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SBAM on President Obama: “Yet another example of his mistrust of free enterprise.”

July 20, 2012

SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler:

It would be charitable to agree with President Obama’s defenders that his July 13 statement “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that…somebody else made that happen” was exaggerated rhetoric taken out-of-context from a campaign speech. But the truth is that the President’s remarks are not a one-off verbal gaffe. They are yet another example of his mistrust of free enterprise and his fundamental lack of understanding about who is really responsible for creating successful small businesses and job growth.

I agree with what the President said in his speech about there being many critical parts that go into making a small business successful, including access to taxpayer-financed infrastructure like roads, bridges and the Internet. But when the president says “Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet”, he’s showing once again his lack of knowledge about the importance of the small firms that grasped the untapped potential of the Internet and built great successful companies (yes, companies like Google and Amazon were once small businesses.)

Yes, small businesses are assisted by taxpayer-finance infrastructure, but on the flip side, the President fails to understand and acknowledge the unfair federal regulatory burden small business faces despite our well-documented and highly important role in the U.S. economy. What small business needs is a level playing field—something any serious politician ought to be working toward. Among the challenges facing America’s small businesses—challenges that land squarely in the small-business owner’s lap alone—is the fact that firms with fewer than 20 employees spend 36 percent more per employee to comply with federal regulations ($10,585 per employee per year) than do larger firms.
During the height of The Great Recession (from 2007 to 2010) employer establishment births dropped 12 percent, and the business startup rate fell below eight percent (of new firms as a percentage of all firms) in 2010, marking its lowest point on record. According to the World Bank, the U.S. ranks fourth in ease of doing business, but just 13th in terms of starting a business. Clearly, we’re doing something wrong here.

The President, like every politician I’ve ever met, claims to support small business. But small business owners, not politicians, get to decide who is really a small business supporter. And the President’s policies (from Obamacare to his proposals to boost taxes on small business job creators) makes it clear to us his disdain for the importance of small entrepreneurs in this country.

President Obama could learn something from the example being set here in Michigan by Gov. Snyder. Under his leadership, the state has enacted business tax reform and aggressively sought to lower the regulatory burden on small businesses. These positive incentives have encouraged entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and fill thousands of jobs – over 8,000 so far this year (documented at

Small businesses are leading the way in propelling a new economic direction for Michigan. They are creating jobs and building sustainable communities. I don’t think any entrepreneur would claim that he or she “did it alone,” but to imply that somebody else made it happen shortchanges the huge risks—financial, time and emotional—unique to entrepreneurs on a daily basis.

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