Obama’s “you didn’t build that” line as part of a broader speech about how successful individuals owe that success to government has dug deep into the psyche of Obama supporters.
MSNBC dug up an old video of Mitt Romney speaking at the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics (for comparison, take a look at what Obama was doing back then) in which Romney told the athletes to remember that they received help from family, coaches, and community sports groups:
“Tonight we cheer the Olympians, who only yesterday were children themselves,” Romney said. “As we watch them over the next 16 days, we affirm that our aspirations, and those of our children and grandchildren, can become reality. We salute you Olympians – both because you dreamed and because you paid the price to make your dreams real. You guys pushed yourself, drove yourself, sacrificed, trained and competed time and again at winning and losing.”
“You Olympians, however, know you didn’t get here solely on your own power,” said Romney, who on Friday will attend the Opening Ceremonies of this year’s Summer Olympics. “For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers, encouraged your hopes, coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We’ve already cheered the Olympians, let’s also cheer the parents, coaches, and communities. All right! [pumps fist].”
Because Romney used the magic words “you didn’t get here on your own” this is the equivalent, the left blogsphere claims, of Obama saying that successful individuals must pay more in taxes than they already do because government helped them succeed.
As Tom Maguire points out, Obama’s comments would not have been controversial if all he said was that government plays an important role in helping provide infrastructure for the economy. But Obama, and Elizabeth Warren before him, used the context as an argument for higher taxation for successful individuals out of indebtedness to government for success.
More important, this illustrates the divide between left and right in how government is viewed. This quote in the MSNBC article had it right:
A Republican strategist sends over this response: “The Obama Campaign is comparing the government to a loving parent? What happened to Julia?”