If You've Got a Business That Works With the Government, You Didn't Build That

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 26 2012 1:39 PM

If You've Got a Business That Works With the Government, You Didn't Build That

Give some kind of prize to Michael Sickler for this story. In Tampa, the Romney campaign held one of its nearly two dozen "I Built This" pressers -- angry business leaders venting about Barack Obama's apparent insults. Sickler went and checked whether said businesses do any work with the government. Shockingly, they do. So he printed the facts and asked the job creators to explain themselves.

[Rebecca] Smith did acknowledge that much of her work is government related. But she said that's only because her company doesn't bid much on private work because of the way the private sector awards jobs: lowest bid possible. Still, she declined to characterize that as government work.
"We benefit from the need for quality construction funded by taxpayer dollars," Smith said.
As for Obama's speech that they both strongly objected to, neither one saw it.
[Lou] Ramos said he later read a full transcript of the speech. Smith said she didn't see it, only news reports on what was said.
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The proper way to understand Build-it-quiddick is via confirmation bias. As Olivier Knox points out, business owners don't really like the Democratic president who's presided over weak growth. The new Gallup poll has Obama's approval with that group falling from 41 percent to 35 percent, even as other Americans warm to him. But people who work extraordinarily hard don't want to think that the government's helped them out. The whole "build it" angle of the Romney campaign is maddening, because the president doesn't literally believe that business owners build nothing. Damn it, though -- they think he hates them. Anything's believable.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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