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Public Statements

Americans Hold the Key to the American Dream-Not Government

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. FOXX. Mr. Speaker, I couldn't believe my ears last Friday when President Obama made the revealing statement: if you have a business, you didn't build that. Someone else made that happen.

The President's decision to speak as an authority on the private sector, where he has never staked his own livelihood, is baffling. The takeaway from his speech may be boiled down to this: it's not your smarts; it's not your work ethic. If not for the government, where would you be?

Ask the entrepreneur who has taken real risk if that rings true. Ask the small business owner who took out a second mortgage to get his company off the ground. Ask those who wakened before dawn to fire up the ovens at their bakery or to tend to the needs on their farm. Was Washington a co-laborer in their work? Should Washington claim any credit for their success? Job creators stake their own money and security on their ventures and most do so without the safety net of a government grant or bailout.

In America, not everyone chooses to take those risks and join the ranks of job creators; and among those who do, not everyone succeeds. But that is the symptom of a choice-driven free market and part of the beauty of our country. That is why our Declaration itemizes as one of our inalienable rights the pursuit of happiness. This is the understanding that the American Dream looks different for everyone and that through hard work, talent, choice, and opportunity, so too will its results.

Inherent in the American psyche is the belief that hard work can change the course of a person's life. I know that to be true in my own life; and 63 percent of Americans share that belief, as opposed to 37 percent of French, 45 percent of Dutch, and 46 percent of Norwegians. That hope in hard work is among our country's greatest assets, and it is a tragedy that the principle was so diminished by our White House.

You see, Mr. Speaker, I have a background as a small businesswoman. Together with my husband, Tom, we built an independent nursery and landscaping business in North Carolina more than 30 years ago, and it's still in our family today. I've seen what it takes to keep a small business afloat. The hours are long, the strain on the family can be significant, and you live with the knowledge that one sustained economic downturn could spell the end of your life's work.

No one from the government was there when my husband and I worked in the rain and snow to finish jobs so we could get paid, or cut Christmas trees and load them when the temperature was so brutally cold we could hardly tie knots to keep them on a truck. No one from government was there in the wee hours of the morning when we were doing our regular jobs while at the same time working to start our business.

Small businesses operate in a world of bottom lines Washington knows very little about. Unlike Washington, they don't have the luxury to deficit spend, print more money, or profess as ``spending cuts'' lower-than-anticipated growth.

When the President claimed the American system ``allowed'' the successful to thrive, he made a dangerous error. Government doesn't allow its citizens to thrive, nor does it ``enable'' them to thrive or ``permit'' them to thrive. That language suggests government is a benefactor possessing the authority to give or take the blessings of open commerce as it sees fit. No, government does not ``allow'' you to thrive. Government, when it operates in its constitutional capacity, does not obstruct your thriving.

Ask small business owners today and they will likely tell you they exist in spite of government's burdens and interference. Government already obligates small businesses to pay more than $10,000 per employee each year to comply with Federal regulations. That is money they are not directing toward hiring new employees. But even with that knowledge, Washington's regulatory tsunami continues. So do the taxes.

In a faltering economy, job creation is of paramount importance; and when
you raise taxes in a faltering economy, job creation is thwarted. The President acknowledged as much in 2009, but his policies run to the contrary.

Perhaps the President's lack of familiarity with running a business in a recession is responsible for his insistence on increasing taxes on 940,000 small business tax filers in 2013. Perhaps it's because he doesn't know the ins and outs of private sector creation that he's willing to risk 710,000 American jobs on his tax crusade. We who know the private sector want to spare him that lesson. Taxes will devastate our economy. To grow it, every American should benefit from an extension of tax relief.

Mr. Speaker, Washington didn't buy the American Dream for the millions of small businesses that comprise the backbone of our economy. Nor did Washington show up sick when a shift needed to be covered, miss soccer games because a shipment had to be received, or work graveyard because someone had to do it. Americans did that.

Too quickly we forget that everything the government has it takes from taxpayers; and if taxpayers do poorly, so does the government. So Washington must remain mindful. If the policies it imposes make it harder for small businesses to grow and create jobs, and eliminate their ability to invest, it is Washington that will find itself in crisis as it is now.


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