Obama Used ‘Invest,’ ‘Investing,’ or ‘Investment’ Seven Times in Labor Day Speech to Describe Federal Spending and Special-Interest Tax Loopholes

By Terence P. Jeffrey | September 7, 2010 | 12:14 PM EDT

President Barack Obama waves after speaking at the annual Milwaukee Area Labor Council Laborfest Monday, Sept. 6, 2010, in Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

(Commentary) - President Barack Obama used the terms “invest,” “investing” or “investment” seven times in his Labor Day speech to describe federal spending and special-interest tax breaks.

The Merriam-Webster Online dictionary offers a primary definition of “investment” that assumes an “investment” is something undertaken by a capitalist (or for-profit entity) using private-sector money. An investment, says, Merriam-Webster, is “the outlay of money usually for income or profit: capital outlay.”

In his Labor Day speech Obama used “invest,” “investing” or “investment” to describe situations in which the government takes money via taxes from one person or institution and gives it to another person or institution, a situation that seems to comport better with the Merriam-Webster Online definition of “redistribution” than “investment.”  Redistribution, according to Merriam-Webster, means “to alter the distribution of: reallocate."

In his Labor Day speech, Obama used the terms “invest,” “investing” or “investment” to describe:
1. Federal programs for veterans returning from Iraq:
“Just like that greatest generation, they’ve got the skills, they’ve got the training, they’ve got the drive to move America’s economy forward once more.  We’ve been investing in new care and new opportunities and a new commitment to our veterans, because we’ve got to serve them just the way they served us.”
2. Money spent by his administration over the past 20 months:
“We didn’t do it just by gambling and chasing paper profits on Wall Street.  We built this country by making things, by producing goods we could sell.  We did it with sweat and effort and innovation. We did it on the assembly line and at the construction site. We did it by investing in the people who built this country from the ground up –- the workers, middle-class families, small business owners.  We out-worked folks and we out-educated folks and we out-competed everybody else. That’s how we built America. And, Milwaukee, that’s what we’re going to do again. That’s been at the heart what we’ve been doing over these last 20 months: building our economy on a new foundation so that our middle class doesn’t just survive this crisis--I want it to thrive.  I want it to be stronger than it was before.”
3. Special tax breaks for “clean energy”:
“And instead of giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas, we’re cutting taxes to companies that are putting our people to work right here in the United States of America.  See, we want to invest in growth industries like clean energy and manufacturing.  … I don’t want to see solar panels and wind turbines and electric cars made in China.  I want them made right here in the United States of America.”

4, 5, 6. ‘Infrastructure’ funded by his administration:
“Now, let me tell you, another thing we’ve done is to make long-overdue investments in upgrading our outdated, our inefficient national infrastructure.  We’re talking roads. We’re talking bridges.  We’re talking dams, levees.  But we’re also talking a smart electric grid that can bring clean energy to new areas. We’re talking about broadband Internet so that everybody is plugged in.  We’re talking about high-speed rail lines required to compete in a 21st century economy.  I want to get down from Milwaukee down to Chicago quick. Avoid a traffic jam.  We’re talking investments in tomorrow that are creating hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs right now. Because of these investments, and the tens of thousands of projects they spurred all across the country, the battered construction sector actually grew last month for the first time in a very long time.”
7. Federally funded railroads:
“We want to set up an infrastructure bank to leverage federal dollars and focus on the smartest investments.  We’re going to continue our strategy to build a national high-speed rail network that reduces congestion and travel times and reduces harmful emissions.”