When Republicans Thought Bain Capital Was Fair Game
Just as it did earlier this year during the Republican primary, Mitt Romney’s record of amassing a quarter-billion dollar fortune by bankrupting companies, shipping jobs overseas, and laying off thousands of American workers is dominating the headlines.
The Romney campaign is claiming that the attacks amount to unfair “character assassination” (even as one of Romney’s top surrogates today declared discussion of Romney’s experience at Bain “fair game”). President Obama himself addressed the issue yesterday:
And the reason this is relevant to the campaign is because my opponent, Governor Romney, his main calling card for why he thinks he should be President is his business expertise. He is not going out there touting his experience in Massachusetts. He is saying, I’m a business guy and I know how to fix it, and this is his business.
And when you’re President, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot. Your job is to think about those workers who got laid off and how are we paying for their retraining. Your job is to think about how those communities can start creating new clusters so that they can attract new businesses. Your job as President is to think about how do we set up a equitable tax system so that everybody is paying their fair share that allows us then to invest in science and technology and infrastructure, all of which are going to help us grow.
And so, if your main argument for how to grow the economy is I knew how to make a lot of money for investors, then you’re missing what this job is about. It doesn’t mean you weren’t good at private equity, but that’s not what my job is as President. My job is to take into account everybody, not just some. My job is to make sure that the country is growing not just now, but 10 years from now and 20 years from now.
Just a few short months ago, Romney’s Republican rivals for the GOP nomination thought Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital was very relevant. As ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum notes, the Republican attacks “make Obama’s remarks sound tame by comparison.” He rounded up the top 10 GOP attacks on Bain. Here they are:
1. “The idea that you’ve got private equity companies that come in and take companies apart so they can make profits and have people lose their jobs, that’s not what the Republican Party’s about.” — Rick Perry [New York Times, 1/12/12]
2. “The Bain model is to go in at a very low price, borrow an immense amount of money, pay Bain an immense amount of money and leave. I’ll let you decide if that’s really good capitalism. I think that’s exploitation.” — Newt Gingrich [New York Times, 1/17/12]
3. “Instead of trying to work with them to try to find a way to keep the jobs and to get them back on their feet, it’s all about how much money can we make, how quick can we make it, and then get out of town and find the next carcass to feed upon” — Rick Perry [National Journal, 1/10/12]
4. “We find it pretty hard to justify rich people figuring out clever legal ways to loot a company, leaving behind 1,700 families without a job.” — Newt Gingrich [Globe and Mail, 1/9/12]
5. “Now, I have no doubt Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips — whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out because his company, Bain Capital, of all the jobs that they killed” — Rick Perry [New York Times, 1/9/12]
6) “He claims he created 100,000 jobs. The Washington Post, two days ago, reported in their fact check column that he gets three Pinocchios. Now, a Pinocchio is what you get from The Post if you’re not telling the truth.” — Newt Gingrich [1/13/12, NBC News]
7. “There is something inherently wrong when getting rich off failure and sticking it to someone else is how you do your business, and I happen to think that’s indefensible” — Rick Perry [National Journal, 1/10/12]
8. “If Governor Romney would like to give back all the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years, then I would be glad to then listen to him” — Newt Gingrich [Mediaite, 12/14/11]
9. “If you’re a victim of Bain Capital’s downsizing, it’s the ultimate insult for Mitt Romney to come to South Carolina and tell you he feels your pain, because he caused it.” — Rick Perry [New York Times, 1/8/12]
10. “They’re vultures that sitting out there on the tree limb waiting for the company to get sick and then they swoop in, they eat the carcass. They leave with that and they leave the skeleton” — Rick Perry [National Journal, 1/10/12]
Tomorrow, we’ll run through how Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital fits in to the debate about building an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few or doubling down on an economy that’s rigged to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.
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The Republican Credo.
Alan Grayson was back on MSNBC on Monday night, telling it like it is. The subject was Senator Rubio’s attack on President Obama. Rubio said that we “have not seen such a divisive figure in modern American history,” and Rubio criticized the President for graduating from Harvard Law School. Rubio hit President Obama, and Alan hit back. Here is what Alan said:
SHARPTON: Congressman, let`s start with you. Senator Rubio thinks the President is divisive. What do you make of that?
GRAYSON: Well, remember how President Obama first came to the public`s attention seven-and-a-half years ago. He gave a beautiful speech in which he called for one America. Not a blue America or red America, but one America. And that speech enabled him to win the Democratic nomination – because that was an idea that appealed to Americans across the board – and then to win the presidency. But what he has been faced with from the Republicans is implacable division. Division just for the sake of division. Disagreeing just for the sake of disagreeing. Look what happened with the healthcare bill: more than 150 Republican amendments included in that bill, and no Republicans voted for it.
GRAYSON: Look at the “grand bargain” on the deficit that the President proposed, to end the deficit. The Republicans wouldn’t even show up and negotiate for it. But they`re not just guilty of division, they`re also guilty of subtraction. The Republicans have subtracted jobs. They`ve subtracted health care. They`ve subtracted from public education. And they want to subtract Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, student loans and unemployment insurance.
SHARPTON: Now, it`s interesting you say that, Congressman, because the fact of the matter is when you deal with this question of divisiveness and partisan politics, the President has been criticized by members of his own party, some of us that are progressive, for leaning over too much. And now to call him divisive; it almost is laughable, in some circles.
GRAYSON: Right. I think that soon they’ll wheel out Roger Clemens and he`ll say that the President is guilty of using steroids. That makes as much sense as what Marco Rubio said. . . .
SHARPTON: Now, Congressman, let me go back to you. It`s a lot of ugliness and di-viss-iveness, or de-vice-iveness, as Joe said, whichever [way] you want to pronounce it. Governor Chris Christie attacked the President this weekend while he was addressing Kentucky Republicans. [Christie] said, and I`m quoting him, “President Obama has cared more about posing and preening than progress.” And then Congressman Joe Walsh‘s town hall this weekend, a constituent at Walsh`s town hall attacked the President, and Congressman Walsh listened and said nothing. Let me show it to you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: He should have said it before he was elected and said, “I`m a socialist, I believe in socialism, communism, nazi,” whatever, and say “this is where I want to lead the country,” not do it underhandedly.
REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: However you want to label and define it, don`t you think now after three-and-a-half years as a country, now we have a really good idea where the President wants to go.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Well, absolutely because he feels he has everyone by the cojones, now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, real ugly kind of crazy, shrill language, but it`s being entertained, and in some cases being recycled, by some of the leaders in the Republican Party in some cases.
GRAYSON: You`re going to see nothing but personal attacks against President Obama for the next six months, because we`ve seen nothing but personal attacks against him for the past four years. You know, [like] this whole question of his birth certificate. When has a white president ever been asked to produce a birth certificate? It`s all nothing but personal attacks, because they have no answers for anything. All they can do is make ad hominem [personal] arguments. There`s a Harvard phrase for you: ad hominem arguments. They`ve got no health policy worth discussing. Their health policy is basically, “Don`t get sick.” They`ve got no educational policy worth discussing. And their economic policy is “reverse Robin Hood.” They`re stealing from the poor, and giving to the rich.
SHARPTON: Florida Congressman Alan Grayson, I have to go. Joe Madison, always good to have you on. Thank you both for your time.