Yes, President Obama Has Worked In the Private Sector

  @ashleyportero on August 29 2012 10:27 AM
Barack Obama
A new documentary slamming president Obama is doing a brisk business at the box office. Reuters

One of the most searing criticisms that Republicans like to launch at President Barack Obama is that he has absolutely no experience working in the private sector, an offense often used to bolster the implication (or straight-up accusation) that Obama is a Socialist president who has never truly experienced a day of hard work -- that wasn't at the teat of big government -- in his life.  

It's already been cited on multiple occasions during the Republican National Convention, with both New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayote and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus alleging that the president is obviously unfit for the highest office in the land, as he "never even ran a lemonade stand." He doesn't know anything about business, so how could he be expected to reinvigorate the economy?

But while it's true that Obama's most publicized work experience, as a community organizer and politician, has been for governments or non-profit organizations, he has received paychecks from at least 11 different for-profit companies (CQ). According to Politifact -- which dug into Obama's employment history after MSNBC host Joe Scarborough remarked that "if you're going to run the most complex financial sectors in the world, I hope that you have at least received a paycheck for working at a burger stand" in 2009 -- the president has, at various points, worked as an ice cream scooper, telemarketer, construction worker, and private attorney.

Here is Obama's full work history, as detailed by Politifact:

1975 or 1976 - ice cream scooper, Baskin-Robbins - Honolulu - Obama claims to have lost his taste for ice cream during this, his first job, the duration of which is not publicly known.

Date unknown - deli counter clerk, business name unknown - Honolulu - Obama had a summer job at a deli counter in Hawaii, making sandwiches, his spokesman said during the presidential campaign.

1980 - gift shop sales clerk, business name unknown - Honolulu - Obama worked at a gift shop in Hawaii selling island souvenirs the summer after his freshman year at Occidental College in California.

Sometime between 1981-1983 - construction worker, business name unknown - New York - Obama cleared a construction site for a summer on Manhattan's Upper West Side while attending Columbia University, the Associated Press reported. Obama referred to this job in Dreams From My Father .

Sometime between 1981-1983 - position unknown, company unknown - New York - During his years at Columbia University, Obama worked one summer for a private company processing health records of either police or firefighters, his spokesman said during the presidential campaign.

Sometime between 1981-1983 - telemarketer, company unknown - New York - During one school year at Columbia, Obama was a telemarketer in midtown Manhattan selling New York Times subscriptions over the phone, his spokesman said during the presidential campaign.

1983-84 - research assistant, Business International Corporation - New York - At this firm that helped American companies do business abroad, Obama was a researcher and writer for a reference service called Financing Foreign Operations; among his duties was writing a newsletter called Business International Money Report.

1985 - project coordinator, New York Public Interest Research Group - New York - Obama mobilized student volunteers at City College in Harlem for NYPIRG, a nonprofit organization that promotes consumer, environmental and government reform. He promoted activism around issues such as mass transit, higher education, tuition, financial aid and recycling.

1985-1988 - community organizer, Developing Communities Project - Chicago - Obama advocated for asbestos removal, job training and public-works services at this community organization on Chicago's South Side.

1988 - research assistant, Lawrence Tribe - student assistant to this Harvard Law School professor and renowned constitutional scholar.

1989 - summer associate, Hopkins & Sutter - Obama held this job the summer between his first and second years of law school.

1990 - summer associate, Sidley & Austin - After his second year of law school Obama was a summer associate for one of the world's oldest and largest law firms, where he met Michelle Robinson, his future wife.

1990-1991 - president, Harvard Law Review - Obama was the first African-American to hold this prestigious position.

1991-1992 - executive director, Project Vote - Ran a campaign that registered nearly 150,000 black voters for the 1992 elections.

1993-2004 - associate and partner (starting 1996), Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland - Chicago - defended clients ranging from landlords to a securities trader, and handled employment-discrimination and voting-rights cases at this Chicago law firm.

1993-2004 - part-time lecturer, University of Chicago Law School - Chicago - lectured on constitutional law.

1995 - author, Times Books - published memoir, Dreams From My Father.

1997-2004 - state senator, Illinois - senator from Illinois' 13th District on Chicago's South Side.

2005-2008 - U.S. Senator - represented Illinois in the U.S. Senate.

2006 -- Author, Random House - published The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.

2009 - President, United States - Washington - In his current position, Obama is the head of state of the most powerful country in the world. He runs the executive branch and serves as commander in chief of the armed forces.

The final count? Eleven private sector jobs, compared to six nonprofit or government employers. Granted, he may not have a career built on business management like his opponent Mitt Romney, but implying that he has less experience than the kid flipping burgers at McDonalds? Completely false.

Besides, isn't his employment history -- that of a man who went from an ice cream scooper to the president of the United States in about 33 years -- the epitome of the American dream?

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