According to an article in the New Hampshire Union-Leader, Jack Gilchrist, the star of the Mitt Romney ad (below) demonizing President Obama for his “you didn’t build this company” blunder, received $1 million in government loans that positively affected his business. The fact that Gilchrist’s company was helped by government loans clearly undermines this low-blow on Obama.
After the NHUL story broke the New York Times called Gilchrist “one of those Ayn Rand-styled individualists who don’t actually need all of the things that many others rely on government for. Except that it turns out he’s not.”
On Monday, The New Hampshire Union-Leader reported that Mr. Gilchrist had received a lot of government help over the years: $800,000 in tax-exempt bonds from the state of New Hampshire, a nearly $500,000 loan guaranteed by the Small Business Administration, federally financed trade adjustment assistance and even nearly $90,000 in military contracts since 2008.
The federally financed tax-exempt bonds most likely provided Mr. Gilchrist’s company with a lower interest rate than a loan, and the S.B.A., as Agenda readers know, guarantees loans that banks wouldn’t otherwise make.
Mr. Gilchrist told a Union-Leader reporter, John DiStaso, that he didn’t believe he’d “compromised anything or misled anybody,” adding:
“I’m not going to turn a blind eye because the money came from the government. As far as I’m concerned, I’m getting some of my tax money back.
“I’m not stupid, I’m not going to say ‘no.’ Shame on me if I didn’t use what’s available. As a matter of fact, right now, I’m driving on a road.”
The Obama not-so-gaffe is clearly taken out of context. It also apparently mirrors a speech given by Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren in which she explains the debt crisis that drove her to the national progressive forefront. In the speech, Warren claims that nobody got rich on their own and that it took public services paid for by taxpayers to allow the business to grow. Obama seemed to be making the same point, although he worded it in a way that, taken out of context, doesn’t portray the same message. The full message of the President’s Speech, which can be viewed here, goes as follows:
If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, ‘Wow, it must be because I was just so smart.’ There are a lot of smart people out there. ‘It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.’ Lemme tell you something: there are a lot of hard working people out there.”
“If you are successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that’s allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that: somebody else made that happen. The Internet did not get invented on its own.”
Yet Romney didn’t see the subtle difference and turned the sentence “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that” into the Barack attack du July. But the man Romney chose to deliver that message isn’t a true believer in the cold, hard, conservative line, as it turns out.
According to The Plum Line‘s Greg Sargent — who interviewed Gilchrist — the on-camera anti-government actor does believe in some form of government stimulus spending in the real world:
I asked Gilchrist himself — a personable guy who seemed to enjoy bantering with someone he disagreed with — whether he thinks federal spending is good for the economy. He allowed that spending on roads and bridges does, in fact, create jobs, and said he supports federal spending on at least maintaining them.
“If we’re going to spend money on roads and bridges, certainly keeping them in good condition is prudent, and it’s certainly putting people to work,” Gilchrist said. “Obviously if people are fixing things, then they’re working.”
And obviously if your business is growing because of government loans you aren’t building it entirely by yourself. Nor should you.