Monday, January 09, 2012
Romney's "Dukakis Moment"? We all know that there's a certain amount of puffery, nonsense, and playing games with the truth if not outrite lying, in politics. But sometimes the hypocrisy is SO blatant that it torpedoes a candidate. With 1988 Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis (also a Governor of Massachusetts), that moment was when he did a foto-op in an M1 Abrams tank, despite a reputation for being at best disinclined to indulge the military and at worst for being hostile to the military.
Now Mitt Romney has been caut in an appallingly disingenuous attempt to connect with people who have lost, or face losing, their jobs. What he said was so plainly, absurdly false — indeed the opposite of the truth — that rivals have landed hard on the hypocrisy, as well they should.
He is shown on a CBS News video as saying:
I know what it's like to worry whether you're going to get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered if I was going to get a pink slip.Rick Perry exposed the reality, that Mitt Romney not only has NEVER had to worry about his own job in the private sector, for being an extremely wealthy man, from a rich family, but that his business career actually entailed downsizing companies, bankrupting some, and throwing thousands of people out of work.
"Now I have no doubt that Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips — whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out because his company Bain Capital with all the jobs that they killed, I’m sure he was worried that he’d run out of pink slips," Perry told the crowd at Mama Penn’s restaurant.And that's just two companies in one state that Romney's company ravaged. Someone needs to do a tally of Bain's reign of terror, and hang it around Romney's neck for all to see. The Wall Street Journal already did some of this investigation, altho the report I saw does not count the jobs Romney destroyed. Bizarrely, a radical free-enterprise website dares to cite damning statistics from the WSJ report, and then make excuses for them, and claim they show really good results! Here is what the Journal found.
Perry laid into Romney for heading a company which Perry alleged eliminated hundreds of South Carolina jobs.
"There is something inherently wrong when getting rich off failure and sticking it to someone else is how you do your business and I happen to think that’s indefensible," said Perry. "If you’re a victim of Bain Capital’s downsizing, it’s the ultimate insult for Mitt Romney to come to South Carolina and tell you he feels your pain, because he caused it."
Perry cited two South Carolina companies impacted by Bain Capital’s downsizing. Holson Burnes, a company controlled by Bain Capital in Gafney, shut down a photo album plant, causing 150 workers to lose their jobs after Bain Capital charged them $20 million in management fees. Perry also cited GS Industries in Georgetown, S.C., which Bain Capital merged with a company in Kansas City, resulting in the dismissal of 700 steelworkers in the two cities and the payment of $65 million in management fees.
The Wall Street Journal, aiming for a comprehensive assessment, examined 77 businesses Bain invested in while Mr. Romney led the firm from its 1984 start until early 1999, to see how they fared during Bain's involvement and shortly afterward.The lunatic writer, James Pethokoukis, at The Free Enterprise Blog, said:
Among the findings: 22% either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested, sometimes with substantial job losses. An additional 8% ran into so much trouble that all of the money Bain invested was lost. * * *
The Journal's findings could provide fodder for both critics and supporters of Mr. Romney's presidential ambitions and of his role at Bain. Some experts, while conceding that available studies don't provide a direct comparison, said the rate at which the firms Bain invested in ran into trouble appears to be higher than experienced by some rival buyout firms during the era.
So what does it all mean? Well, Romney was really good at what he did. And what he did, initially, was venture capital, providing dough to promising young firms. Then he shifted to private equity, which is a) using investor money and debt to take over a business, b) attempting to improve its profitability (which may mean cutting the workforce), and c) selling the business and, as the WSJ, puts it, "extracting fees and sometimes dividends."Mr. Pethokoukis is an apologist for what I call "Monster Capitalism", in which all the harms done by free-market capitalism are trivialized, and the positive things are preposterously exaggerated. In regard to Romney's record in particular, Pethokoukis ignores the finding of the WSJ study that Bain Capital's record of bankruptcies was HIGHER than average.
[Repeat of a point made above, to show it in context with what I show below:] 22% either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested, sometimes with substantial job losses. * * *Think about that. If one uses the WSJournal's first figure, 22%, Bain's performance is from 2.75 to 4.4X worse than the average. If one uses the Journal's downwardly adjusted figure of 12%, it is still between 1.5 and 2.4X the average. That is NOT a stellar record of success for Romney's Bain Capital career.
If the Journal analysis were limited to bankruptcies and closures occurring by the end of the fifth year after Bain first invested, the rate would move down to 12%. * * *
Academic research provides some basis to compare this performance. A study of buyouts by various firms globally found a 5% to 8% bankruptcy rate among target companies that were taken over from 1985 to 1999.
Romney has attempted to trivialize the profoundly destructive role he has played in the free market by saying he was not going to 'apologize for capitalism' or 'the free market' (I can't find the exact quote among early Google results).
In response to criticism from Newt Gingrich, Romney said, "Doesn't he understand how the economy works? In the real economy, some businesses succeed and some fail." How is someone who accepts the inevitability of some level of economic disaster, in position to claim that President Obama bears special blame for the current economy? How is a man who bankrupted many businesses and cost thousands of workers their jobs, going to pose as savior of the economy and working people? It's absurd.
That would be bad enuf, but for Romney to pretend to have been worried, himself, about being fired is just disgraceful. He is the scion of a wealthy father. Even if he had lost a job, that would have produced absolutely no hardship for him, given his family's, and his own, millions. Romney's present estimated fortune is in the neighborhood of $250 million! And he has just built an enormous house in California, at a time when millions of Americans have lost their modest homes to foreclosure. Romney has also claimed to be part of the middle class!
All of this leaves a very bad taste in the mouth of Americans of modest means, who are at best holding on to their jobs and homes by the barest of threads.
Romney's Mexican Roots. The Univisión national network TV news today addressed Mitt Romney's Mexican connection, the fact that his father, George, was born in Mexico (175 miles from the border with Texas) and did not come to the U.S. until age five. The story on Noticiero Univisión shows one paragraf on one page of a book Romney wrote, with two phrases underscored, to show what I take to be Romney's entire discussion of what Noticiero calls his "Raíces Mexicanas" (Mexican Roots).
In that paragraf, he claims that his family was in danger from Mexican revolutionaries, but there are to this day something like 50 Romney cousins still in a Mormon community in the Casas Grandes area of Mexico. They didn't run all the way to the United States.
(My summary of that news story depends on my poor Spanish; but you can check the video yourself.) A distant cousin, Leighton Romney, is shown on camera saying that as far as he knows, Mitt Romney has never visited his father's Mexican place of birth. Hm. I have visited my father's place of birth. Another "Fundamentalist Mormon", in that settlement, Julián LeBarón, is heard to say that, in lite of Romney's family history of fleeing the U.S. to escape persecution, Mitt Romney's hostility to immigration of "indocumentados" (illegal immigrants) in the U.S. is "muy ofensivo". I'll let you guess what that means. LeBaron indeed refers to Romney as a "perseguidor": "persecutor".
An earlier news story on this topic says:
But Romney hardly ever mentions his father’s roots in Mexico or the fact that he still has many distant relatives living in the country and it’s not surprising the subject does not come up more often. His family’s history there is controversial. Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, fled the U.S. to Mexico with a group of Mormons in 1885 to avoid anti-polygamy laws in America. And a Washington Post piece published in July detailed how his relatives have more open views on immigration than the former Massachusetts governor.So Romney's Mexican connection is tenuous, of little more importance than John McCain's Panamanian connection. Both George Romney and John McCain were born to U.S. citizens, so were never citizens of any other country. Despite his privileged background, which would have enabled him to learn Spanish easily and, for him, inexpensively, I have never heard Mitt Romney speak Spanish. What kind of aspirant to high political office in the United States, takes no time nor trouble to appeal to the Hispanic community, the largest minority in the Nation? I know: a person who feels no connection to Hispanics' lives, and knows better than to expect any significant number of Latinos to vote for him. In that I haven't heard ANY of the Republican candidates say so much as one sentence in Spanish, the same observation holds for them too. The Republican Party doesn't care about minorities, but somehow believes that it can win the White House while paying not even lip service to a fourth of the electorate.
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