THE BLOG
08/14/2012 11:03 am ET | Updated Oct 14, 2012

If Business Didn't Need Government, Would There Be Lobbyists?

One out of context comment from President Obama that has been making waves this campaign has pertained to whether businesses make it with some help from the government. The Republicans have harped on the comment as almost unpatriotic, suggesting that business in any way needs help from government and that all success is due to the hard work of the business owner. While people who start a business are to be commended for taking risks and building their businesses through hard work, many directly or indirectly are helped by government. It is a partnership that should be featured, not treated as nonexistent. If anyone doubts this look at the army of lobbyists and trade associations in Washington and State Capitols around the country retained by businesses to keep government helping them.

Government assistance can come in many forms. It can be a small business loan from SBA that either helps a business gets started or provides crucial cash flow at low interest rates. It can be a direct government contract that can be a boon to any business. It can be indirect through federal housing and community development funds that are contracted out to businesses to build housing and fix roads. Or even more indirectly through regulatory changes that can help a particular business. These are all legitimate ways that government can and does help businesses succeed.

It is ironic that Romney/Ryan are so emphatic about businesses not needing government help when the one area of government they want to grow is the one with the most contracts with business -- the defense budget. Let's be clear, the military/industrial complex still lives. From aerospace to ammunition to armored protection and communication, many businesses depend on Defense contracts to survive. These contracts have added billions to corporate bottom lines and employed tens of thousands of people. They have also had the largest amount of wasteful spending. One does not need look farther than the Iraq War and Halliburton to see how profits are made off national defense.The Defense Department has created a culture of government dependency that welfare cannot come close to matching. A recent article showed how the Defense Department employs someone whose job is to mollify contractors when the defense budget is cut.

Government can help business in many productive ways through legitimate partnerships. When and if the Romney/Ryan budget ax falls there will be many businesses making sure that it does not fall on them. Each of these special interests, Romney/Ryan's "friends" will have their lobbyists and trade associations seeking to save programs that help them.