The Romney campaign’s “Bain problem,” which is also now the Republican party’s problem, doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. Sure, Republicans are figuring out that this is not a winning issue for them. Thus they’ve circled their wagons around Romney, and even tried to get Newt to turn it down a couple of notches. Even the funder who gave Newt the money to green-light “When Mitt Romney Came To Down” is having second thoughts.
But never mind all that. The story has now gotten big enough to draw Sarah Palin out of an extended break from her bus tour, to advise Romney to open up the books on his tenure at Bain.
Republican star and Fox News political analyst Sarah Palin said criticism of Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital by some Republican rivals is fair game and that voters should get “proof” of the 100,000 jobs Mr. Romney said he helped create while he headed the private equity firm.
In an interview with Fox host Sean Hannity Wednesday, Ms. Palin was asked about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s comments that Mr. Romney had practiced “vulture capitalism” rather than venture capitalism at Bain. Fox and The Wall Street Journal are owned by News Corp.
“I don’t agree with attacks on free-market capitalism at all but I don’t believe this is really what is at the heart of Gov. Perry’s criticism of Romney and his time at Bain,” the former Alaska governor replied. “This isn’t about a politician making huge profits in the private sector. I think what Gov. Perry is getting at is that Gov. Romney has claimed to have created 100,000 jobs at Bain and you know, now people are wanting to know is there proof of that claim.”
In a similar vein, Palin called on Romney to (finally) release his tax returns.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin suggested Wednesday that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney should release his tax returns, as well as records from his time at Bain Capital.
“What I heard was a little bit what’s going on today is some inoculation of the candidate himself, the frontrunner, and what it is that he’s going to face when he comes up against Barack Obama. Nobody should be surprised that things about Bain Capital, and maybe tax returns not being released yet, and maybe some records not being as transparently provided to the public as voters deserve to see right now, don’t be surprised that’s all coming out today,” she told Sean Hannity Wednesday on Fox News. “Let’s get it out there, let’s hear the defense of the candidates who are being charged with some of this. It’s kind of like some come-to-Jesus moments for these candidates, and that’s good, that’s healthy.”
The problem is, “free enterprise” is not on trial, and Bain isn’t so much the representative of capitalism as the Frankenstein monster of capitalism stitched together and brought to life by conservative policy.
As a former manager at Bain made plain in an LA Time interview, job creation was never the mission at Bain Capital. So, there’s very little evidence to support Romney’s claim of creating 100,000 jobs at Bain. Bain won’t release its overall record of jobs lost or created. Probably because it wasn’t anybody’s job to create jobs at Bain. Ask them about how much they returned to investors they can probably do that. Creating wealth was the job at Bain, not creating jobs. And we’ve already had a decade of the Bush tax cuts benefiting the wealthy, the rich getting richer, and zero job growth to teach us that creating wealth doesn’t necessarily lead to job creation.
Warren Buffet, in a Time Magazine interview, made clear another reason why Romney couldn’t follow Palin’s advice if he wanted to.
When I ask whether Mitt Romney is a job creator or destroyer, Buffett says that while businesses shouldn’t keep people they don’t need, “I don’t like what private-equity firms do in terms of taking out every dime they can and leveraging [companies] up so that they really aren’t equipped, in some cases, for the future.”
Even without a release from Bain, we what we know about one of Bain’s acquisitions -- in which Romney was a very hands-on manager -- is exactly what Buffet described.
But an examination of the Dade deal, which Mr. Romney approved and presided over, shows the unintended human costs and messy financial consequences behind the brand of capitalism that he practiced for 15 years.
At Bain Capital's direction, Dade quadrupled the money it owed creditors and vendors. It took steps that propelled the business toward bankruptcy. And in waves of layoffs, it cut loose 1,700 workers in the United States, including Brian and Christine Shoemaker, who lost their jobs at a plant in Westwood, Mass. Staggered, Mr. Shoemaker wondered, "How can the bean counters just come in here and say, Hey, it's over?"
Why release records on jobs created or destroyed and risk confirming stories like the one above?
That brings me to why Romney can’t exactly follow Palin’s advice on taxes. Certainly not now, anyway, with a majority of Americans citing economic inequality as a source of conflict, Newt shining a spotlight on Mitt’s vulture capitalism, and voters in the 99% steering clear of him.
If he releases his tax returns Romney runs the risk, in the current climate, of revealing just how rich he is. For the record, according to Wealth-X, he’s one of the 10 richest people to run for president in the last 20 years. His net worth of $250 million makes him the third richest person to seek the oval office, after Ross Perot (#1) and Steve Forbes (#2).
Romney’s wealth makes him one of the 3,140 wealthiest people in the country -- that’s the richest 0.001 percent of Americans. So, he’s not just the candidate of the 1 percent, but the candidate of the 0.001 percent.
Releasing his tax returns would just confirm to many American voters that Romney got rich by practicing the very brand of vulture capitalism Buffet criticized, which is exactly what Newt accused him of.
Unfortunately for Romney, I think all of this is already but confirmed for a good many Americans.