Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Friday, September 30, 2016

During the second presidential debate, Mitt Romney returned to one of the original themes of his campaign – namely that his financial experience at Bain Capital qualifies him to solve the problems of a nation plagued by unemployment and debt. Ridiculed and reviled in millions of dollars of advertising by his political rivals, from Newt Gingrich to Rick Perry to President Obama, Romney’s private sector career remains his central argument for electing him on November 6.

Today Peter A. Joseph, a respected and experienced figure in the private equity business as well as a civic activist, scrupulously debunks that argument on the New York Times website.

Over the past three decades, Joseph founded two private equity firms, gaining considerable insight into Romney’s success at Bain as well as the differences between political leadership and investment savvy. While not unsympathetic to the pressures Romney faced at Bain or his industriousness in overcoming them, Joseph says those financial triumphs have no special relevance to the Oval Office.

The role of the private-equity financier, he notes, has very little to do with being a “job creator”:

 A businessman seeking to optimize profitability will look to lower labor costs by reducing headcount, whether through technology, outsourcing, or rationalization. This is right out of the basic playbook. It is not the mission of the financier to create jobs. In fact, his mission is often to do just the opposite.

Joseph gently tweaks Romney for indulging in harsh anti-government rhetoric when so much of his and Bain’s wealth derive from investing the pensions of teachers, cops, firefighters and other public-sector employees. (He might also have noted Romney’s venomous hatred of the very unions whose contractual power enabled him to get his hands on their accumulated assets.) He also suggests that Bain and other private-equity outfits have ripped off their clients, including the workers, through inflated fees:

 Romney constantly derides big government, but government is made up of individuals, whose pension funds helped make him and Bain unimaginably rich. There is no doubt that these pension funds sought the higher returns offered by private-equity investing. But as the private equity business grew, the public pension funds and other capital providers have gotten the short end of the stick. They have not completely shared in the value of the franchise that is created in part by their investment in the industry. It seems odd to hear Romney criticize big government without any acknowledgment that he has made much of his fortune managing the retirement funds of many public employees.

Joseph concludes by contrasting the qualifications of a private-equity financier with what is required from a president of the United States, which don’t have much in common:

 Romney’s financial success is admirable and enviable, but it came by following the mantra of increasing cash flow, cutting jobs and minimizing taxable income. Though the Obama campaign has tried to exploit this with millions of dollars in anti-Bain ads, the real issue is how Romney’s experience relates to a president’s need to balance budgetary responsibility with the heavy lifting required to address our collective concerns, our common obligations. We have heard a lot about pragmatism and practicality, but I can assure you that compassion and broader social concerns rarely make it into an investment memo. If Romney really wants to push his Bain experience, Americans will have to decide whether the answers to the problems facing them are best provided by a financier president.

  • bcarreiro

    Its like this, it takes one man to screw in a lightbulb and 99 to take it out. What would mitt do if he lost all his money to a foreign manipulator? Well thats what he is going to find out……to be continued.

    • Mitt:”My first act will be to defund Planned Parenthood.”
      King of Abortion–PP prevents more than any unit in America
      Mitt:”My first act will be to repeal Obamacare.”
      Dictator Mitt–He cannot repeal a law

      • latebloomingrandma

        I wondered about that pledge. However, if he has a Republican house, they can defund it, effectively killing it.

  • nobsartist

    republiCONs –
    sold weapons to Iran
    sold weapons to Iraq
    sold nukes to israel
    gave the chinese a top secret spy plane
    lied us into 2 wars
    trampled the Constitution
    trampled the Geneva Convention
    made it legal to spy on Americans with no warrant
    created 9/11
    collapsed the economy
    and now, want to elect a president in business with the red chinese army

    • You may want to add:
      Watergate
      Trained and armed the Mujahedeen, including OBL, when they were fighting the Soviets.
      Iran-Contra
      Provided WMDs and intelligence to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war.
      Withdrew from Lebanon after almost 250 U.S. Marines were slaughtered.
      The Koch brothers circumvented international sanctions and dealt with the Ayatollahs.
      Replaced Sunnis with Iraqi Shiite aligned spiritually to Iran.
      Declared Saudi Arabia a MFN after Saudi terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers.
      Allowed OBL to live in comfort in Pakistan.
      Allowed AQ and Taliban terrorist to escape and regroup in Pakistan.
      Ignored the slaughter in Tibet and attended the Beijing Olympics begging for alms.
      And now Mitt Romney promised VMI cadets he will provided training and weapons to rebel groups in Syria so that they can defend themselves against helicopter and jet fighter attacks knowing some of those groups have been infiltrated and are led by Al Qaeda terrorists. Considering what Reagan did in Afghanistan I am not surprised by Romney’s decision to give Stinger missiles to Al Qaeda…

      • nobsartist

        i dont have to, you did but I would like to add that they killed the kennedy’s, king, hendrix, morrison, joplin and malcolm x.

      • Sandra

        (Bush) gave/sold nuclear weapons to Pakistan. A very important point because of the future and potential danger to not only America but other countries in the future.

  • How about this? As it looks like the Japanese are about to hold more of our debt than any other country, when will Willard denounce Tokyo as “currency manipulators”? What I found truly ironic about his charge against Bejing is all the jobs he shipped to China as a result of his work at Bain.

  • What we need is a man with a vision focused on economic growth and job creation, not a man whose record and focus have been limited to accumulation of wealth, often at the expense of workers and the well being of the American people.
    Making money by closing plants, laying off workers, cutting benefits, outsourcing and hiding profits in tax shelters overseas is not something we should endorse or support. We need a leader with a proven record of commitment to the middle class, honest, hard working, and devoted to the security and well being of the American people. That leader is Barack Obama.

    • Sandra

      ” A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” Henry Ford.
      That insight is relevant to Romney’s business practices which was to make money no matter the cost. American workers suffered the consequences of Romney and his partners’ quest for greed by investing in troubled companies, loading them up with debt then ‘harvesting’ (Romney’s word) for their profit while hard working Amerians not only lost their jobs, but in some cases, their pensions which the American taxpayers had to reimburse. Romney is not a business man in the true sense of the word, he knows nothing about creating or producing anything but wealth at the expense of American workers. He’s has accomplished nothing that any sane person would call admirable or respectful.

  • wesley rasmussen

    Funny how no one is making a big issue of revitalizing our manufacturing base – the very industry group that Bain outsourced. We are fast becoming a service industrial nation, with the amount of hotels, restaurants, travel, and valet style jobs being offered around the country. The only problem with that is there will be a point, fast approaching if not already here, where we have to actually MAKE something for the people to buy, and to buy it, we have to have meaningful creative JOBS for them to earn the money to buy these things.

    The GOTP obstructionists are out to make sure that this does not happen all the way to our grandchildren’s lifetimes. Does anyone really want it to continue, or are there posters who want to stop this trend?

    • latebloomingrandma

      For all of Romney’s rhetoric, and his 5 point plan, he has said NOTHING as to how he puts demand back into the economy. Tax cuts don’t do this. We have to make things again. The first step, in my opinion, is to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. That puts people to work and starts the engine turning in the right direction.

  • When Carter was President the Washington Post made fun of him for teaching Sunday School at
    the First Baptist Church in DC. Jerry Falwell said: We do not need a Sunday School teacher in the White House. So, now I say we do not need a Morman bishop/pastor in the White House.

    • Ed

      No one seemed to realise how amazing that comment from Falwell was.

      • Sandra

        Wonder how Falwell is enjoying his perch in hell, is it too hot for him do you think, or does the heat need to be turned up? That man was the epitome of what’s wrong with evangelcal/fundamental pseudo christians. Paraphrase here ‘woe to those who take my name in vain.’ Jesus Christ

  • nobsartist

    republiCONs –
    sold weapons to Iran
    sold weapons to Iraq
    sold nukes to israel
    gave the chinese a top secret spy plane
    lied us into 2 wars
    trampled the Constitution
    trampled the Geneva Convention
    made it legal to spy on Americans with no warrant
    created 9/11
    collapsed the economy
    and now, want to elect a president in business with the red chinese army

  • nobsartist

    what we need is a president that is already in business with the RED CHINESE ARMY like willard the rat is.

  • Bob Williams

    Apparently all we need is a Moron-In-Chief. Someone who never had a real job. What could be better than having your first job be as President of the United States.

    Experience? Obama don’t need no steenkin’ Experience! All he has to remember is “Don’t blame me – it’s Bush’s fault!”

  • Contrary to Mr. Romney’s comments in his CBS “60 Minutes” interview with Scott Pelley, the 15% capital gains tax rate does NOT, REPEAT NOT, promote/encourage/foster economic growth. Rather, it promotes/encourages/fosters growth in investors’ personal wealth.

  • alumahead

    OMitt the Mitt 2012.

  • God help us all if he gets elected. The rich will get richer, the middle class will suffer and decline, and our National Parks will be ravaged by corporate greed leaving pollution and destruction behind. And we, the working class, will be left with the clean up…..as usual.

  • DurdyDawg

    Like I said before.. America is NOT a corporation!! B’nessmen run corporations, they do not know anything about leading people or sharing wealth. People, to corporate whores, are merely there to create wealth for the CEO’s and their investors. We will be nothing more than serfs if Roburmoney slithers in.

  • William Deutschlander

    In the United States of America we govern with MAJORITY RULE, we collectively bargain and negotiate for the well being of the people who are the majority.

    With three branches of government WE NEED A LEADER, our government does not need nor could it survive with a CEO or a CFO.

    It would be admirable if the R’s in the Senate and House were able to understand the first sentence above!

    • highpckts

      Actually we don’t! With the electoral college the candidate elected may not be the one that got most of the votes!!

  • Check out Freeport, IL………..Bain just closed the Sensata plant there and left the workers without jobs. Romney only knows how to out source jobs….not create them. Ask yourself…..why would Americans want a President that puts our jobs and his money overseas? Anyone running for President should not expect Americans to pay him wages so he can take our jobs and money only to thumb his nose at, not just the 47%, but all Americans!

    • This is soooo important…go to bainport dot com…last year during a recovery Sensata workers made record profits for the company but Mitt owns %51 of the stock so the workers are now training their chinese replacements in order to get thier severance pay. Then it’s off to china with another successful US company and more US developed technology. This is the guy getting “TOUGH” on china and “CARING” for American workers. EVERYONE SHOULD POST THIS ON EVERY SOCIAL PAGE THEY HAVE ACCESS TO. Also it is available to send some pizza love to the protesters who are standing outside the factory right now.

  • Amen! Finally someone has the guts to tell it as it is.

  • The president has to think of the collective. Building the nation. grow jobs, strenghen the nation while always being thoughtful and compassionate. Romney offers none of this.

  • I live in Arkansas, which is a “red” state. I am constantly bombarded by Obama bashers that think Fox news is the Bible. Most of these fools still trot out “he’s a Muslim.” The economy here is picking up and things are looking good. I can see the stimulus money at work. My son is a supervisor for a construction company and many of his jobs on infrastructure is stimulus funded, and insists on all materials is made in America. I wish more people realized just how much our President has done to pull this country out of economic ruin. The thought of Mitt Romney winning this election terrifies me.