Americans did build that - and 'that' is America

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2012 — The New American Crossroads video, “You Didn’t Build That,” features the reactions of small business owners who have just watched President Obama’s small business speech on an iPad.

“President Obama should immediately apologize for the remarks he made that denigrate the incredible risk entrepreneurs take when starting and building an enterprise,” said American Crossroads communications director Jonathan Collegio. “Obama’s remarks capture what many people have long suspected about the president – that he is out of touch with the small business owners and doesn’t value the risks they take to build their businesses and create jobs. This is clearly reflected in Obama’s high tax and regulatory policies.”

Along with his comment “you didn’t build that,” Obama also said that small business owners do not work harder than anyone else, they are not smarter than anyone else, and they did not build their businesses on their own. My response is, “how dare he?” 

You should meet Jerry Kubin, soon to be 85.

Mr. Kubin started his own business after returning from service in WWII. He raised six children while he worked as the owner-operator of the Skokie Valley Transmission and Brake Shop in Skokie, Illinois. Working six days a week, he rose every morning in the dark, returning home well after 6pm every night.

On Sunday he put on suit and tie and went to church, often volunteering as an usher. 

Often when he got home at night, he spent another two-to-three hours after dinner doing home repairs on the turn of the 20th Century home he and his wife bought because it was large enough to hold all those kids. That is what people did in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s.

He never took up golf, he didn’t take annual vacations. He’d buy a new used car when the old one stopped working.

Mrs. Kubin also worked, at home and in stores. She clerked in a fabric store or Walgreens at night when the children were younger; she performed full-time clerical work as they got older. She never went to bed before 2:00am as there was always laundry and other tasks to do.

The Kubins sacrificed and worked hard to be small business owners. And they did well. Not fat cat, 1 percent well, but they worked hard and reaped the benefits.

Their children went to school, got married, and had children. None suffer from drug abuse or alcohol dependency.

Neither President Obama, nor President Truman, nor any government did anything to help the Kubin’s start or manage the business or raise their family. They worked hard for both. The Kubins and others of their generation never got WIC, or grants, or welfare.  There were no daycare vouchers. 

When they had three young children, Mr. Kubin was struck down by a life-threatening illness. They lost everything, but they battled back by themselves. 

They received no government assistance: no help, no handouts. Those things did not exist in the early 1950’s.

In spite of everything, they built a new business, and it succeeded for more than forty years. That business employed young people, just getting started, and helped them learn a trade. 

What made the efforts of this middle-class couple work? They got results through self-reliance, independence, pride, and a work ethic they still practice.

That is what allowed them to be small business owners; they did what they had to, they worked hard and sacrificed, to keep the shop open and functioning, to care for their children, to tithe to their church.

To this day both are community volunteers, working with other seniors to help them have better lives. Mr. Kubin also works part-time in order to supplement savings that are dwindling faster than expected thanks to the government and an economy that is not recovering.

He also works because he has the deep desire to work. His was a generation that worked, not expecting any help or instant results. Work was part of their nature.

Just as no one was there to help them 55 years ago, no one, other than a supportive family, is there to help them now. The Kubins will succeed as they have for over sixty years, by working for what they need.

They never thought much about what they wanted.

Mr. President, their business was theirs. They did build that. I watched them do it as I grew up, becoming in my turn a small business operator after years of doing other things. And I have built my business, sans the help of anyone other than the entrepreneurs who work with me.

And now I can only ask, sir, how dare you say differently? I ask anyone who knows people like the Kubins, how can Obama say “they had help from … anyone.” How dare he say, “they didn’t work harder than anyone else”? They worked harder than Obama and our political class could ever understand. They helped each other, they helped their communities, and they helped themselves. 

They did build it. A life, a family, and a small business. They built the American way of life with millions of other middle class people across America. No one can take that away from them, or from any of the amazing people featured in the New American Crossroads video with flippant, disrespectful remarks made for political points.

President Obama, what have you given to the American people, other than disrespect and promises not just broken, but ignored?

You have apologized for us, when we did not need to apologize. Now there is fear over the Affordable Care Act, and the fact that older people, like the Kubins, might very well be denied, due to their age, the care they need, and this regardless of the fact that they still live vital and productive lives.

Continued uncertainty, fear, and the denigration of what they accomplished on the world stage — those are the things President Obama and the government have given to people like the Kubins. He’s given them a hugely increased federal debt, out of control government, and Obamacare — all things the Kubins, and other Americans like them, do not want.

But as we all know now, it was wise and prescient government that built their business, and as the face of that government, Obama knows best.

Only understanding so little of what they did, having experienced hard work at such a remove, he can’t possibly know best.

I’d love to ask him what he really meant, but President Obama has spent much of the last week explaining his words, telling us that they were taken out of context, that he honors the hard work of people who do what he’s never done, build businesses and create jobs. He’d only tell me, “what you thought you heard me say is not what I meant.” 

But it is.  How do I so deeply, intuitively know this? I am the daughter of those small business owners, and I am a small business owner. 

President Obama has never worked as hard as my dad, not one day in his life. Michelle never worked as hard as my mom. Yes, his decisions as president are weighty, but it just doesn’t compare. If he fails, he walks away like an executive of a Wall Street bank with a golden parachute. He has no deep, personal stake in his job, he’s already writing his story for the history books.

He doesn’t truly understand us, and his decisions are not permeated with anxiety for the success of the business-developing middle class, nor even the economic future of this country.

So I can only ask, “How dare he?” But then I have been asking that of politicians for nearly four years.


I am interested in collecting your stories of building a business, or a parent , friend, neighbor or sibling that built a business. 

We will collect them here in “I Did Build That”  Send your stories and pictures to me at

And let’s “build” a message for the President.  


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Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin is an award winning journalist that began writing in 1993 following a successful career in marketing and advertising in Chicago.  She started Communities Digital News in 2009 as a way to adapt to the changing online journalism marketing place.  Jacquie is President and Managing Editor of Communities Digital News, LLC and a frequent contributor to The Washington Times Communities as well as a member of the National Association of Professional Woman, New American Foundation and the Society of Professional Journalist.  Email Jacquie here

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