Grow business, not bureaucracy, to help our country prosper

Published by The Orlando Sentinel August 2, 2012 by Bill Herrle | Guest Columnist

It is always an honor to have the president of the United States visit our state. But as he journeys to Florida today to seek our vote, he can expect some hard questions.

Four years ago, then-candidate Barack Obama made a lot of promises. He told us he had the skills and the plan to end the economic downturn that was gripping our country.

With his first term coming to an end and with President Obama asking for re-election, it is worth reviewing how he has lived up to his promises. The president has given us his own review of his performance. Recently at a campaign event, he said of his approach to the economy, “It worked.” But has it?

In Florida, we are facing record foreclosures and an unemployment rate of 8.6 percent, even worse than the national average of 8.2 percent.

Obama told us his stimulus would have unemployment below 6 percent by this year.

Last week, the White House lowered its GDP estimate for the year following a dismal growth rate of only 1.5 percent for the second quarter, down sharply from the already poor 2 percent growth rate of the first quarter.

But why did this happen? Why has the president been so unsuccessful? It’s because he puts his faith in the government — instead of the people — to get our economy back on track.

Recently, at a Roanoke campaign event the president said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” It was a statement that caught fire around the country, and as business owners spoke out in outrage, the Obama campaign countered the words were taken out of context. Here’s the context:

“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 hard-working 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.”

These words — and more important, the policies behind them — outline the president’s belief that putting faith in government instead of the hard-working men and women of this great nation, is the key to getting our economy back on track. The president believes that if we are to recover from this economic downturn, the government must lead the way.

It’s for that reason that his entire approach to addressing the recession was government based. Obama wasn’t interested in helping the private sector — according to him, you might remember, the private sector is “doing fine.” His main concern was to grow the government. He has done so with aplomb, presiding over four years of trillion-dollar deficits. But the economic recovery he promised has not followed.

Government can do a lot of good, and it can support the growth of the economy. But it can never replace the contributions of American entrepreneurs. It can never replace the story of the American dream that is lived day-by-day by large and small business owners and their employees across Florida and across the nation.

When government forgets its place and our leaders decide that growing the bureaucracy instead of putting our faith in the people is the key to prosperity, we see results like we have had these past few years.

More regulations and higher taxes don’t help business, and they won’t lead to a recovery. As Obama visits Orlando today, we invite him to come meet those of us who know something about how jobs are created and how they are lost.

Then he might learn that government didn’t build this country’s prosperity — her people built it.

Bill Herrle is the executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business/Florida.


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