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Friday, January 13, 2012

Mitt Romney's Version Of Capitalism

Jan 13th, 2012
by F. Grey Parker

The GOP 's internal war over Mitt Romney's years at Bain Capital has gotten very interesting during the last few weeks. It is not merely because of the vendetta against the frontrunner being waged by, as David Corn put it, "Newt The Destroyer." The discussion has now gone much deeper than whether or not Romney ran the company properly. For the first time in recent memory, an intra-Republican Party debate has broken out over the moral responsibilities of the management and ownership class within the capitalist system.

The Newt Gingrich-allied SuperPAC, Winning The Future, is basically using the common sense language at the core of both the Occupy Movement and their Tea Party opposites to attack the Romney mythology of what constitutes good business.

The complete video is available HERE

The Romney response reveals just how scared his team is. Via Raw Story:

"It's puzzling to see Speaker Gingrich and his supporters continue their attacks on free enterprise," the Romney campaign said of the Gingrich PAC’s new film. "This is the type of criticism we've come to expect from President Obama and his left-wing allies at Unlike President Obama and Speaker Gingrich, Mitt Romney spent his career in business and knows what it will take to turn around our nation’s bad economy." EMPHASIS OURS

Presenting himself as a successful businessman is the core of the Romney campaign. Frankly, it's been the centerpiece of every campaign he has ever run. It seems not to have occurred to him that, following the 2008 meltdown, his actual record in the private sector might receive more scrutiny than it had in the past. He also appears unable to grasp that the tactics he employed at Bain are viewed with increasing anger by the electorate. His "career in business" was successful precisely because of a philosophy known as "creative destruction taken to an extreme and held above all other principles.

The GOP establishment is not pleased. The frustrations most Americans have been expressing since the 2008 crisis are being addressed now in ways that are very inconvenient for them.

For the last three years, the official GOP line has been to blame anyone but the wealthiest manipulators of our economy for the Great Recession and continuing high unemployment. Their mission has been to insulate those responsible. Glib accusations of "class warfare" have been leveled at every player who has attempted to address the very real issues of growing inequality in America. To some degree, they have been successful. One of the reasons for this is that the complexity of the fraud on Wall Street and in the banking industry is difficult for the layperson to absorb.

Understanding what Bain did, on the other hand, is very easy to explain. So easy, in fact, that even Rick Perry can do it:

"...the idea that you get private equity companies to come in and, you know, take companies apart so they can make quick profits and then people lose their jobs, I don't think that's what America's looking for."

The water-carriers for crony-Capitalism and their backers are beginning to panic.

Chris Moody writes:

"Free-market groups, including the Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity, have called on Gingrich to soften his rhetoric. South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, fellow presidential candidate Rick Santorum, and former RNC Chairman Michael Steele have also rebuked the candidate's anti-equity fund strategy. "What the hell are you doing, Newt?" Rudy Giuliani asked Thursday during an apperance on Fox News.

In response to a Politico report Wednesday that Gingrich was backing away from the Bain attacks during a conversation with a supporter in Spartanburg, Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond called the characterization "misleading."

"This issue at hand is neither about Bain Capital, private equity firms, nor about capitalism," Hammond said in a statement. "It is about Mitt Romney's judgment and character. It was Governor Romney's decision to base his candidacy, in large part, on his background as a portfolio manager."

Newt has been extremely careful in his personal statements to frame Bain Capital as something other than healthy capitalism:

"When you have a circumstance where they made a lot of money and the company went broke, it's legitimate to ask the question—and this is the whole Wall Street problem—how come the big boys made a lot of money and they went broke? That's not an attack on capitalism. That's not an issue about the whole capitalist system. That is a question about a very particular style of activity involving a very particular person. Remember, we're not talking about the system. We're talking about somebody who is running for President of the United States, and we're asking the question about his judgment, his values, the choices he made."

Whether or not Newt believes in everything he is saying, which I doubt, or he is simply savvy enough to know how to exploit popular anger, this is dynamite stuff. 

Romney has also made the situation much worse for himself. During the Jan 7th debate in New Hampshire, he declared that his management of Bain had created "100,000 jobs."

Steve Benen tore the claim apart shortly afterward:

"This is largely the basis for Romney's entire presidential campaign, so it's important to understand the extent to which he’s trying to deceive the public."

"Offering a detailed response is, as a practical matter, impossible — neither Romney nor his firm has provided enough information to do that kind of analysis. If it were true, presumably Romney and/or Bain would want to help prove the candidate right, and release the data to bolster the boast, but so far, the evidence is nonexistent. We’re apparently supposed to take Romney and his campaign’s word for it.

But that’s also impossible because Romney and the Romney campaign are now contradicting each other. Last week, the Republican’s chief spokesperson said the "over 100,000" figure is based on some companies that created jobs after Romney left Bain, but it simply excludes all job losses from the equation. As of last night, Romney is arguing that his own campaign is wrong, and the figure is a net figure.

Which side should we believe, Romney or the Romney campaign? I don’t know, but one of them isn’t telling us the truth."

It is no surprise that Benen took this one on. But, again, it is prominent GOP figures who are applying the real pressure. 

Alex Seitz-Wald writes:

"Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), who has positioned herself as a voice for the populist wing of the GOP, defended some conservatives' attacks on Mitt Romney and called on the presidential candidate to provide proof that his former company, Bain Capital, created 100,000 jobs as Romney dubiously claims. Palin told Fox News host Sean Hannity last night that attacks on Romney's time at Bain from rivals like Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich are entirely fair, because the front-runner must be "held accountable."

Faiz Shakir shines some light on the GOP plan to alter their messaging in an attempt to protect the status quo:

"Last year, Mitt Romney told a Tea Party gathering, "I believe in free enterprise, I believe in capitalism." Now, Romney's practice of "vulture capitalism," in Rick Perry's words, is coming under attack. As Rush Limbaugh observed recently, "Here we have capitalism being attacked by Republicans, capitalism under assault by Republicans." In the face of this assault, one of the GOP’s chief strategists is advising Republicans to stop defending capitalism.

Recall, just over a month ago, GOP pollster Frank Luntz offered strategic advice to Republican governors, in which he expressed concerns about the increasing strength of the 99 Percent movement, the Occupy protests, and the waning support for "capitalism." Luntz told the group that the public thinks "capitalism is immoral. And if we’re seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we've got a problem."

Now, as Romney faces heat from within his own party, Luntz is worried about a "nightmare" scenario where conservatives will go "down the tubes" if they are forced to defend "crony capitalism." Last night on Fox News, Luntz said the solution is not for conservatives to support a fairer tax system or rid corporate loopholes; rather, just change the language they use."

This is a huge tell; the Republicans are not just terrified because of the damage to their establishment favorite but, also, because they want to ensure that businesses like Bain Capital remain unchanged. They are on a mission to protect and preserve the most despicable tactics available to the investor class. They are, to put it bluntly, opposed to the very concept that moral considerations should be a factor in finance.

The American people, on the other hand, are not.

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