Sen. Warren: ‘You Didn’t Build’ That by Yourself, ‘All of Us Helped’

Craig Bannister | August 20, 2019 | 3:30pm EDT
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren
(Getty Images/Alex Wong)

Echoing the “You didn’t build that” claim made famous by former President Barack Obama, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) made a pitch for a new tax while addressing the Black Church PAC's Youth Leadership Conference in Atlanta on Saturday.

But, Obama’s controversial 2012 comment actually appears to have been a paraphrase of remarks Warren made a year earlier when she was running her successful campaign to unseat incumbent Republican Senator Scott Brown.

On Saturday, promoting her proposal for a new “wealth tax,” Democrat presidential hopeful Warren told her audience that, if any of them have built a fortune, they didn’t do it on their own, because “all of us helped” them:

“Anybody in here own a home? You’ve been paying a wealth tax for a long time: it’s just called a property tax.

“And, what I’m saying that’s different, is for the truly rich – more than $50 million in assets – it’s more than your real estate: it’s your stock portfolio, the diamonds, the Rembrandt, the yacht – I just want them all included in how we think about wealth. And, I say to those folks: good for you; you made it big.

“But, I guarantee, you didn’t build a fortune in America without using workers that all of us helped pay to educate.

“You built a fortune in America getting your goods to market on roads and bridges that all of us helped pay to build.

“You are protected by police and firefighters – all of us paid their salaries.”

As reported on July 16, 2012, President Obama sparked controversy at the time with his “You didn’t built that” comment – by echoing sentiments voiced a year earlier by Senate candidate Warren:

President Barack Obama, borrowing a line of thought from liberal Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren, says "wealthy, successful Americans" owe their success to others.

"If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen," Obama said Friday during a campaign stop in Roanoke, Virginia.

His comments echo those made last year by Warren, who is challenging Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) for his U.S. Senate seat.

Warren told supporters last September, "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.

"You built a factory out there -- good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. Your hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.

"You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.

"Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea—God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."



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