Earlier this week, I gave Mitt Romney “two cheers” for going to the NAACP convention and delivering a speech lauding free enterprise. What the speech was missing was a strong condemnation of the monstrously wrong-headed set of policies espoused by Barack Obama — and cheered by the NAACP and most others on the left.
Now it is time to give Romney that third cheer. His speech in Irwin, Pennsylvania, was stunning. Speaking without a teleprompter, and glancing down only occasionally at his notes or text, Romney socked it to the president as someone who wanted to “crush economic liberty” and “make Americans feel ashamed of success.”
Obama laid himself open to this devastating onslaught with his remarks in Roanoke, Virginia, a few days earlier, saying that nobody built his own business… because, as he suggested, no one could do it without the helping hand of government in building roads, bridges, and the like.
Here are a few passages from Romney’s thunderous rejoinder:
Romney: The idea to say that Steve Jobs didn’t build Apple, that Henry Ford didn’t build Ford Motor, that Papa John didn’t build Papa John Pizza, that Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft? You go down the list. To say something like that is not just foolishness, it’s insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America . . .
Audience: (wild applause)
Romney: and it’s wrong!
Romney: I don’t think anyone could have said what he said who had actually started a business or been in a business. And my own view is that what the president said is both startling and revealing. I find it extraordinary that a philosophy of that nature would be spoken by a president of the United States. It goes to something I have said from the beginning of this campaign, that this election is to a great extent about the soul of America. Do we believe America is great because of government, or do we believe in an America that is great because of free people allowed to pursue their dreams and their future?
Audience: (thunderous applause)
Romney went from there to talking about how Obama had stood the American dream of building a better future for one’s self and one’s family on its head:
I’m convinced he wants Americans to be ashamed of success. I want Americans to welcome success and encourage people to reach as high as they can — and, in some cases, to build enterprises. I don’t want government to take credit for what the individuals of America have accomplished. Whether they work in government or the private sector, it’s the people of America who make America the unique nation, the exceptional nation that it is . . .
Romney proceeded to outline a five-point plan for restoring American exceptionalism. This includes:
1) Pressing ahead with development of oil, gas, and coal reserves here in the United States. Romney recounted how the Obama administration wanted no fracking, no off-shore drilling, and no coal. Said Romney: “These things cost jobs and they’ve got to stop.”
2) Expanding trade with other nations. Here he pointed out that European, Asian, and Latin American nations had concluded dozens of free trade agreements over the past three and a half years. The score under Obama’s presidency: Zero.
3) Moving toward a balanced budget. He pointed out that the enormous debt burden used to finance runaway government spending under Obama had been a major factor in slowing economic growth.
4) Expanding choice in our schools. He pointedly observed: “Kids first, and unions behind them.”
5) Restoring economic freedom in a major way. Said Romney: “Our economy is driven by people pursuing their ideas and dreams. It’s not driven by government. And what the president is doing is crushing economic freedom.”
And those were not the only highlights. Romney also noted how the Obama administration had a shameful record of rewarding businesses that have provided campaign contributions with loans and loan guarantees.
And he scoffed (just as Bastiat did in my article) at the notion that governments created wealth whenever they built a road or bridge or other public project. Who paid for that road or bridge? Romney asked (as Bastiat did before him). It is the taxpayer — whether as an individual or as a business. Should the taxpayer pay twice for the same road or bridge?
We have a president who has no experience in the world of commerce and who has no use for business or free enterprise. He has never met a payroll or earned a profit — and he seems to think that anyone who tries to do those things is most likely to be out to cheat his customers and to treat his employees with contempt. As Romney has said, he has “the most anti-business, anti-investment, anti-jobs administration I’ve ever seen.”
If there is one thing that this nation cannot afford — a bigger calamity even than our $15 trillion national debt — it is four more years of Barack Obama.
Let’s hope that Mitt Romney continues to make that point loud and clear.