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Fact check: What President Obama actually said about small businesses

Mitt Romney is deliberately taking President Obama’s words out of context in order to distort the President’s record of support for small businesses. Speaking in Roanoke, Virginia, the President offered a robust defense of public investment in infrastructure.

Romney decided to selectively edit President Obama to make it appear like the President was insulting small businesses: “[President Obama] said this, ‘If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.’ That somebody else is government, in his view ... To say something like that is not just foolishness, it’s insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America, and it’s wrong.”

But it’s Romney’s statement that’s wrong—it’s a complete distortion. Here’s what the President actually said:

“If you were 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 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 didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”

The President’s full remarks show that the “that” in “you didn’t build that” clearly refers to roads and bridges—public infrastructure we count on the government to build and maintain.

Romney can try to manipulate those words into a political attack, but the facts belie the smear: President Obama has continuously fought to help small businesses grow by cutting their taxes and making it easier for them to invest in American jobs. Here’s how:

  • 18 tax cuts for small businesses: The President signed 18 tax cuts to support small businesses, providing $200 billion in tax relief and incentives for America’s businesses over the last three years.

  • Record volume of small business loans last year: President Obama has also supported nearly $80 billion in loans to more than 150,000 small businesses since 2009, including a record volume last year.

  • Tax credits to support hiring: On top of the 18 tax cuts, President Obama wants to provide a 10% income tax credit for nearly 2 million businesses who hire new employees or raise wages. He also wants to extend 100 percent expensing for all businesses in 2012.

President Obama knows that small businesses are the “cornerstones of America’s promise, the idea that if you’ve got a dream and the work ethic to see it through, you can succeed.” And as he noted in Virginia, “when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative but also because we do things together.” That is why the President is committed to building an economy that invests in education, infrastructure, and innovation alongside strong business growth.

In contrast, Mitt Romney has a record of bankrupting businesses and laying off workers to make a profit as a corporate buyout specialist. His attempt to take the President’s words out of context and turn it into a political attack cannot distract from his record of fighting against the middle class.