President Obama is in New Orleans today. One wonders if, during his visit to the Crescent City, he will repeat the now infamous claim that “If you have a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Given the firestorm that erupted after that claim, it’s doubtful he will do so.
But we should not forget his words. President Obama’s comments were not a one-off gaffe. Instead, they define his administration.
This election is defined by a single choice — will we put our trust in the government or in the American people? President Obama’s comments only make explicit what we’ve always known about his philosophy. From the first days of his administration, he has turned to the power of the federal government to address the struggles we face.
When President Obama sought to address the recession that still plagues us, he turned to a nearly trillion-dollar stimulus as his answer. To his friends and campaign contributors, he directed billions of dollars that ended up in companies such as Solyndra. While Solyndra is not the only one of President Obama’s failed energy projects, it is certainly the most famous. Surveying his investment at the energy firm’s headquarters, President Obama said that companies like Solyndra would always be “the true engine of economic growth.” Of course, we now know just how wrong President Obama was. Solyndra is bankrupt, the American people are out $500 million, and 1,800 workers are out of a job.
President Obama took a similar approach to health care. No one doubts that America’s health-care system is in need of reform; I’ve argued for health-care reform for many years. But rather than empowering individuals and giving power to the states and local communities to develop their own solutions, President Obama centralized power. He passed a massive federal takeover. Within the thousands of pages of Obamacare, President Obama gave the IRS and federal bureaucrats power to enforce a top-down, one-size-fits-all “reform” program that we now know will cost nearly $2 trillion dollars while increasing premium costs for everyone and driving up the price of health care.
Even President Obama’s approach to the ongoing national economic downturn is characterized by a government-centered approach. When asked about stubborn unemployment and slowing economic growth, President Obama infamously proclaimed that the private sector was “doing fine.” In his view, it was the government that was suffering. President Obama believes that if we are to recover from the recession, we need to raise taxes and increase government revenue. He thinks that the engine of economic growth is the federal government, and, in his view, we must feed the federal beast if we are to see prosperity again.
It’s little wonder, then, that President Obama looks out on those who have succeeded in building their businesses and sees people who owe the federal government. In the president’s mind, government is key to success. Thus, if you have succeeded, it must be because the government helped you. And if that is true, then you owe the government. You should pay more taxes. You should give back, not to charity or people in need, but to the government. This is not a recipe for economic growth, and it is not the American way. Here in Louisiana, we are going the opposite direction; we are empowering people to grow and start businesses, and good jobs are increasing.
Luckily, we are in an election year, and we have a very clear choice. President Obama puts his faith in government, but it’s not to the government that Mitt Romney looks when he seeks leadership and prosperity. Mitt Romney knows that it is our people that have made America great. And he knows that if we are to return to the prosperity we seek, we must empower our people, not our federal bureaucracy. But first, he needs our vote.
— Bobby Jindal is governor of Louisiana.