Let’s get the “news” out of the way…Mitt wins New Hampshire, with less than 40% of the vote.
The debate du jour is whether Romney has a serious problem because Bain Capital did what all private equity turnaround firms do: cut costs, often by firing people. Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry are doing their damnedest to cause him one.
Romney, as Ezra Klein points out, has trapped himself into making his experience at Bain about creating jobs, when that wasn’t what he did, because it wasn’t ever what he intended to do. His job was to make Bain’s small cadre of wealthy private investors more wealthy, which he did spectacularly well, making himself very wealthy in the process. The notion that job creation was ever on the lips of anyone at Bain Capital is laughable, and no amount of hazy hagiography is going to change that.
The honest Romney argument is that Bain Capital was about wringing efficiency out of troubled (or, in the case of Staples, for example, fledgeling) companies to increase their value. What Bain shows is that Romney was gifted at a coldly brutal calculus that was completely agnostic about job creation. If it happened, great, but that was totally beside the point. A gift for unbiased evaluation and action is certainly a marketable skill, if only Romney belonged to a political party that based its policies on, you know, evidence.
Sadly, Romney’s ability to fashion appropriate policies for economic conditions is irrelevant, because if you’re a Republican, you’re required to cut taxes – mostly on the wealthy – and wait for them to throw a few shekels down on the unwashed masses. And get rid of Medicare in any meaningful form.
Furthermore, Mitt’s now trapped in a lie, or, to be charitable, an fictional re-imagining of what drove his experience at Bain. And while it’s not a crime to do what Bain did, a lot of what they did was inexcusable:
Soon after Dade bought the DuPont unit, it closed a plant in Puerto Rico; all but a few of its nearly 300 workers were laid off….
Cindy Hewitt, a human resources manager, had been instructed to persuade about a dozen…workers to move to Miami, where Dade had another plant.
Not long after the workers arrived, the company said it would close that factory, too. Ms. Hewitt tried to help several workers return to Puerto Rico, but she said Dade insisted that they first repay thousands of dollars of moving costs. “They were treated horribly,” she said. “There was absolutely no concern for the employees. It was truly and completely profit-focused.” [Emphasis mine]
That, of course, was the point.
I have talked before about Mitt’s transparent inauthenticity. And now he’s trying to make himself into a job-creating savant, when he actually was a very successful wealth creator for already wealthy people.
But that’s not so great for a bumper sticker.