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Obama needs a history lesson on business and the US

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According to President Obama, his administration has been pro-business, indeed one of the most pro-business administrations ever. Yet, on Friday, in Roanoke, Virginia, Obama admonished those opposed to higher taxes on business: "If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen."

What a slap in the face to all those Americans who built successful businesses. And Obama wonders why businesses are afraid to invest, when he uses such rhetoric.

Obama, during his presidency, regularly has called Wall Street executives “fat cats,” bondholders “speculators,” and accuses doctors of giving patients unnecessary and harmful surgery. 

He has regularly blamed private companies rather than the government for the financial crisis. Indeed, the only blame he gives to the federal government is that there wasn’t enough regulation.

Even for liberal New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg Obama's attacks have at times been too much: “[Obama’s] bashing of Wall Street is something that should worry everybody.”

CNN's Anderson Cooper summarized Obama's campaign so far: "Basically the Obama campaign wants to paint Romney as this greedy, out of touch rich guy, whose company Bain Capital closed factories and killed jobs just to make a quick buck."

Trade has been become a major issue in the campaign, with Obama taking the most extreme position and demonized so-called "outsourcing" of jobs. One wonders how many people in the Obama administration use iPhones that were assembled in China, and how many of them would be ready to pay the price had the iPhone been assembled in the United States. Sometimes it is better for American companies to outsource some jobs and keep the company going than to lose out to foreign competitors.

Economists are almost universal in praising free trade, explaining how trade benefits both parties in an exchange. In the US we design computers, their operating systems, and build some of the components, and China assembles them. Obama's rhetoric about "insourcing" implies he wants to do away with many of the benefits from trade.

The Obama administration dismisses any negative impact from his proposed tax hike as, they say, only 2 or 3 percent of taxpayers with business income are taxed at the highest rates. But they fail to mention that this small percentage of taxpayers account for half of business income.

Ultimately, Mr. Obama really needs a history lesson on the United States. The claim that American business only got started with government aid is simply false. 

A lot of states in the US didn't have public education until about 1870, and yet they had literacy rates that were at about 96 percent. Public universities got started well after private universities did, and by the turn of the last century the vast majority of our colleges were still private. 

Even the subways in New York City were originally built and operated privately until the government imposed price controls (a 5 cent maximum fare) that bankrupted the companies and allowed the city government to take them over. There were also private highways in the United States up until 1916.

Ironically, at the same time that Obama bashes businesses he claims: "It’s very hard to find evidence of anything that we’ve done that is designed to squash business as opposed to promote business."

Yet, businessmen aren't being fooled. Even businesspeople who have been strong Democratic supporters, such as the late Steve Jobs and Casino Mogul Steve Wynn, have warned the administration about the damage that he has been doing to businesses. 

Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson: "the administration needed to be a lot more business-friendly...it was almost impossible [to build a factory] these days in America, largely because of regulations and unnecessary costs." Wynn asserted: "I’m saying it bluntly, that this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business and progress and job creation in my lifetime."

Of course, it is also hard to forget the way the Obama administration expropriated most of bondholders in GM and Chrysler owned so that the government could make massive wealth transfers to unions.

Instead of moving to the center as the election approaches, Obama has moved even further left.  One only hopes that Mitt Romney stops debating over what dates he ran Bain Capital and instead gets busy defending the benefits of free-trade. Americans can't be surprised when American companies, as well as foreign ones, don't want to invest in the United States.  With this president, why should anyone take the risk?

John R. Lott, Jr. is a columnist for FoxNews.com. He is an economist and was formerly chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission. Lott is also a leading expert on guns and op-eds on that issue are done in conjunction with the Crime Prevention Research Center. He is the author of eight books including "More Guns, Less Crime." His latest book is "Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges Off the Bench" Bascom Hill Publishing Group (September 17, 2013). Follow him on Twitter@johnrlottjr.