16cb7dcb2128ce13140f6a706700287eThis morning, Steve Benen at MaddowBlog wrote about Romney echoing the president’s line that businesses do, indeed, need and use government help. All over MSNBC this morning, people are talking about the same thing, about how Romney and the Republicans agree with the president that no one does it alone. The whole incident points out a basic misunderstanding most Democrats have of the Republican beliefs about the role of government in business. To wit: they admit that businesses can’t exist without a lot of public and government support. They just disagree about who should pay for it. That’s the difference between policies that reduce tax burden on corporations and those with higher incomes and progressive tax policies that take a higher percentage of income above certain levels.

Essentially, when Romney admits that of course, businesses benefit from public investment in roads, infrastructure, the Internet, research and all the rest — but insists that they should have more tax breaks and lower taxes, he is advocating that business should be allowed to use our publicly funded services and infrastructure for free — or at least, at a huge discount, and that individuals should shoulder the lion’s share of funding the essential services their businesses use and profit from.

In other words, this isn’t an argument about whether or not businesses need and profit from government investment. It’s an argument about whether or not they should pay a fair price for using the fruits of those investments.


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