The Bane of Bain and Beyond

Settling down to the long weekend with some vacation days thrown in for good measure, I decided to peruse one of the news sites that seem to tap into the real pulse of the political world:  RealClearPolitics.com  While there, one Bloomberg article caught my eye: Why Both Obama and Romney Want to Talk About Bain.  Yes, both candidates want to talk about Bain Capital, but for different reasons.

First, Mitt Romney:

“Having been in the private sector for 25 years gives me a perspective on how jobs are created that someone who’s never spent a day in the private sector, like President Obama, simply doesn’t understand.”

Next, President Obama:

The Obama campaign wants to discuss Bain because its team believes it shows Romney is unqualified for the presidency. Romney knows how to strip a business for parts, and to make investors and himself rich, but he doesn’t know how to expand opportunity or how to look out for workers left behind by economic dislocation.

“If your main argument for how to grow the economy is ‘I knew how to make a lot of money for investors,’ then you’re missing what this job is about,” Obama stated.

Yes, Mitt Romney remotely fired people when plants were closed & the assets sold off.  That was one of the purposes of the company he ran.  If the plants turned around and became profitable, they were sold off as a return on investment and people kept their jobs.  But isn’t that what capitalism is about?  Underperforming or non-profitable businesses do not last long – the money eventually runs out.  And unlike the government, deficit spending is often not an option.

Another article has this to say about Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital:

Romney took Bain to the next logical step–investing in companies that Bain improved. There was nothing wrong, and much that was right, about this in each individual case. Romney is telling the truth as he sees it: sometimes these investments didn’t work out, but often they did and the profits were huge. It’s also true that sharkier sorts, seeing the profits that could be wrung up in debt for equity swaps, jumped into the market in a far less responsible way than Bain had and engaged in the vulture capitalism–we’ll always be grateful to Rick Perry for that term–that has helped to hollow out the economy.

It seems to me that Obama’s immediate point is wrong: Romney wasn’t primarily about job destruction and corporate plundering. His larger point–that Romney was not so much about job-creation as he was about profit-creation–is correct, though. But the largest point of all is this: private equity capitalism was all about short-term profits–maximizing shareholder value–rather than long-term growth. It ushered in an era of massive executive compensation and bonuses. It prospered because of tax rules that made debt more profitable than equity, and a “carried interest” tax dodge that enabled Mitt Romney to pay a lower percentage in taxes than your average construction worker. It can be a useful tool in restructuring companies and steering them toward profitability, but it is not the sort of model you’d want to apply to the entire American economy.

President Obama’s reelection campaign will now hammer home Romney’s “let’s make a profit” stance with Bain Capital, and will point out ever-so-casually that these were the tactics of the 1% to hammer the rest of the 99%.  And yet another talking point for the class-warfare campaign point that I’m predicting will make it’s appearance if/when Romney becomes the Republican candidate.

But while the scrutiny starts up on Romney, President Obama is beginning to feel some heat on his qualifications.  For instance…

We’ve all heard the assertion that President Obama is “the smartest man elected to the Presidency.”  Let’s look at some excerpts from this article by Jack Kelly:

Barack Obama is the smartest man with the highest IQ ever to be elected to the presidency, historian Michael Beschloss told radio talk show host Don Imus in November of 2008.

“So what is his IQ?” Mr. Imus asked. Mr. Beschloss didn’t know. He was just assuming.

There is little evidence to support it. Mr. Obama went to Harvard, but so did George W. Bush, who some liberals consider dumber than dirt. The president won’t release his transcripts, so we can’t judge by his grades. Mr. Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review, but when he was selected, popularity mattered more than scholarship.

Mr. Obama joined an undistinguished law firm, where he tried no cases. So no help there.

Many cite the president’s oratorical skills, but he often rambles when he speaks without a teleprompter. That’s because his brain “is moving so fast that the mouth can’t keep up,” wrote Meghan Daum of the Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Obama has said a lot of unsmart things: there are 57 states; Canada has a president; “Austrian” is a language; America is “20 centuries” old; Arabic is spoken in Afghanistan. He’s called the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) the Maldives, and declared it would be “unprecedented” for the Supreme Court to invalidate a law passed by Congress.

President Obama’s stimulus bill didn’t stimulate. His subsidies to “green” firms have produced neither the jobs nor the energy he promised. Unemployment on his watch peaked at 10 percent, one of the highest rates since the Great Depression. Deficits are out of control.

“The man who promised everything is delivering nothing,” wrote Noemie Emery in the Weekly Standard. “Journalists who wept when he won the election now grind their teeth in despair. … The gap between sizzle and steak never seemed so large.”

Could it be that Mr. Obama’s “superior intellect” is a myth created by journalists to mask what may be the thinnest resume of anyone ever elected president? An example of puffery is the description of Mr. Obama as a former “professor of constitutional law.” Mr. Obama was a part time instructor at the University of Chicago law school, without the title or status of professor. And, according to blogger Doug Ross, he wasn’t very popular with the real professors.

I’ve stated earlier in 2008 that then candidate Obama was an “empty suit” in both this blog and in comments on other blogs.  Many of the readers of this blog know this, and the rest of the world is beginning to believe it too.

But I’m not sure that Romney is any better suited to lead this country out of the mess it’s in.  But I certainly think that to keep Obama in the White House will be a bigger disaster just based on his past three-year performance.

The polls are statistically in a dead heat at this point in time.  What happens to the economy (and what happens in the Eurozone) in the months leading up to the election will have a huge impact no matter what the campaign machines churn out.  That is precluding any self-destruction that either candidate inflicts upon themselves.

Yeah, we live in interesting times…

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About Tom Roland

EE for 25 Years, Two Patents - now a certified PMP. Married twice, burned once. One son with Asperger's Syndrome. Two cats. Conservative leaning to the Right. NRA Life Member.
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3 Responses to The Bane of Bain and Beyond

  1. The Griper says:

    “What happens to the economy…”
    that is true but is also one of the things that upsets me as a voter. we allow external factors determine our vote rather than internal factors like leadership qualities of the man himself.

  2. jellysky says:

    Romney’s weakness certainly is time at Bain Capital being a vulture capitalist even though he tries to play if off as a strength. I think come November people will realize that and they will associate negativity with Bain. Btw the Dark Knight Rises should help. Thought this website was funny. It says that Romney may be the Bane of Existence using a pun involving the villain Bane and Bain Capital.

  3. Tom says:

    Griper – And that’s our problem. We, the voters, keep electing clowns on appearance and promises rather than qualifications.

    jellysky – Bain Capital is an investment firm, and like all businesses, is to make a profit. That means that some investments will pan out, others will fail. Romney, at least, understands what business is about. Obama, on the other hand, does not. The toons are interesting, but misleading.

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