As he has repeatedly made clear, President Obama believes in a strong free enterprise system in which everyone gets a fair shot and plays by the same rules. But the Republican National Committee must be getting desperate, because they’ve released a new attack ad that uses selective editing to deliberately take the President’s words out of context and falsely suggest he is bent on redistributing wealth.
The ad chops and slices an interview that President Obama did with 60 Minutes and a clip of then-state senator Obama speaking at a conference in Chicago in 1998 to distort his remarks about ensuring a level economic playing field to bolster broad-based prosperity. Below are his unedited remarks about redistribution—the ad only includes the phrase in italics:
“I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody’s got a shot. How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities.”
The ad also purposefully cuts out the President’s responses to 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft’s questions about redistribution and “class warfare.” Here is the unedited segment—the ad only highlights and emphasizes the sections in italics:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Our politics [have] gotten to the point where we can’t have an honest conversation about the greatest income inequality since the 1920s … we’ve got to be honest about how we move forward.
STEVE KROFT: I mean, you were really talking about income inequality, which suggests redistribution of wealth.
THE PRESIDENT: I’m going to interrupt you there, Steve.
KROFT: There are going to be people who say “this is the socialist Obama, and he’s come out of the closet.”
THE PRESIDENT: Look, everybody’s concerned about inequality. Those folks in there who were listening to the speech, those are teachers and small businesspeople, and probably some small-town bankers, who are in there thinking to themselves, “how is it that we’re working so hard?” And meanwhile they know that corporate profits are at a record level, that a lot of folks are doing very well. What’s happened to the bargain? What’s happened to the American deal that says, you know, we are focused on building a strong middle class?
President Obama has consistently defended the free market and entrepreneurship. He knows that “the true engine of job creation in this country will always be America’s businesses.” In the interview with 60 Minutes, President Obama was explaining that he believes America is best served by a free enterprise system that empowers a strong and growing middle class—not a system stacked against ordinary Americans in favor of the wealthiest few. He has made clear that his goal in running for president was putting in place economic policies to ensure “that the 21st century would be an American century, just like the 20th century had been.”
President Obama understands that America succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot and everyone does their fair share—that’s why he cut taxes for middle-class families and passed Wall Street reforms that protect consumers and hold big banks accountable. And he has consistently stood up for businesses that play by the rules, making it easier for them to invest in American jobs by passing 18 tax cuts and confronting China on its unfair trade practices that hurt American workers.
Republicans will no doubt continue to twist the truth in an effort to smear President Obama and distract voters from their presidential nominee’s proposed policies. But the facts are clear: Mitt Romney supports passing a $5 trillion tax cut skewed toward millionaires and billionaires paid for by raising taxes on the middle class. That’s not betting on free enterprise—that’s betting on the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the rest of the country.
President Obama, on the other hand, knows America’s free market draws its prosperity from the middle out, not the top down. He has consistently fought to support American businesses that play by the rules and he will continue to protect a free enterprise system in which all Americans can compete fairly on a level playing field.