Romney’s Obama Attack Ad Featured A Small Business Owner Who’s Benefitted From Government Loans And Contracts

by evanmcmurry

Mitt Romney’s narrative is having a sad 24 hours. Yesterday, MSNBC found a clip of Romney voicing, almost word for word, the “you didn’t build that line” over which he’s attacking Obama. Romney was talking about Olympic athletes, Obama about small businesses, but the two lines celebrated the exact same notion of cooperation as a precondition for individual achievement.

Now it’s come out that the small business owner so outraged in Romney’s attack ad against Obama—“My father’s hands didn’t build this company? My hands didn’t build this company? My son’s hands aren’t building this company?”—has actually received multiple federally-funded loans and contracts. Via Jake Tapper:

The New Hampshire Union Leader’s John DiStato today reports that in 1999 the business in question, Gilchrist Metal, “received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority ‘to set up a second manufacturing plant and purchase equipment to produce high definition television broadcasting equipment’…” In addition, in 2011, Gilchrist Metal “received two U.S. Navy sub-contracts totaling about $83,000 and a smaller, $5,600 Coast Guard contract in 2008…”

The businessman, Jack Gilchrist, also acknowledged that in the 1980s the company received a U.S. Small Business Administration loan totaling “somewhere south of” $500,000, and matching funds from the federally-funded New England Trade Adjustment Assistance Center.

Gilchrist, of course, feels totally entitled to this money:

“I’m not going to turn a blind eye because the money came from the government,” Gilchrest said. “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.”

I’m sure everybody on food stamps is still a Taker, though.

Ordinarily, when a narrative fails as spectacularly as Romney’s is right now, it’s a matter of bad messaging, or timing, or whatnot. But in this case, Romney’s attack is failing because it’s flat out wrong. Obama’s point—that individual economic achievement is only made possible through community endeavor, so that continued economic success requires replenishment of community resources in addition to individual incentives—is true. It’s not true in the “revenue increases are necessary to balancing the budget” way, in which the complexities of the argument can be spun by a cynical opponent; it’s True true, so much so that Romney once endorsed it, and can’t find a counterexample that won’t blow up in his face. Too bad the debate Romney’s losing is central to his economic philosophy.