Monday, January 30, 2012

More on when Romney came to town

I collected a lot of links and excerpts for my posts on Bain Capital and Mitt Romney, but didn't get around to using them until now. I decided to put together a meal of leftovers before the Florida primary tomorrow so that they don't go to waste. Enjoy!

Paul Krugman at the NYT: Bain, Barack and Jobs
The real complaint about Mr. Romney and his colleagues isn’t that they destroyed jobs, but that they destroyed good jobs.

When the dust settled after the companies that Bain restructured were downsized — or, as happened all too often, went bankrupt — total U.S. employment was probably about the same as it would have been in any case. But the jobs that were lost paid more and had better benefits than the jobs that replaced them. Mr. Romney and those like him didn’t destroy jobs, but they did enrich themselves while helping to destroy the American middle class.

And that reality is, of course, what all the blather and misdirection about job-creating businessmen and job-destroying Democrats is meant to obscure.
For more on this topic, read When Mitt Romney came to Kansas City on Daily Kos.

That's not all from Krugman. Here's more.

America Isn’t a Corporation
“And greed — you mark my words — will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.”

That’s how the fictional Gordon Gekko finished his famous “Greed is good” speech in the 1987 film “Wall Street.” In the movie, Gekko got his comeuppance. But in real life, Gekkoism triumphed, and policy based on the notion that greed is good is a major reason why income has grown so much more rapidly for the richest 1 percent than for the middle class.

Today, however, let’s focus on the rest of that sentence, which compares America to a corporation. This, too, is an idea that has been widely accepted. And it’s the main plank of Mitt Romney’s case that he should be president: In effect, he is asserting that what we need to fix our ailing economy is someone who has been successful in business.

In so doing, he has, of course, invited close scrutiny of his business career. And it turns out that there is at least a whiff of Gordon Gekko in his time at Bain Capital, a private equity firm; he was a buyer and seller of businesses, often to the detriment of their employees, rather than someone who ran companies for the long haul.
America certainly needs better economic policies than it has right now — and while most of the blame for poor policies belongs to Republicans and their scorched-earth opposition to anything constructive, the president has made some important mistakes. But we’re not going to get better policies if the man sitting in the Oval Office next year sees his job as being that of engineering a leveraged buyout of America Inc.
Salon has even more scathing things to say about Willard the Rat.

Romney and the pathology of Bain
Romney’s tenure at Bain, which he ran from 1984 to 1999, is currently being raked over the coals in the media and in a TV spot paid for by the stunningly hypocritical Newt Gingrich, but I’m not seeing much about what this says about him as a human being.

Here’s one of the better brief digests of Romney as a corporate job-destroyer, written by Josh Kosman, who wrote an excellent book in 2010 on the buyout industry called “The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Is Destroying Jobs and Killing the American Economy.” This book is required reading for anybody who wants to understand what Romney did for a living at Bain. He is the living embodiment of how the “job creator” Republican meme is grotesquely misleading, if not an outright lie.

You can’t really blame him. It was his job. Or as Don Vito Corleone once put it, it was “strictly business.” Romney was taught at Harvard Business School that the purpose of a corporation is not to “create jobs” but to create profits for its owners by, among other things, keeping the cost of labor at an absolute minimum. Job creation, if any, is incidental and entirely expendable, sort of the way oil-drilling rigs burn off natural gas. If profits are to be enhanced by job destruction, so much the better.
More commentary in Why Does Romney Lie About EVERYTHING? That's What Sociopaths Do.

Finally, the Washington Post: When Romney ran Bain Capital, his word was not his bond
I don’t know if Bain Capital still uses the bait-and-switch technique when it competes in auctions these days (I’m told that it doesn’t). But that was the way the firm’s partners competed when Romney ran the place. This win-at-any-cost approach makes me wonder how a President Romney would negotiate with Congress, or with China, or with anyone else — and what a promise, pledge or endorsement from him would actually mean.

Would a President Romney, along with a Republican Congress, cut taxes for the wealthy even more than he has pledged to do? Would he not try to balance the federal budget, even though he has said he would? Would he protect defense spending, as he has indicated he would?

I have no idea how Romney might behave in office. I do believe, however, that when he was running Bain Capital, his word was not his bond.
As Krugman remarked when he wrote about this article:
This isn’t a policy issue; it’s the kind of thing I usually try to stay away from, the supposedly character-revealing nature of someone’s personal history. But as these things go, it’s especially interesting. Would you buy a used company — or a used ideology — from this guy?
I know I wouldn't.

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