As alluring as the grammar goof excuse appears, it doesn’t pass the laugh test for two reasons. The entire context of that section of the president's speech contradicts his claim of grammatical error only. His consistent message of the last four years undermines it as well.
Obama's contested statements were part of his justification for increasing taxes on the rich. They were made toward the end of a 40 minute monologue given to a very receptive audience. Apparently, he was inspired by the recurring cheers and applause to state frankly the ideological underpinning of his economic thesis: the government creates private success.
A couple of paragraphs earlier in the speech, Obama stated, in referring to the Clinton tax increases:
“And, by the way, we’ve tried that before — a guy named Bill Clinton did it. We created 23 million new jobs, turned a deficit into a surplus, and rich people did just fine. We created a lot of millionaires (emphasis supplied).”
After crediting the government with private wealth creation, Obama went on to chastise successful business owners on two counts. According to him, they believe, and wrongly so, that they are smarter and harder working than other Americans. The president further stated that only two factors drive private business success: the government, and the initiative of those who choose to own businesses.
Obama would not be more incorrect if he had stated a belief in an earth-centric universe. If success in business only requires the government and personal initiative, the failure rate of small businesses would be virtually zero. Instead, even in non recession years half of the people who start their own businesses fail. The main reason is mismanagement. Owners can have all of the initiative in the world, but the doors will close anyway if they can’t manage money, people, resources and time.
While competent management skills are necessary to succeed, they are not enough. Small business owners must be willing to risk personal financial disaster and work as if they’re indentured to the venture, because they are. The small business owner, tiny actually, in our pack was typical of the breed. During the fiscal year, our pack member and a co-owner paid their people first, taking only a monthly stipend for themselves. At the end of the year, employees were given bonuses according to the business’s profitability and their relative contributions. After that, money was put back into the company to fund the next year’s growth. Only then did the two owners take their bonuses, which typically were less than those of some of the employees.