by Ryan Streeter on July 26, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.
As President Obama keeps his “You didn’t build that!” gaffe alive by trying to explain it away, he has given the Romney campaign a gift that apparently wants to keep on giving. Romney’s surrogates are out on the trail with small business owners who are essentially saying, “Um, excuse me? I didn’t build this?”
Obama has a deeply rooted penchant for blaming other people and things for his troubles. As we all know, everything bad in the economy since 2009 is George W. Bush’s fault. Recent polls suggest that rhetorical tactic is falling flat among voters as they now lump most of the blame on him, but that won’t stop the President from keeping up the game. He’s already blaming others for taking his you-didn’t-build-that line “out of context,” and despite the polls, nothing is stopping him from continuing to articulate his George-Bush-did-it-not-me economic theory.
So if there’s one chart the Romney camp and its surrogates should be holding up at campaign stops right now, it’s this one from a May study (PDF) the Kauffman Foundation published:
The chart shows that new businesses, or startups, have dropped to historic lows in America as a percentage of all businesses. That has happened under Obama’s watch. Now, of course, this is a long-term trend. So if Romney would make use of this chart, Obama would surely say “I didn’t do that! Somebody else made that happen!” And he would be right to suggest that this downward trend is occurring due to forces not entirely under his control.
But, of course, who can name a single, sincere effort on behalf of his administration to show that he’s on the side of new, small businesses? No one can. He cannot dig out of the hole implied by this chart – namely, that as startups began weakening as an economic force, Obama has done all he can to crater them. Romney & Co. should make as much use of it, and others like it, that they can.
UPDATE: Thanks to Real Clear Policy for featuring this post in their Data Lab.