House Dem defends Obama, says business owners 'didn't do it alone'

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) said Thursday morning that he agrees "completely" with President Obama's comment from last month that business owners don't build their businesses by themselves, and added that the proper role of government is to "enable" private sector success.

"As somebody who reached some degree of success in the private sector before I got here, I agree completely with President Obama that I couldn't have achieved that degree of success without the public infrastructure that played a role in allowing me and so many other entrepreneurs to succeed," Polis said on the House floor.

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His remarks came just weeks after Obama was quoted as telling entrepreneurs with their own businesses, "you didn't build that, somebody else made that happen" because "someone along the way gave you some help." 

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney pounced on the remark, and the White House has since tried to walk it back. Obama himself has appeared in televisions commercials to explain the remark. 

Polis did not address that specific quote, but did say that government infrastructure is largely what separates the United States from other countries and allows people to build wealth.

"A lot separates us, but a big part of that is this collaboration of a public sector role that enables entrepreneurship, enables success in the private sector, enables people to create fortunes, enables people to create jobs," he said.

"That's the proper role of government. Government doesn't stand in the way of job creation, the government policy framework — courts people can trust, roads for people to get to work, good public schools, good healthcare — that's what enables success."

"The president understands, and I understand as somebody who started several businesses before I got here and created several hundred jobs, that of course I didn't do it alone," Polis said.

"If we didn't have roads and employees couldn't get to work, I wouldn't have been able to start a company, I wouldn't have been able to have any employees to get to work. If we didn't have schools that help prepare programmers and technicians to work in technology companies ... I wouldn't have been able to start a company."

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) rejected Polis's explanation, in particular his comment that government "enables" private-sector success.

"Excuse me?" she said. "I don't believe the government does a lot to enable the private sector," Foxx said. "What most people in the private sector will tell you is, just get the government out of my way. Get the foot of the government off my neck, and I will do just fine."

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