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The Hill—Transportation Union: Romney Needs to be Enrolled in 'Economics 101'

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[By Keith Laing of The Hill]

A prominent transportation union is sharply criticizing Mitt Romney for attacking President Obama’s statements about the government’s role in building public infrastructure, which the president argues is used by businesses to help them succeed.

The presumptive GOP nominee has seized on a statement by Obama that business “didn’t build that,” which Democrats have pointed out was a reference to infrastructure, to argue that the president does not understand the way business works.

But the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department said Thursday it was Romney would needed an economic lesson.

“The point the president was making is that private business, big or small, cannot thrive without public investments including investment in all forms of transportation,” AFL-CIO TTD President Edward Wytkind said in a statement.

“These things cost money and without those public resources the private sector couldn’t thrive,” Wytkind continued. “This point is pretty obvious to anyone — that is except Mr. Romney and his campaign, which will say virtually anything to deflect attention away from Swiss bank accounts, tax returns shrouded in secrecy, and the Bain founder’s record of outsourcing American jobs.”

The AFL-CIO has endorsed Obama in his bid for reelection.

Romney’s campaign has argued that regardless of its original context, the “you didn’t build that” statement reveals Obama is out-of-touch with business owners in the country.

“The idea to say that Steve Jobs didn’t build Apple, that Henry Ford didn’t build Ford Motors, that Papa John didn’t build Papa John’s … it’s not just foolishness, it’s insulting to every entrepreneur in America,” Romney said at a Pennsylvania campaign rally Tuesday.

Romney released a new ad Thursday featuring a New Hampshire business owner criticizing Obama for the remark.

“My father’s hands didn’t build this company? My hands didn’t build this company? My son’s hands aren’t building this company? Did somebody else take out the loan on my father’s house to finance the equipment? Did somebody else make payroll every week or figure out where it’s coming from?” the owner, Jack Gilchrist, says in the ad.

Wytkind said Thursday that the argument of the Romney campaign ad widely misses the mark.

“Transportation is one of the most important wealth creators in our economy and even Mitt Romney, the self-proclaimed expert on everything about the economy, should understand this unambiguous fact,” Wytkind said.

“When passenger rail and transit systems get people to and from work or meetings, they are keeping the arteries of the economy healthy,” he continued. “When our air transportation system flies more than 600 million passengers this year, our businesses will thrive. Without well-funded and modern seaports and navigation channels our exports are choked and our system of commerce fails. When our freight railroads, trucking companies and manufacturers are humming our economy is humming. Sort of Economics 101.”