee deciding how we buy and pay for health insurance, when every single one of them will never have to deal with the penalty part of this law because taxpayers fund their benefits... SO SHOULD THEY NOT ALL RECUSE THEMSELVES FROM the debate simply by conflict of interest alone. This should be brought to a national vote, simply because everyone making the decision does not participate in any way, because all their premiums are paid by the government (taxes of the people). Bring it to a NATIONAL VOTE....

demna
demna

"Who Built I-80??

Tax payers did, that's who.

mkelter2011
mkelter2011

Joe:  You need to stick to things you know, which isn't much.

For the record, I-80 was built by the various states along the route.   It was not built by the US Government which does own and maintain many roads in the US to this day.

Because Washington does so little to improve American infrastructure, it makes little sense that Washington should impose such a large portion of the gas taxes on American drivers,  skim such a huge cut of that money to support the DC gluttony, and leave so little for road improvements on Main Street.

Thanks to Congressman John Mica and other House Republicans,  at least 80% of gas tax will be returned to the States where it belongs, as a result of the new Transporation Bill.  This is an improvement from the 60% that is currently returned.

Gas taxes are not an entitlement to big-butt bureaucrats at 1200 New Jersey Avenue, Washington, DC.   Transportation is better left to the States and local governments instead of pouring it into a sinkhole in the District of Corruption.

paddyomalley
paddyomalley

I wouldn't mind a public works program if the public actually worked.  I wouldn't mind it if 90% of the working population paid taxes.  I wouldn't mind it if welfare receipients paid taxes on their gifts of food stamps, medical, housing, cell phones and service, outright cash grants, etc. but they don't,  even though their, "take home," outstrips actual workers in the 15% bracket. 

rdw56
rdw56

Tax rates are not going up.  Obama hasn't the skill to sell high rates nor the political talent to pass such legislation.   He had 60 Senators in 2010 and was unable to even get a vote on a tax increase on just millionaires.   The fabulous irony is Obama's own committee's recommendation of tax reform with lower rates for ALL is going to be passed with bi-partisan support in early 2013.  CA is not going to have the money to build even 1/10 of the planned line and just that segment will run constant deficits.  Obama has done the great service of proving big govt running large deficits and making economic decisions is a loser.     Mitt is going to put us back on a path of less govt and more freedom.  He will support expanded drilling and more trade.  After freezing spending and a few years of 4% growth the deficit will melt away.  In the 1st two years he'll average 200K jobs a month for 4.8M private sector jobs and no govt jobs.   Expanding the private sector relative to the public sector is by itself good for economic growth.  The key is holding spending down until GDP catches up and then holding increases to the inflation rate.   By the start of his 2nd term Mitt will have unemployment down to 6% and the deficit below the postwar average.   In growing govt at a 1% inflation rate while GDP expands by 3% he is actually shrinking govt relative to the private economy.  It's all win/win.  

ahandout
ahandout

Joe don't you love how millions of dollars in federal funds trickles down to corrupt city and county officials who waste it, use it to pay off their political debts and find ways to pocket some.

Here we have the Mayor of bankrupt San Bernardino CA who is also president of the SBIA.  Never heard of it?  The failed airport is in a bankrupt city run by the same guy and nobody has heard of it.  Anyway, the airport has blown 142 million dollars on really smart decisions, such as: Why buy new when you can buy used equipment for the same price?  The equipment isn't needed anyway, but hey it's not my money. 

This is how federal funds work at the local level.  You know, think Chicago.  It's the same in city after city.  Big federal money draws the scammers out of the woodwork.

http://cgja.blogspot.com/2011/...

ahandout
ahandout

There is a railroad yard in Colton CA about 60 miles east of LA.  Obama gave them millions despite the fact that the railyard had no use for the money and didn't know what to do with it.  Five miles north is San Bernardino International Airport.  Never heard of it?  That's because no commercial airline has ever landed there.  But a scam artist got over 100 million to covert the former Air Force Base and "manage" it.  We aren't building freeways with the stimulus money, we are building decorative walls along side the freeways so that when you are stuck in traffic, you can look at the pretty concrete. 

ahandout
ahandout

WTF are you babbling about Klein.  Obama spent at least 1 trillion.  He wasted it on government employee, union workers pensions, aka bail outs of states like California.  He wasted it on Solyndra.   No conservatives "blocked" bills that would build bridges.  Now, California is bankrupt, many cities will file for bankruptcy because Obama enabled the liberals that control the state to kick the can down the road for one more election cycle.  Gutless politicians love free Federal money to CYA. 

sunriser22
sunriser22

 You CONs are funny. You remember every dime spent in the Obama years,( things meant to build up this country) , yet you cant seem to remember all the money waisted by  Bush jr. Two unpaid for wars , the fiasco of the katrina aftermath. The 10 + billion  that Halliburton and other defense contractors "misplaced".

ahandout
ahandout

LMAO: Obama has a new ad attacking Romney.  In the ad it states that Obama didn't say "if you have a business you didn't build that"...then the Obama team posts the very video of Obama saying exactly that in the same ad.

Wow. 

http://freedomoutpost.com/2012...

 

Kevin Groenhagen
Kevin Groenhagen

 Of course, he said. Only in Moonbatville is it considered a conservative "fumble."

Mark Lehrer
Mark Lehrer

What are some examples of these:

"Arguments can be made about this Administration’s anti-business actions, especially when it comes to the sclerotic regulatory morass and the byzantine tax code,"

I am disappointed in Obama because he didn't fix the problems I wanted him to fix, but did he make these problems worse?

Michael Green
Michael Green

Anti-business?  Mr. Klein, quit trying to make yourself appealing to the right side of the Beltway punditocracy and tell the truth, ok?

romano71
romano71

Well, according to republicans, the government should stay out of roads, disaster relief, education, Social safety net, postal services, airports. Government should only take care of Defense, or rather in charge of fighting wars of occupation every time we need to invade a country for oil or any commercial strategic value.

ChowT
ChowT

Like I raq, as how George Bush dumber pronounce it, would be a profitable target.

Ugli Condi, please start writing a thesis on why we need to invade I raq.

Ugli Condi - Yes Sir, right away.

superlogi
superlogi

"We the  people" built and paid for I-80 and the private sector actually constructed it.  With regard to Klein's reinterpretation of what Barry actually said, you'd have to be the most specious conceptualist in the world not to understand that Barry is a big government economic control freak who has absolutely no understanding or appreciation of "free market" capitalism, self initiative and personal responsibility.  In short, he is and has been a Marxist for as least as long as he's been an adult and it just becomes that much clearer as time goes on.  Furthermore, if the buffoon is pro-business, why doesn't business realize it?  In fact, FDR had nothing on Barry and I suspect, given another four years, he might even equal or exceed FDR's bone headed stewardship of the economy.

3xfire3
3xfire3

super,

Excellent and truthful post.

ChowT
ChowT

good enough for you only.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

ahistorical...byzantine...sclerotic...furtive....

Sloppy crap.

paulejb
paulejb

"Amonix closes North Las Vegas solar plant after 14 months, heavy federal subsidies"

http://www.lvrj.com/business/a... 

Perhaps the roads were insufficient despite the $20 million in tax credits and grants. Wonder if Solyndra went belly up because of the lack of roads?

paulejb
paulejb

"Romney Pounces on Six-Month Lapse in Obama Jobs Council Meetings"

“You know what he's been doing over the last six months?" Romney asked in a crowded gymnasium at a community center here. “In the last six months he has held 100 fundraisers. And guess how many meetings he has had with his jobs council? None. Zero. Zero in the last six months.” 

http://nationaljournal.com/201... 

The boy wonder wasn't building any roads in the last six months.

paulejb
paulejb

Liberals have the quaint notion that there were no businesses in America until the federal government came along to build a road. 

Roads and bridges are built with the taxes paid by businesses big and small. The government has no money to build anything until it receives it in the form of taxes on the productive members of society.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

I see that your totally oblivious to where the concept of 'land ownership' originates.