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Bonner Column: Business Success Impossible Without Government?


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President Obama has been known for his frequent use of a teleprompter to deliver even the simplest of speeches. However, he recently took to the road sans his teleprompter to boast of his administration's accomplishments. In Virginia, Mr. Obama let down his guard and revealed his true feelings about the primacy of government in our society.

Before an audience of supporters, President Obama fired a shot at America's economic engine -- the millions of jobs providers who struggle each day to remain profitable in spite of increasing government regulations and the threat of higher taxes. In so many words, he reminded our country's small business owners that their success was not their own.

"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. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. 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."

In the days since the president's comments, the White House has tried to walk back his statement. To the nation's entrepreneurs however, his comments speak for themselves. The National Federation of Independent Business, a group representing small businesses, responded: "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."

We all can acknowledge that local, state, and federal governments have played a role in protecting our communities and in laying the foundation for clean water, roads and other infrastructure. From educating children, to providing fire and rescue services, we are undeniably linked to many invaluable government services.

Yet the president's remarks suggest that government itself was the critical catalyst for the spark of ingenuity or the extra motivation of a successful businessperson. Americans who have been able to build a business share a mindset that millions of immigrants brought with them since this country was founded. They came here not for our roads and bridges or other government services; they came to America because of the equal playing field of opportunity that exists here. No matter who you are, or where you come from, you have a chance to succeed.

If the president believes that government plays a vital role in making every business successful it is not surprising that he has embarked on a journey to take back from those same businesses. He has made clear his plans to raise taxes on Americans earning more than $250,000 a year come January 1, 2013.

Whether you believe government is the cure all or not, it should be self-evident that raising taxes on businesses during a recession will only hurt working Americans. A recent study by Ernst & Young concluded that Mr. Obama's tax increase would shrink our economy by 1.3 percent, lower wages by 1.8 percent and lead to 710,000 fewer jobs.

After three and a half years of unemployment above eight percent, the president refuses to concede that big government spending and regulating is not the answer to revive our weak economy. If he wants to put Americans to work, the president can join the House in supporting a full extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, and he can urge Senator Reid to vote on the more than 30 job bills the House has passed since January 2011.

Defense Bill Includes Ship Buys for AUSTAL's LCS and JHSV:

Last Thursday, the House passed the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2013, including funding for continued Navy shipbuilding at Mobile's Austal USA.

The defense bill funds the construction of two additional Littoral Combat Ships and one Joint High Speed Vessel, each manufactured at Austal. Austal currently has a contract with the Navy to produce up to ten LCSs, four of which have been paid for, and ten JHSVs, all ten having now been bought by the Navy once this legislation becomes law.

Furthermore, the House-passed defense bill includes language I originally authored in 2011 ordering the Pentagon to regularly report to Congress all Boeing KC-46A aerial refueling tanker contract modifications exceeding $5 million.

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