The line at the community food pantry extends around the block on a blustery, fall day in Pittsburgh, Pa. Some of those in line traveled on a bus for miles to stock up on food for their children for the week. Thankfully, public transportation is available for these individuals to reach the food pantry, but many in line are unable to find transportation to the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain a valid photo ID for the upcoming Presidential elections.
Chelsea Holmes, a 25-year-old graduate student and food pantry volunteer says, “Many of the people I serve do not have valid forms of photo ID. They use public transportation to and from work and cannot afford a car (therefore no driver’s license) or a passport. In order to go to the DMV, they would have to take at least a 45 minute bus ride and/or take off work. It just is not feasible for some people.”
On Tuesday, October 2, 2012, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson ruled the controversial voter ID law requirement will be postponed from taking effect for this year’s upcoming Presidential elections. Although voters will be asked to show their ID, they will not be required to present a valid photo ID until next year.
This decision marks the end of a controversial debate plaguing the state of Pennsylvania since March of 2012 when Governor Tom Corbett and Republican House Majority leader Mike Turzai passed the bill that would require all Pennsylvania voters to provide a valid photo ID in order to cast their vote. Controversy erupted when Turzai said the new law would “allow Governor Mitt Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania” in the upcoming Presidential election.
After this statement many voters felt the bill was a Republican tactic to prevent registered democratic voters from voting for President Obama in the upcoming election.
Independent voter and stay at home mother Erin Zowacki says, “If the law was based on preventing fraud, it would have either been proposed right after the last election or since the law passed recently, it shouldn’t take effect until the 2016 election. They must think that they have an advantage by having the law passed and implemented immediately.”
But Republican voters disagree and believe that the voter ID law was long overdue. If you have to present a photo ID to cash a check, get a library card, buy alcohol and cigarettes, and use a credit card, you should be required to present ID for something as important as voting for the President of the United States of America.
Self-identified conservative Greg Higgins from Mount Pleasant, PA says, “Verification of who you are cannot merely be done by the people who man the polling places, you could very easily sign for someone under a different name. This small matter of showing a valid photo ID, which is provided free of charge, is a very simple way of verifying you are who you say you are. This requirement for a photo ID does not exclude anyone who is eligible to vote.”
But 30-year-old Counselor and registered Democrat Jennifer Conte disagrees. She says, “None of the other activities mentioned above are rights. Voting is a right, not a privilege. Additionally, cashing a check, using credits and many other activities are highly cultural. There are many groups of people that do not do these activities on a regular basis.”
With regards to why the law implementation is being postponed, Judge Simpson stated, “”I am still not convinced … that there will be no voter disenfranchisement…”
Adam Raviart, a 30-year-old registered Democrat agrees that the new law will disenfranchise voters. He says, “I feel this will affect low income individuals, senior citizens, minorities and people with disabilities. I feel this new law may cause some people to become frustrated and simply not attempt to vote. This law will strip certain citizen’s from their right to vote for their president.”
But registered Republican Julianne Cochran disagrees. The 48-year-old Certified Nurse Practitioner says, “I do not believe anyone will be disenfranchised by this law. If someone is going to enact their constitutional right to vote then I don’t believe anything will stand in their way. You will always have those individuals that choose not to enact their right, but place the blame on everyone else knowing that they wouldn’t have voted anyway.”
Cochran also states, “it will certainly decrease the amount of voter ID fraud that currently takes place in some areas of the country.” But many investigations into the prevalence of voter ID fraud come up short.
CBS Evening News reporter Elaine Quijano investigated how many reported cases of fraud there have been. In her August 15th report she says, “We looked at those 10 states which recently passed photo ID laws and found fewer than 70 voter fraud convictions in the past decade among 40 million registered voters.”
Phil Hirschkorn of CBS news reported on September 28, 2012 “In Pennsylvania, the state stipulated there have been no cases of voter fraud in the past decade.”
But the absence of convictions, those in favor of the voter ID law say, does not mean that voter ID fraud isn’t taking place. It just means the individuals aren’t being caught or prosecuted.
A 33-year-old Pittsburgh Police officer who asked to be identified as “Stephen” is a registered Democrat; however, he says, “Being able to prove you are who you say you are, especially when participating in one of the most important actions that we do as citizens, is important.”
So the debate among voters will continue on beyond the Presidential election of 2012. There is not strong evidence that voter fraud is committed on a regular basis in the state of Pennsylvania. Conversely, it is not clear how many individuals who would actually vote would be impacted by this law.
So, for now, the only clear fact we know prior to the impending election is that those planning on voting in the state of Pennsylvania this November will be asked to provide identification, but it will not be required to cast their vote this year.
By Stacey J Haseleu
Throughout the course of Wednesday’s Presidential debate, Mitt Romney made it abundantly clear that his talking point for Medicare was a broken-record account of Obama’s $716 billion dollar cut.
In fact, the transcripts of the debate show that Romney mentioned “$716 billion” and “Medicare” in the same sentence 10 times (yes, I counted) throughout the course of the 90-minute debate. He said, “What I support is no change for current retirees and near-retirees to Medicare and the president supports taking $716 billion out of that program.” (http://www.wnyc.org/npr_articles/2012/oct/03/transcript-first-obama-romney-presidential-debate/)
While it is true that President Obama will cut $716 billion of spending from Medicare over the next 10 years, this figure in and of itself is misleading and does not represent why the money was cut, the implications of the cut, or even what the heck a “cut” actually means.
Mitt Romney insinuated that the $716 billion dollar cut would negatively impact Medicare recipients; however, Factcheck.org’s article entitled “Medicare’s Piggy Bank,” states, “…the opposite is true. These cuts in the future growth of spending prolong the life of the Medicare trust fund, stretching the program’s finances out longer than they would last otherwise.”. (http://www.factcheck.org/2012/08/medicares-piggy-bank/)
To fully understand how the cuts actually benefit Medicare, it’s important to first understand the basics of Medicare. Medicare has four parts: Part A (hospital insurance), Part B (medical insurance), Part C (Medicare advantage plans), and Part D (prescription drug coverage). Part A is at no cost to retirees and is what people pay for through their FICA payroll tax. These payments are placed into a treasury fund. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Insurance_Contributions_Act_tax)
While voters believe that the money they contribute through each paycheck is being kept in a “piggy bank” somewhere for them when they retire, they are mistaken. The Medicare trust fund works on a “pay-as-you-go” system where funding is taken out on an as-needed basis. Individuals presently in the workforce are actually paying for those currently retired and on Medicare.
With the number of individuals in the workforce disproportionate to the amount of baby boomers on Medicare, there is an extreme financial burden on the Medicare system. Simply put, there isn’t enough funding in the trust to cover benefits.
In fact, the current Medicare Part A trust fund only has around $244.2 billion. Factcheck.org says, “the Part A trust fund was expected to be exhausted in 2016.” (http://www.factcheck.org/2012/08/medicares-piggy-bank/)
To make up for the rapid depletion of funding in Medicare, President Obama implemented cuts to spending. To understand how these cuts affect Medicare more fully, let’s take, for example, a bank account that doesn’t accrue interest. If you have $1200 in a bank account and you take out $100 every month to spend, the account will be empty after 12 months. But if you reduce the amount of money you deduct each month to $50, it will take 24 months to drain the account.
You may be saying, that’s fine if you can reduce the amount you deduct from the account each month, but what happens if you aren’t able to pay for everything you need with only $50 a month? If you need $100 a month and you only take out $50, you have to make a choice. You can either continue to spend $100 a month and run out of funds in a year, or, you can find ways to reduce your spending and receive $50 a month for 2 years.
Like the bank account, if the spending of Medicare continues on the same track, its funding would be depleted by 2016. Obama had a choice; he could either continue to spend and let the funds run out in 2016, or he could reduce the amount of spending and extend the longevity of the funds until the year 2024. He chose to cut spending to increase the longevity of the Medicare treasury.
So what type of “spending” did Obama cut to extend the life expectancy of Medicare? Romney would have you believe the cuts were directly taken from Medicare recipients, but the Congressional Budget Office’s report to Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner indicates that The Affordable Healthcare Act, aka “Obamacare”, diminishes the spending of Medicare Part A through major reductions in payments to hospitals in the amount of $415 billion. (http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43471-hr6079.pdf)
With the cuts, the CBO is estimating that Medicare will not exhaust in 2016. In fact, if the reduction in payments to hospitals continues, Medicare will not exhaust until the year 2024. This means “Obamacare” has actually extended the life expectancy of Medicare by 8 years.
By Stacey J. Haseleu
The 2012 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the public’s opinion on education shows that only 35% of those polled believe the biggest problem is “lack of financial support.” With 26,000 teachers and administrators walking off the job inChicago,IL, the nation’s third largest public school system, it’s hard to believe that the other 65% of those polled do not recognize lack of funding as the biggest issue.
Up until the Chicago strikes, education took a back seat to issues such as the economy, healthcare reform, and the war in the Middle East for the upcoming Presidential election. The strike comes at a time when educational concerns are rising, especially in states such as Pennsylvania, which experienced drastic funding cuts over the last year.
In May 2012, a survey conducted by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials found that during the 2011-2012 school year, education funding was cut by almost $1 billion. As a result, Pennsylvania school districts eliminated more than 14,000 jobs through furloughs or by attrition, leaving the positions of retiring teachers unfilled and increasing class sizes in 70% of the state’s school districts.
Diane Metz, a 30-year-old teacher at a troubled PA high school says, “I have fellow teachers who lost their jobs. I know fellow teachers who felt “forced” to retire. I have a contract with minimal raises over the next three years because the district cannot afford to pay us even cost of living increases.”
The loss of teachers has resulted in larger class sizes for students. Metz says, “I have class sizes of 28-29 students because we do not have the means to hire more teachers.”
With the absence of restored state funding for the 2012-2013 school year, class sizes and the number of unemployed teachers is expected to continue to grow.
Nancy Mesko, a 58-year-old optician blames the state government. She says, “Corbett has taken away much of the funding which eliminated many teachers and cut programs for schools, he also did not apply for the extra funding from the federal government which President Obama offered to the states. It would have helped keep teachers employed.”
Some local school unions are trying to work around the furloughs imposed by the budget cuts. Thomas Nickovich, a 35-year-old teacher says, “I was impacted by having to take a pay freeze for two school years and I will not be able to gain back those two lost years of proper pay increases.”
His wife, former teacher Olivia Nickovich, 34, explains, “The threat of furloughs in the school district caused the union to call for a pay freeze. The teachers voted it in to save jobs.”
Amidst the threat of furloughs and pay freezes, teachers must also struggle to ensure their students meet the requirements of nation-wide standardized testing implemented by former President George W. Bush in 2001 through “No Child Left Behind”. Most teachers admit the stricter standards on testing are improving test scores, but emphasis on testing creates controversy surrounding how children learn and teacher focus.
Kristin Grace, 26, a teacher at a PA charter school says, “I am very against the PSSAs [Pennsylvania System of School Assessment] because I think the tests are ruining the education system. I believe children are being over-tested and we’re starting to leave out all other aspects of learning just to prepare for a test.”
With furloughs, pay freezes, and the stress of getting students to score well on tests, many teachers believe too much emphasis is placed on them and not enough on state and federal governments and the responsibility of parents.
Steve Tomkowitz, a 30-year-old teacher in a troubled PA high school says, “Education as a whole in the state and country needs addressed. Too often I find that teachers are blamed for all the troubles that schools encounter and no blame is placed on societal changes, absentee parenting, and societal values about education.”
By Stacey J. Haseleu
On Monday, September 17th, Mother Jones, a non-profit news organization, posted Governor Mitt Romney’s comments from a leaked video during a $50,000 a plate private Republican fundraiser in May. In his comments, Romney suggests that 47% of American voters do not pay income taxes, are “victims” dependent on government, and that “his job is not to worry about these people.” He said this 47% “will vote for the president no matter what.”
Romney defended his comments in a news conference on Monday evening saying, “It’s a message which I am going to carry and continue to carry.” When asked what he meant by the word “victims,” Romney said, “My campaign is about helping people take more responsibility and becoming employed again, particularly those who don’t have work.”
The Obama campaign used these quotes against Romney’s already shaky campaign. Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager said, “It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.”
Since Romney spoke for nearly 48 minutes on varying subjects, below is the transcript of his comments directly related to the 47% remarks:
Audience member: For the last three years, all everybody’s been told is, “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.” How are you going to do it, in two months before the elections, to convince everybody you’ve got to take care of yourself?
Romney: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 48—he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. And he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not, what it looks like. I mean, when you ask those people…we do all these polls—I find it amazing—we poll all these people, see where you stand on the polls, but 45 percent of the people will go with a Republican, and 48 or 4…
Romney says that the 47% “will vote for the president no matter what.” To evaluate this statement, it’s important to note that since these individuals are not paying federal income taxes, many would fall into a low-income tax bracket.
Additionally, a map released by the Tax Foundation illustrates that the states with the highest percentage of non tax filers (those who don’t pay income taxes) are states that typically vote Republican.
Romney states that 47% of Americans that do not pay federal income tax are “dependent on the government.” A statement that was partially true; however, his comments do not take into consideration which people in our society compose that 47%.
47% equates to approximately 76 million people. Factcheck.org provides a break down of those 76 million people:
The blanket statement that all of the 47% of people “are dependent on federal government” is false. Romney does not take into consideration the individual situations of those who are enrolled in college, senior citizens on Social Security which they paid into all their lives, and even millionaires with tax breaks due to capital gains and dividends.
Further examination of his comments proves that at least a portion of the 47% he states it’s not his job to “worry about” are actually Republican voters.
By Stacey J. Haseleu
Mitt Romney said in an interview with ABC news correspondent George Stephanopoulos on Friday, September 14, “Let me tell you, George, the fundamentals of my tax policy are these. Number one, reduce tax burdens on middle-income people. So no one can say my plan is going to raise taxes on middle-income people, because principle number one is keep the burden down on middle-income taxpayers.”
“Number two, don’t reduce the share of taxes paid by the wealthiest. The top 5% will still pay the same share of taxes they pay today,” he continued.
Romney’s comments on his tax plan come after repeated weeks of attack by both the Democratic Party and media sources criticizing the plan, stating it is mathematically impossible to reduce taxes on both the top income earners as well as the middle class (defined as those making less than $250,000 per year or less) while also reducing the deficit.
Romney’s proposed plan, which, according to the Tax Policy Center (TPC), is estimated to cost $360 billion per year beginning in 2015, would do the following:
Although he does not give specifics, Romney plans on paying for the tax breaks by closing tax loopholes.
During the Democratic National Convention, Vice President Joe Biden said, “Folks, Governor Romney believes it’s OK to raise taxes on middle classes by $2,000 in order to pay for another trillion-dollar tax cut for the very wealthy.”
Biden’s comments were based on an August 1, 2012 analysis of Romney’s individual, corporate, and estate tax plan conducted by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. The report, co-authored by William G. Gale, a former staff economist in President Bush Senior’s White House and Adam Looney a senior economist in Obama’s White House, states, “Our major conclusion is that any revenue-neutral individual income tax change that incorporates the features Governor Romney has proposed would provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers.”
Authors Eugene Kiely and Brooks Jackson of factcheck.org conclude, “Romney is not arguing that more jobs and growth should compensate for a tax system that puts a greater burden, or a larger share of a reduced burden, on middle-income taxpayers. He’s promising that the share of taxes won’t change. He has failed to prove that’s possible. And based on available evidence, we don’t see that it is.”
As Romney has not indicated specifics of which tax loopholes would be eliminated in his plan, his campaign claims that the TPC’s report makes assumptions and does not take into consideration the economic growth that would come from reducing the corporate tax rate to 25%. Romney emphasized his “entire tax plan — including the corporate tax cuts — will be paid for through a combination of cutting spending, broadening the corporate tax base, and placing some curbs on personal tax deductions, exemptions and credits.”
Politifact.com reviewed the TPC’s study and said that it “did make assumptions, but that those assumptions tried to give the Romney campaign the benefit of the doubt.”
William McBride of the Tax Foundation, a pro-business, non-profit organization claims a 1 to 2 percent economic growth would occur by reducing the corporate tax rate; however, he also concurs with the TPC’s analysis that Romney’s plan would benefit mainly high-income earners.
The Brookings Institute and Tax Policy Center, a non-profit, public policy organization based in Washington D.C., conducted a study similar to that of the TPC. Unlike the TPC’s report, Brookings based their study solely on the components of Romney’s plan that were made available. No assumptions were made with regards to which tax loopholes would be closed. They concluded, “It is not mathematically possible to design a revenue-neutral plan that preserves current incentives for savings and investment and that does not result in a net tax cut for high-income taxpayers and a net tax increase for lower- and/or middle-income taxpayers.”
The chart below, part of Brookings Institute’s study, illustrates the projected percent of change in after-tax income after the implementation of Romney’s tax plan.
Those making less than $200,000 will clearly face an after-tax income slash of 1.2% while those making $200,000 and above would see an after-tax income increase ranging from 0.8% up to 4.1%.
The figures above not only show an increase in middle-income tax burden, but they also reflect a decrease in tax burden of the top 5%. Both factors contradict Governor Romney’s September 14th statement that the major fundamentals of his tax plan would “reduce tax burdens on middle-income people” and insure “the top 5% will still pay the same share of taxes they pay today.”
By Stacey J. Haseleu
I’ve never been a numbers person. Math was my absolute worst subject in high school, and I don’t know how I squeaked by in college economics, but during this election, it’s clear that to place a well-informed vote, you have to know a thing or two about numbers. And these aren’t small numbers, we’re talking billions and trillions of dollars multiplied by spending and reduced by revenue and what do you get? A lot of confused Americans who basically just want the easy explanation of all this number malarkey.
The Romney/Ryan campaign would have voters think that Obama has actually caused more debt in the past 4 years than all of former President George W. Bush’s debt in his 8 years combined — which was just about $5 trillion dollars coincidentally. And this claim would appear to check out on first glance.
After all, according to Ezra Klein, in his article in the Washington Post entitled Doing the math on Obama’s deficit, when Obama took office in 2008, the national debt was $10.5 trillion. Today, it tops out at about $15.2 trillion. Anyone that can do simple arithmetic — as we were reminded in Bill Clinton’s speech at the DNC — can see that the clear difference between these two numbers is the addition of about $4.7 trillion dollars of debt.
The Romney/Ryan campaign likes keeping this conversation short, sweet, and to the point. But, is this blanket statement that Obama is responsible for nearly $5 trillion dollars in debt the absolute truth? Did the policies that Obama implemented while in office in just 4 years create $5 trillion in debt?
I went through a mountain of research, read legislative pieces, economic theses and I even think there was some quantum physics in the mix (not really, although it seemed that complicated). I found some really confusing information that, in the end left me asking more questions about what I was actually reading than questions about the deficit debate, but I also found some straight forward, clear information that passes all of my fact check tests. Let me expand on some of the information I found to be factual in all of my research, and you can decide for yourself who is responsible for the copious amount of debt we find America in today.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), during Obama’s administration thus far, he has spent money on the American Investment and Recovery Act ($874 billion), a 2-year extension of former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts ($620 billion), other mandatory spending ($324 billion), and other revenue ($113 billion).
But these figures clearly demonstrate a total spending in the amount of less than $1 trillion. So where, you may be asking, did the other $3.7 trillion dollars of debt come from?
According to Carolyn Cutrone and Steve Rendall, contributing writers of FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting), “the economic crisis has been a huge contribution to the deficit” contributing “34 percent of the 2010 deficit and 28 percent of the 2011 deficit.” Other factors, they included, are the Bush tax cuts ($375 billion this year) and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and increased security post 9/11 ($1.2 trillion cumulative spending).
But the numbers still aren’t adding up, so the CBPP created the chart below illustrating Obama’s contributing factors to the deficit (as well as income that will decrease the deficit) in comparison to policies which were implemented prior to his taking office which are still affecting the national debt. The chart shows the cost of Bush’s policies from 2001 through 2009 as well as Obama’s actual and projected spending cost from 2009 through 2017 (the end of a hypothetical second term).
Not only is the above chart clearly indicative that Obama’s implemented policy costs were slightly less than $1 trillion, but it also illustrates another key point, according to Ezra Klein,
“Obama’s spending is front loaded, and his savings are back loaded. The stimulus bill, for instance, is mostly finished. But the Budget Control Act is expected to save $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years. The health-care law is expected to save more than a trillion dollars in its second decade. If our numbers were extended further, the analysis would have reflected more of Obama’s planned deficit reduction.”
This statement brings up another point of contention. The republican party would have voters believe that Obama will spend exorbitantly if re-elected without reducing the deficit.
Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan stated in his speech at the RNC:
“He [Obama] created a new bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanks them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing. Republicans stepped up with good-faith reforms and solutions equal to the problems. How did the president respond? By doing nothing — nothing except to dodge and demagogue the issue.”
But my fact checking on this statement brings out additional information which is pertinent to the deficit discussion. Ryan, we assume, was referring to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility report which proposed deep spending cuts in domestic and military spending as well as an overhaul of the tax code.
According to factcheck.org, what Ryan failed to mention is that the report received support of only 11 members and needed 18 votes to pass. The democrats opposed changes to Social Security (ie raising the age of eligibility) and republicans (including Ryan) opposed military cuts and tax revenue.
Although Obama did not support the specific recommendations of the report, he has since been working to create legislation that would ultimately reduce the deficit by $3.6 trillion dollars over 10 years.
The package includes spending cuts and tax hikes. You can view the plan in its entirety by clicking here. But I have outlined below how the major components of this plan would bring money back to begin to pay off the horrendous national deficit:
In total, the above legislation would reduce the country’s deficit by $3.6 trillion dollars over the next decade. My hope is the next time you hear propaganda, from either side of the aisle, regarding the nation’s deficit and Obama’s intentions for another 4 years in office, is that you remember this article, refer to it, and, as always CHECK THE FACTS!
By Stacey J. Haseleu
Despite a hurricane and the absence of once key members of the Republican party such as former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and even once loved, Vice Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin, the Republican National Convention did proceed this past week. A series of speakers laid the foundation for Republican nominees Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s platform. But were the bricks of the Republican platform’s foundation built on solid ground? For the purposes of this posting, I would like to focus, as so many of the speakers did, on Obama’s statement “you didn’t build that.”
As Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post states, “From House Speaker John A. Boehner to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to Ann Romney, speaker after speaker made reference to Obama’s statement that “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
But where exactly did this statement come from? And did the speakers at the RNC give this statement fair justice? Or did they take it out of context and spin it until it became unrecognizable to the actual context of Obama’s original quote?
The original statement was made by President Obama on July 13 at a campaign appearance in Roanoke, Virginia. It didn’t take long for the Romney campaign to cash in on the out of context statement. On July 15 Mitt Romney’s campaign posted the video below.
In its 15 second entirety, the heavily edited video features President Obama saying five times, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.”
From there the political faux pas spread like wildfire. On July 20, American Crossroads, a conservative group founded by Karl Rove posted the below web video featuring the President’s comments.
American business owners responded in outrage against the comments, and this gave many of the RNC’s speakers an opportunity to cash in on what could be taken — out of context of course — as a huge blow to American business owners and entrepreneurs alike who worked so hard to build their businesses and ideas from the ground up.
Yet another video, posted by Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, not only edited Obama’s words and statement until the words were completely out of context, but he also compared Obama’s words to Presidents of the past showing a huge juxtaposition between President Obama’s so-called views on free enterprise verses many past, perhaps considered great, Presidents.
But the videos failed to give the complete scope of Obama’s comments. Eugene Kiely posted on factcheck.org the entirety of Obama’s quote in unedited, non-video format. Obama said:
“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your 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. (Applause.)
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.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. 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.
So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President — because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”
What so many failed to realize from the heavily edited videos posted by conservatives in an attempt to propagate the false idea that Obama doesn’t believe in individual accomplishment, is that what President Obama was trying to say is that it takes cooperation by all to build success and that we cannot attribute everything that we (individually or communally) have, to one person; we help one another build and succeed. Everyone does their part in American society.
At no point was President Obama making the point that business owners didn’t build their own businesses or that successful entrepreneurs didn’t deserve credit for the hard work and risk they devoted to make their dreams a reality. Still as Peter Baker, a former correspondent with the Washington Post, tweeted, “If Obama had a nickel for every time a Republican quoted his “didn’t build it” line, that would take care of the whole national debt problem.”
Knowing the full context of President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” quote discredits the speakers at the Republican National Convention. If they are so indignantly and passionately criticizing our current President on a quotation of words taken out of context, what other information that they’re offering to the voters is also being taken out of context?