Yet with the presidential election race now entering its final stages, Mr Obama appears strangely reluctant to address the Afghan issue. Apart from brief references to his achievement in ending the war in Iraq, and his intention to do the same in Afghanistan, the conflict has almost been forgotten so far as the election campaign is concerned, with the Obama team determined to steer clear of an issue that no longer enjoys much popular support. The same goes for Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate. Despite his bellicose statements on national security issues such as Iran, he has been reticent about Afghanistan, beyond echoing the calls for a timely withdrawal: in his keynote speech to the Republican convention, he failed to mention the war, or to pay the customary tribute to America’s forces overseas.
On 10/1, NBC correspondnet Richard Engel reported from a remote village in Wadak Province. The elders are preparing for civil war to combat the Taliban when NATO forces withdraw. Correspondent Engel recounted the history of our involvement in Afghanistan; the operative word was futility.
Friends and neighbors: the level of our involvement in Afghanistan served no strategic purposes. The political elite have wasted thousands of lives and billions of dollars for no discernible reason. Iraq is a disaster. Our economy is like a baseball team with 8 players. The corporate power elite and their political enablers, contrary to the impession they try to convey, are really unconcerned with the lives and aspirations of ordinary people. Unlike a Lincoln or Roosevelt, present day politicians do not identify with the grind of daily life…trying to play by the rules to make it and raise a family.
In the days of spears, swords, and arrows, the strong oppressed the weak: take your cow, take your land, take your daughter, take your life. Today, with democracy, the strong hide behind the law: money is political speech and corporations are people — ENRON, Global Crosing, Tyco, Goldman Sachs, B of A.
They outsource jobs, take your pension and take your peace of mind for the future.
Everyone wants to go to work, not experience problems, and come home. Everyone wants their children to be a success, to pay their rent or mortgage, to keep the government out of daily life, and we want the home team to win.
Romney has omitted the core details of his tax, spending, housing, financial regulation, and health-care plans for a reason. He’s made a point of distancing himself from core elements of the Ryan budget — like the Medicare cuts — for a reason. His campaign made a judgment that they had a better chance of winning this election if they made it about Obama’s policies rather than Romney’s.
The Obama campaign, conversely, can’t escape their policies. The Affordable Care Act is out there. The Dodd-Frank financial regulations are out there. The stimulus is out there. There’s nothing really to do but defend them, and to try and create a contrast with the other side.
Governor Thomas Dewey, a liberal Republican from New York, thought he could coast to victory against President Truman in 1948.
In Romney’s home state of Massachusetts, a launching pad but no big base
Dukakis, Kerry … Romney?
9:50 AM, JUL 5, 2012 • BY WILLIAM KRISTOL
Remember Michael Dukakis (1988) and John Kerry (2004)? It’s possible to lose a winnable presidential election to a vulnerable incumbent in the White House (or in the case of 1988, a sitting vice president). So, speaking of losing candidates from Massachusetts: Is it too much to ask Mitt Romney to get off autopilot and actually think about the race he’s running?
Adopting a prevent defense when it’s only the second quarter and you’re not even ahead is dubious enough as a strategy. But his campaign’s monomaniacal belief that it’s about the economy and only the economy, and that they need to keep telling us stupid voters that it’s only about the economy, has gone from being an annoying tick to a dangerous self-delusion.
As Frank Cannon and Jeff Bell, among others, have pointed out, the economy is not an automatic path to victory. It does provide a favorable backdrop for this year’s campaign. But what are voters to think when they hear the GOP nominee say, as he did yesterday to CBS’s Jan Crawford, “As long as I continue to speak about the economy, I’m going to win”? That they’re dopes who don’t know the economy’s bad, but as long as the Romney campaign keeps instructing them that it is bad, they’ll react correctly and vote the incumbent out of office.
The economy is of course important. But voters want to hear what Romney is going to do about the economy. He can “speak about” how bad the economy is all he wants—though Americans are already well aware of the economy’s problems—but doesn’t the content of what Romney has to say matter? What is his economic growth agenda? His deficit reform agenda? His health care reform agenda? His tax reform agenda? His replacement for Dodd-Frank? No need for any of that, I suppose the Romney campaign believes. Just need to keep on “speaking about the economy.”
The Romney campaign will answer that they’re imitating Bill Clinton in 1992, who famously focused on “the economy, stupid.” But Bill Clinton was a full spectrum presidential candidate, with detailed policy proposals on welfare reform, health care, education, and foreign policy. He also made real efforts to convince the voters he was different from the losing Democratic candidates who preceded him (“a new kind of Democrat,” “ending welfare as we know it,” a hawkish-sounding foreign policy, Sister Souljah, etc.). So far, the Romney campaign doesn’t resemble the Clinton campaign. It seems to be following more comfortably in the tradition of the five post-Cold War Republican presidential candidates who preceded Romney. They received 37.5 percent, 40.7 percent, 47.9 percent, 50.7 percent, and 45.7 percent of the vote, respectively. The average GOP presidential vote in these last five elections was 44.5 percent. In the last three, it was 48.1 percent. Give Romney an extra point for voter disillusionment with Obama, and a half-point for being better financed than his predecessors. It still strikes me as a path to (narrow) defeat.
By the way, Romney made his comment about speaking about the economy on July 4th—a date that might suggest there’s more to the American experiment than the economy.
Fact checker: Obama camp ‘blowing smoke’ calling Romney a felon on Bain Capital
5 Questions for the Fact-Checkers on Romney and Bain
Weighing the evidence on Romney’s departure from Bain: A response to readers
Mitt Romney, empty suit and vulture capitalist, is also a Dubtya do-over along with being a Kerry flip-flopper. The SCOTUS ruling that preserved Obamacare’s individual mandate immediately motivated him to respond. The true impact of the Roberts ruling will in the states during senate and congressional races.
Mitt Romney’s Box of Kryptonite
Mitt Romney’s core claim to success and his singular selling point to become president is his business acumen as founder and director of Bain Capital. Perhaps Romney’s most famous success is his association with Staples. Bain Capital invested the modest sum of $650,000 to open the first store in Brighton, Mass. in 1986. For a total investment of $2.5 million, Bain earned a modest $13 million.
Staples, like Wal-mart, is a super-store, that kills the mom-and-pop local competition: livelihoods and community are destroyed. “Ultimately, Romney would call Staples “a classic ‘category killer,’” like Toys ‘R’ Us.” 139,149
Investing in the Gartner Group produced a return of 1,500 percent and jobs multiplied from 700 to 4,400. Another investment in a popular pizza franchise reaped greater results. A leveraged buyout of Domino’s resulted in billions of profit. 156, 157
In 2000, Bain Capital invested in the “Italian version of the yellow pages.” Due to the dot-com bubble, “they had bought a pot gold.” “In just under three years, in September 2000, the partners sold the investment, earning a windfall that exceeded anyone’s initial expectations. Bain’s $51.3 million investment in the Italian yellow pages returned at least $1.17 billion, according to a Romney associate familiar with the deal.” 160, 161
The different methods of counting underscore what many experts say is the futility of trying to pin a number on something that is essentially unquantifiable. Creating jobs also wasn’t the aim of Bain or other private-equity firms, which measure success by returns produced for investors.
Legal, perhaps ethical, but is it fair? Does Mitt Romney believe hard work pays off or do connections matter more?
Campaigning in Cincinnati, presumed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney hammered President Obama’s handling of the economy and said that Obama’s administration isn’t helping employers.
Is it important for the average American to have the opportunity based on merit to support him/herself along with a family or does realization of the American Dream depend upon the luck of the draw?
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney owns offshore company which means he could be even RICHER than the estimated $250 million
Funds: This image shows the website of Sankaty. Romney has never been cited for failing to disclose information about his money
Where the Money Lives
To give but one example, there is a Bermuda-based entity called Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd., which has been described in securities filings as “a Bermuda corporation wholly owned by W. Mitt Romney.” It could be that Sankaty is an old vehicle with little importance, but Romney appears to have treated it rather carefully. He set it up in 1997, then transferred it to his wife’s newly created blind trust on January 1, 2003, the day before he was inaugurated as Massachusetts’s governor. The director and president of this entity is R. Bradford Malt, the trustee of the blind trust and Romney’s personal lawyer. Romney failed to list this entity on several financial disclosures, even though such a closely held entity would not qualify as an “excepted investment fund” that would not need to be on his disclosure forms. He finally included it on his 2010 tax return. Even after examining that return, we have no idea what is in this company, but it could be valuable, meaning that it is possible Romney’s wealth is even greater than previous estimates. While the Romneys’ spokespeople insist that the couple has paid all the taxes required by law, investments in tax havens such as Bermuda raise many questions, because they are in “jurisdictions where there is virtually no tax and virtually no compliance,” as one Miami-based offshore lawyer put it.
Posted at 05:30 PM ET, 06/26/2012
Why Romney ducks issues
By Jonathan Bernstein
So why doesn’t Mitt Romney advance any policy ideas, anyway? In particular, why doesn’t he advance some ideas — on the economy preferably, but any issue would do — to shield himself from the obvious attack that he’s a more-of-the-same return to the still-unpopular George W. Bush?
It’s no surprise that he doesn’t want a lot of focus on his own proposals; as with most challengers, his best bet is to win all of the votes of people unhappy with the incumbent, and so being as much a generic opponent as possible is a logical strategy. But that doesn’t quite explain his frequent — and sometimes comical — refusal to have any policy positions at all on numerous issues. In particular, Barack Obama has already begun to attack him as a return to Bush; one would think that a few (bland, unthreatening) policy proposals could convince many in the press to at least not amplify that message.
So why doesn’t Romney differentiate himself from Bush? It’s pretty simple, and it gets back to what drives much of the Romney program: fear of conservatives. Or to put it another way: party constraints. After all, while most voters may think of Bush as a typical conservative Republican, many Tea Partiers and other conservative activists see Bush as one step (if that) removed from the dreaded RINO label. And so for Romney, who still must worry about keeping activists happy, there’s no way to square the circle. If Bush was dangerously moderate, then deviating even a bit to the center would put Romney in dangerous territory for activists. But of course a move to the right to separate himself from Bush, and Romney would be courting a reputation for extremism that could be trouble for him with swing voters.
Granted, Romney might have found ways of moving on to new issues that were perceived as neither left nor right. But that’s apparently not his strength as a politician, and it’s not as if the other Republican candidates, Ron Paul excepted, were generating interesting and untried policies of their own. At any rate it would have been too risky during the nomination process, given how easily conservatives have turned on seemingly (and formerly) safe conservative positions. Better, in the primaries, to use attitude (all that stuff about bowing and apologizing, for example) as a substitute for issues for appealing to conservatives.
And for general election swing voters, Romney is following the same path: substituting attitude such as a vague support for jobs for issues — and taking the hits from the occasional reporter who cares about such things — and hoping that it’s enough. It has a down side; it’s getting him a reputation in the press for ducking issues, and it makes it easier to paint him as Mitt W. Romney — but given his constraints, it’s a rational strategy. Expect plenty more of it.
Wall Street Journal: Mitt Romney Is ‘Squandering’ Candidacy With Health Care Tax Snafu
“According to the Journal, if Romney loses his presidential bid, the health care tax snafu could prove to be the turning point. It also makes the Romney campaign look “confused in addition to being politically dumb,” while feeding the former Massachusetts governor’s reputation of being a flip-flopper, the Journal said.”
Romney’s Tax Confusion
The candidate’s response on the ObamaCare mandate reveals larger campaign problems.
The bane of Bain and Mitt Romney’s diminishing tax returns
There is one man who’s seen Mitt’s tax returns: John McCain. And he chose to run with Sarah Palin instead. I rest my case
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 18 July 2012 18.06 EDT
Mitt Romney on Memorial Day 2012, with Senator John McCain, who vetted Romney as a potential vice-presidential running-mate in 2008. Photograph: Daren Fentiman/Zuma Press/Corbis
It’s been a long week for Governor Guess-My-Worthiness: Mitt Romney.
For those of you too busy collecting a six-figure paycheck for a job you no longer do, this is a reminder that it’s Day Five in “The Hunt for the Real Bain CEO”.
Yes, as this story unfolds, it has been inspiring to watch those intrepid reporters lucky enough to be granted an interview with Governor Romcom ask a series of questions as probing as, “Do you want fries or salad with that?” – leaving out one that I thought might clear a few things up:
“OK, Governor, if you were not running Bain Capital from 1999-2002, who was?”
Seriously. No one asked him this.
Just how big is the crack in the foundation of the fourth estate that when four different reporters interviewed but didn’t ask the founder, CEO, chairman and sole shareholder of Bain Capital, the guy whose name is on the SEC filings, the guy who said he flew back to Boston for Thanksgiving and board meetings, the guy who collected an annual salary, who now claims he was not in charge, the simple question, “Then who the […] was running the joint?”! Only, in a more journalisty sort of a way. Grrr.
If only this mysterious CEO was involved in a Bronco chase, or was in a bloody car trunk. Then, even the likes of Nancy Grace would have tirelessly used her manic bully pulpit to get an answer to this one, obvious question.
Now to be fair, people did finally start asking it – just not to Romney. And in his absence, we only have answers from surrogates who have done about as good a job of clearing this up as BP has done in the Gulf. GOP science fiction writer, Ed Gillespie, won the Sunday by boldly going where no man has gone before – literally, back in time, by claiming on CNN that Romneyretroactively retired” back to February 1999.
Yeah, I don’t know, either.
And if you haven’t yet drawn blood from clawing at your scalp in a desperate attempt at finding some clarity in all of this, don’t expect to get it from the GOP Pied Viper Rush Limbaugh. You see, Rush went in a totally different direction, and in one fell spew, lost his Comic-con listeners fo-evah by railing against Hollywood for launching a secret attack on Romney by timing the release of new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, featuring the villain Bane, as an elaborate plot to demonize Bain Capital.
Yes, Rush, yes! In 1992, when these liberal Hollywood commies created the character Bane, they could see into the future (doubling back past Romney’s retroactive retirement) and their single focus was to destroy the GOP 2012 candidate for president.
Garbage in. Garbage out. Can you get a rash from rubbing up against this much idiocy?
Now, clearly, these are examples of people willing to spout these indefensible Mitterings because they love being on TV more than they love their dignity. But … there has been a break in the GOP ranks when it comes to Romney’s pesky tax returns problem. Of course, it’s hard to understand how you can, one the one hand, justify his sketchy Bain tenure, and on the other, demand his tax returns when they very well might reveal he was active, retroactive, proactive, retrofitted or whatever other incarnation of “active” or “retro” one could be when it comes to talking about your role at the corporation you founded and in which you hold all the shares.
Stop scratching your head! It will scab up!
Yes, some of the conserverati – like Bill Kristol, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and many others – are calling for the tax returns to be released … but in a kinder, gentler way that they did a few months back. But the Offshoreman is not budging. He claims he has already released 500 pages of tax returns, which should be enough. Problem is, those 500 pages are not tax “returns”, but one return. One, 500-page return. From a year that no one really cares about.
Quantity does not equal quality, Mitt. Did I just say that to him?
What’s the big whoop? How bad could they be? It’s not like you are being pressured to release your high-school diaries, where maybe you scribbled your fantasies about getting to college so you could dress up like a state trooper and pull unsuspecting women over in their cars for fun.They couldn’t be as embarrassing as all that, could they? ‘Cause that would be reeeallllllllly embarrassing.
Look, Mittsy. All the people who feel they have to earn the presidency have released plenty of returns, 8, 10, 12 years’ worth. Heck, your own dad released 12 years of tax returns when he ran for president. Wait. Maybe, that’s it.
Dude, not releasing your tax returns is a super boring way to rebel against your dad.
Why not just give us the goods – or we are all gonna have to go on the one thing we know for sure. That you released 23 years of tax records to John McCain in 2008, when he vetted you to potentially be his vice-presidential running-mate. At some point, after reading them, he decided Sarah Palin was the better choice.
So, if you don’t show us, we are going to keep thinking there’s something in those returns you don’t want us to see. You betcha.
Polman: GOP’s job-killing election strategy
Dick Polman, Inquirer National Political Columnist
The Republicans’ 2012 election strategy is perversely brilliant: Sabotage President Obama’s job-creation efforts, then blame him for the wreckage.
This strategy was in action the other day, when Mitt Romney assailed Obama on the stump. Romney said that “with America in crisis, with 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work, he hasn’t put forth a plan to get us working again.”
Romney conveniently omitted the fact that Obama put forth such a plan last autumn. The American Jobs Act would have put as many as two million construction workers, cops, teachers, and firefighters back to work — so said economic forecasters — if only congressional Republicans hadn’t dynamited it.
Yes, sabotage was indeed required. Republicans knew their prospects for beating Obama would be damaged if they signed on to a plan that got more Americans working again. They’re far too invested in economic misery to let that happen. Working with Obama on job creation is not their top priority; as Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell candidly remarked in 2010, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
Fortunately for the GOP, voters typically pay scant attention to the parliamentary play-by-play in Washington. Fortunately for the GOP, we are a nation of amnesiacs. What happened last autumn, when Senate Republicans successfully blocked debate on the jobs plan, is ancient history. That episode, yet another example of obstruction by filibuster, has vanished down the Orwellian memory hole — which allows Romney to pretend the bill never existed.
The 2012 election may be a cliff-hanger, much like 2000 and 2004, and the sabotage strategy just may be clever enough to work.
The GOP saboteurs deserve a share of the blame for our stalled economy, but politics is a shorthand business — and the shorthand is that presidents take the hit when times are tough. When the latest jobs report tallied only 69,000 new jobs during May and put the jobless rate at 8.2 percent, Obama got the brunt of the blame. People tend to believe the maxim that sat on Harry S. Truman’s desk — “The buck stops here” — even though power is widely dispersed in a system that cannot function without at least a modicum of bipartisan comity.
Instead, we have black comedy. A new book by the well-sourced writer Robert Draper reveals that Republican congressional insiders met for a private dinner on the night of Obama’s inauguration and mapped a strategy to “show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies” from Day One. On the way out the door, Newt Gingrich, an invited guest, reportedly told his former brethren, “You will remember this day. You’ll remember this as the day the seeds of 2012 were sown.” Newt has a flair for the dramatic, but in this case he was right.
What’s fascinating about Obama’s sabotaged jobs bill is that he tried to attract Republican support by packing it with Republican provisions. For instance, some GOP senators had come up with the idea of creating jobs repairing America’s decaying infrastructure through an independent, privately bankrolled fund. A good idea, but once Obama embraced it, the Republicans naturally deemed it a bad one.
So goodbye, construction jobs. Goodbye also to the funds that would have saved the jobs of 30,000 teachers who have since been laid off by financially strapped states. And goodbye to other Republican provisions, such as slashing payroll taxes for small businesses and allowing them to fully expense new investments. Better for the Republicans to simply reap their sown seeds and blame Obama for the jobs deficit.
Some Democrats contend that Obama should talk about GOP sabotage more. As former Democratic strategist Bob Shrum was quoted as saying recently, “Republicans are clearly rooting for recession. … Republicans’ actions give more and more credibility to [that idea], and if independent voters become convinced of it, they’ll be furious.” Notwithstanding Shrum’s less-than-scintillating track record — as a hired gun in presidential races, he’s 0 for 8 — there is evidence to support his view.
Last November, ABC News-Washington Post pollsters asked Americans whether (1) “President Obama is making a good-faith effort to deal with the country’s economic problems, but the Republicans in Congress are playing politics blocking his proposals and programs,” or (2) “President Obama has not provided leadership on the economy, and he is just blaming the Republicans in Congress as an excuse for not doing his job.” Independents chose the first by a margin of 14 percentage points. However disappointed they may be with Obama, they’re even more turned off by congressional Republicans.
Still, there was a hitch for Obama: Even though 54 percent of independents pinned considerable blame on the GOP for the economy, 53 percent said Obama was not a strong leader. Apparently, they fault him for failing to bend the Republicans to his will. Again, it’s the shorthand: Presidents are expected to get things done.
But presidents also get the credit when things improve, which is why Obama might still prevail in November: He may be positioned to win swing states where the economy is on the mend. That’s the case in Ohio, where the jobless rate is falling thanks to the resurgent auto and steel industries; in Colorado, where the November jobless rate is projected to be a full percentage point lower than the national average; and in Virginia, where it’s down to 5.6 percent and is expected to remain. Obama leads in all three states; Romney needs all of them to win.
So even though GOP sabotage is real, Obama will be judged — up or down — as if the economy is his responsibility alone. And, hey, he asked for it. Back in 2009, he told a crowd, “I love these folks who suddenly say, ‘Well, this is Obama’s economy.’ That’s fine. Give it to me.”
Fairly or not, he has it.
ECONOMY Updated June 14, 2012, 9:43 a.m. ET
Romney Points to Failures, GOP Governors Tout Jobs
BY NEIL KING JR.
A recent TV spot that ran for weeks in Virginia had all the makings of an ad touting President Barack Obama’s re-election effort.
“Virginia is growing strong again, and so is our future,” gushed the narrator, adding that Virginians were now enjoying “the lowest unemployment rate in over three years.”
Far from an Obama campaign plug, the ad was paid for by Republican donors and narrated by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, a potential running mate of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
US election: Job figures are bad news for America – but good news for Mitt Romney
The baleful US jobs numbers might – to quote Mitt Romney – have been “devastating” news for American workers and families, but they were also unalloyed good news for the man who hopes to beat Barack Obama in November.
By Peter Foster,US Editor
6:56PM BST 01 Jun 2012
Even his own side admits that Mitt Romney is, on paper, an uninspiring candidate for president: a tepid speech-maker whoseuber-privileged background and tin ears – he once said “I like firing people” – seem to render him incapable of connecting with ordinary voters.
He is fortunate then, that his ‘rockstar’ opponent seems, of late, to be losing his voice. The November campaign is now shaping up to be a weary contest of negatives; where Mr Obama, rhetorically an increasingly spent force, collides with Mr Romney, the political equivalent of a vacuum.
As such, the latest unemployment figures give Mr Romney his best shot at winning office, puncturing the idea that America’s recovery could continue unaffected by the debt crisis in Europe and a sharp slowdown in China, and allowing him to play his trump card – that of the Mr Fixit CEO.
For that strategy to work, however, Mr Romney still needs to lay out a vision of how he might bring growth and jobs in the face of such global headwinds.
To date he has declined to share any details with the voters, about how he will stimulate the economy while simultaneously promising to slash US government spending to 20 per cent of GDP by 2016, even as he ring-fences military and core welfare spending.
In [a] sign of the lack of concrete ideas, a top Romney economics adviser, Glenn Hubbard, recently argued that merely “clarifying policy” on tax and regulation, will have a stimulus effect. That may possibly be true, but it is hardly a platform for popular election.
At the same time as finding his own voice, Mr Romney must also hope popular economic sentiment turns against Mr Obama.
Strip out political hyperbole, and the new jobs numbers were not “devastating” – jobs are still growing, as are car sales – but they were undeniably a “worrying” sign that the US economy is now hitting stall speeds.
It is true that no incumbent president of modern times has been elected with unemployment at current levels, but it also true that what matters more is the direction of travel. Reagan was re-elected with high 7.2 per cent unemployment in 1984, but crucially the numbers had been falling in the run-up to that election.
Until this month Mr Obama has plausibly been able to argue that life, while still tough, has been improving for the average American worker – but with alarm bells now sounding, that is going to be an increasingly difficult case to make.
Republicans rooting for failure in economy, Obama campaign says
By Jim Puzzanghera
June 3, 2012, 8:49 a.m.
WASHINGTON – Republicans are hoping the economy continues to struggle so they can win the White House in November and should put those political concerns aside and take steps to boost job creation, top Obama campaign officials said Sunday.
Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod accused Republicans of “high-fiving each other” when bad economic news comes out.
“These are the architects of obstruction and now they’re complaining about the pace of the recovery,” Axelrod said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “They should put down their political hats and join us and help solve these problems.”
Obama’s campaign officials reiterated the president’s call for Congress to act on a series of job-creation proposals. Obama renewed that call after Friday’s dismal unemployment report, which showed the U.S. economy added just 69,000 jobs last month.
Republicans seized on the poor jobs report, saying it was evidence Obama’s policies have failed and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney was better suited to reviving the U.S. economy.
“For anybody who is urgently waiting for improvement in the economy, last week was not a very good week,” Eric Fehrnstrom, a Romney campaign advisor, said on “This Week,” also citing a downward revision in economic growth in the first three months of the year and a rise in new claims for unemployment.
“We gave the keys to the largest economy in the world to a person who did not have any prior executive leadership experience,” Fehrnstrom said. “He never even ran a corner store and I think it shows in the way he’s handling the economy.”
But Cutter and Axelrod said that Republicans in Congress are stopping legislation that could help create jobs, such as Obama’s proposals to increase spending on road, bridge and school construction and money for state and local governments to hire or retain teachers, police and firefighters.
“Instead of high-fiving each other on days when there is bad news, they should stop sitting on their hands and work on some of these answers,” Axelrod said.
Did Republicans deliberately crash the US economy?
Be it ideology or stratagem, the GOP has blocked pro-growth policy and backed job-killing austerity – all while blaming Obama
Companies’ Ills Did Not Harm Romney’s Firm
The Boston headquarters of Bain Capital, a firm that usually found a way to make money from companies it controlled even when they ultimately went bankrupt.
By MICHAEL LUO and JULIE CRESWELL
Published: June 22, 2012
Cambridge Industries, an automotive plastics supplier whose losses had been building for three consecutive years, finally filed for bankruptcy in May 2000 under a mountain of debt that had ballooned to more than $300 million.
Yet Bain Capital, the private equity firm that controlled the Michigan-based company, continued to religiously collect its $950,000-a-year “advisory fee” in quarterly installments, even to the very end, according to court documents.
In all, Bain garnered more than $10 million in fees from Cambridge over five years, including a $2.25 million payment just for buying the company, according to bankruptcy records and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Meanwhile, Bain’s investors saw their $16 million investment in Cambridge wiped out.
That Bain was able to reap revenue from Cambridge, even as it foundered, was hardly unusual.
The private equity firm, co-founded and run by Mitt Romney, held a majority stake in more than 40 United States-based companies from its inception in 1984 to early 1999, when Mr. Romney left Bain to lead the Salt Lake City Olympics. Of those companies, at least seven eventually filed for bankruptcy while Bain remained involved, or shortly afterward, according to a review by The New York Times. In some instances, hundreds of employees lost their jobs. In most of those cases, however, records and interviews suggest that Bain and its executives still found a way to make money.
Mr. Romney’s experience at Bain is at the heart of his case for the presidency. He has repeatedly promoted his years working in the “real economy,” arguing that his success turning around troubled companies and helping to start new ones, producing jobs in the process, has prepared him to revive the country’s economy. He has fended off attacks about job losses at companies Bain owned, saying, “Sometimes investments don’t work and you’re not successful.” But an examination of what happened when companies Bain controlled wound up in bankruptcy highlights just how different Bain and other private equity firms are from typical denizens of the real economy, from mom-and-pop stores to bootstrapping entrepreneurial ventures.
Bain structured deals so that it was difficult for the firm and its executives to ever really lose, even if practically everyone else involved with the company that Bain owned did, including its employees, creditors and even, at times, investors in Bain’s funds.
Bain officials vigorously disputed any notion that the firm had profited when its investors lost, arguing that a full accounting of their costs across their business would show otherwise. They also pointed out that Bain employees put their own money at risk in all of the firm’s deals.
“Bain Capital does not make money on investments when our investors lose money,” the company said in a statement. “Any suggestion to the contrary is based on a misleading analysis that examines the income of a business without taking account of expenses.”
To a large extent, however, this is simply the way private equity works, offering its practitioners myriad ways to extract income and limit their risk. Mr. Romney’s candidacy has helped cast a spotlight on an often-opaque industry.
In four of the seven Bain-owned companies that went bankrupt, Bain investors also profited, amassing more than $400 million in gains before the companies ran aground, The Times found. All four, however, later became mired in debt incurred, at least in part, to repay Bain investors or to carry out a Bain-led acquisition strategy.
Perhaps most revealing are the few occasions, like with Cambridge Industries, when Bain’s investors lost. Lucrative fees helped insulate Bain and its executives, records and interviews showed.
Piling On Debt
Having spun off from a management consulting firm, Bain has always been known for its data-driven, analytical approach. Under Mr. Romney, the firm scored some remarkable successes, enabling its investors — wealthy individuals and institutions like pension funds — to collect stellar returns.
MORE 2 pages
Unpacking ‘Romneyomics’: how Mitt would adjust dials on the US economy
Mitt Romney offers a prescription for the ailing US economy that hews to Republican principles. But it also has some unorthodox differences. Well-off Americans could get fewer government benefits and pay more for Medicare.
By Ron Scherer, Staff writer / June 20, 2012
Mitt Romney’s prescription for the sluggish US economy looks to be straight from the traditional Republican mold: Cut taxes to stimulate growth, and cut spending to shrink the federal deficit. Pour more money into defense. Promise to root out waste in government. And then, the economic road map of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee swerves off in an unexpected direction: means testing for recipients of Medicare and Social Security.
That means well-to-do Americans would eventually get a lesser share of benefits from those big government entitlement programs than they do now. “We don’t need Social Security to provide retirement income for upper-income people,” says Glenn Hubbard, a top economic adviser to Mr. Romney and the dean of the Columbia University Business School here, in an interview. “The nation can’t afford a very large program that’s across the board. What we can do is focus on people who really need help.”
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The solution under Romneyomics? Future retirees who are well off would see their benefits rise at a slower pace than would be the case for current retirees – and at a slower pace than for their middle-income peers, says Mr. Hubbard. Likewise, higher-income Americans might be required to pay for private insurance or to pay an additional premium if they want to remain in the Medicare system.
It may seem an unorthodox proposal for the standard-bearer of the Republican Party, which likes to castigate President Obama for “class warfare” over his desire to end the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich. But to hear Hubbard tell it, the wealthiest citizens of America could expect, under a Romney White House, to see less generous benefits from government programs, including Medicare, and, if Romney could get tax reform through Congress, they would lose many tax deductions and exemptions as well.
“Romney says everything [on tax reform] is on the table, and it has to be done so most of the burden is borne by upper-income people,” says Hubbard.
Who would qualify as upper income? That’s up to Congress and the president, says Hubbard, declining to name a dollar amount.
Of course, no one would ever describe the Romney plan as an assault on high-income wage earners. Those Americans would benefit, for instance, from Romney’s proposal to drop the top tax rate on their income from 35 percent to 28 percent. Mr. Obama, by way of contrast, wants to push the top marginal rate to 39.6 percent – and as high as 43.4 percent on unearned income such as dividends (compared with 15 percent now).
And Romneyomics would certainly pinch people in other income classes. One change would be to raise the retirement age at which workers could collect full Social Security benefits, Hubbard says – a move that would affect most US families.
Speaking by phone from the campaign trail in Nebraska, Kerrey rattles off the statistics on fewer workers supporting the benefits of a larger number of retirees as federal entitlement spending squeezes out every other public investment in the general welfare.
“Our future as a great country depends on our ability to resolve this problem,” he says. It has been his consistent warning since he co-chaired the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement Reform in the early 1990s. And it is the cause that has led him back into elective politics after an 11-year absence.
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