President Barack Obama drew headlines across the country when he said “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that,” a remark that has been interpreted by Mitt Romney’s campaign as an insult to all business owners. After being asked if he disagreed with Mr. Obama’s comment as a self-made billionaire, however, Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended Mr. Obama and said the context made it clear “that” was a reference to government infrastructure and investment.
“Nobody is a bigger believer of the American dream and capitalism than I am,” Mr. Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show, while arguing the political discussion should be on things like jobs, the environment and gun control instead. “I don’t think Obama really said nobody is responsible or should take credit for what they’ve done. What he did say, if I understood what I read, was that if you didn’t have the public school system, our kids wouldn’t have educations, and therefore when you hired somebody, you’d have to teach them to read and write. And that’s not saying that it takes away anything from the entrepreneur.”
“It is true you use bridges to come into work, it is true that the country is protected by an army and there’s a firefighter is ready to respond if your place is burning down,” he continued. “And so you have to have those things. But I don’t think, in all fairness, that people didn’t do it on their own.”
Mr. Romney’s campaign, of course, has seized on the issue as an all-important matter in the presidential race, constantly mentioning it and even affixing it to campaign schwag. But, while giving credit to people like himself that took risks and developed enterprises, Mr. Bloomberg went on to say Mr. Obama was just attempting to address a basic tenet of society.
“I’ve always said to kids, get rid of the words ‘I’ and ‘me,’ use ‘we’ and ‘us’ because you do need lots of help from other people,” he explained. “That’s not taking away from those people, I hope myself included, people who started and had some guts, put their own money, their sweat and blood on the line. And without them those places wouldn’t exist. I think that’s what Obama really meant and would have said, but I guess you got to ask the President. That’s what I believe anyways.”
He repeated his argument one last time, adding, “Yes, these people who did it themselves deserve an enormous credit, but it’s also true that if there wasn’t a cop on the corner to keep them safe or an ambulance to respond when they had a heart attack, they wouldn’t have been able to do it.”