TAMPA, Fla. -- Republicans spent the first full day of their 2012 convention hammering President Barack Obama for his "you didn't build that" remark, an attempt to underscore their message that Obama is hostile to the private sector.
Obama's actual point had been not that individuals don't build up their businesses, but that successful enterprises depend on government-funded infrastructure like bridges, roads and schools.
Oddly, one of the businessmen Republicans chose to feature on Tuesday night made exactly that point. In fact, he essentially made the argument for more government spending.
Phil Archuletta is the owner of P&M Signs in New Mexico. His business specializes in making outdoor and traffic signs.
It is also the beneficiary of federal government contracts.
"For the last 40 years, my company has built the road signs on the Forest Service road system," Archuletta explained in his prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention. "In fact, in 1984, I was fortunate to receive the national award from President Reagan for being the most successful minority business in the United States. In 2004, President Bush made it possible for our company to manufacture signs for all federal agencies."
According to a website that tracks government contracts, P&M Signs has received $18,252 in federal contracts from 2000 to 2011.
The problem, according to Archuletta, isn't that he's getting money from Uncle Sam -- it's that he isn't getting more.
"When President Obama came on board and pushed the stimulus, I believed my business was going to explode with work," he told the Tampa crowd. "Unfortunately, it never happened. The Democratic Congress and the Obama administration created a new procurement process that harmed existing small-business contracts, which devastated my business."
Archuletta's remarks certainly buttressed the GOP's argument that Obama is bad for small businesses. But he also seemed to undermine the Republican mantra of small government and less government spending.
After all, government contractors -- i.e., private businesses -- don't necessarily save taxpayers money. A 2011 report by the Project on Government Oversight found that contractors actually charged taxpayers twice as much as the government would have paid federal workers.
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