Poor Mitt Romney.
Well, not that poor.
The wealthiest man ever to secure a major party nomination for the presidency is crying foul because President Obama’s campaign has dared to explain how Romney made his money.
Romney was a robber baron. And he continues to profit—to the tune of $230 million and counting—from the “vulture capitalism” his Republican primary opponents decried.
He helped to create Bain Capital, a private equity firm that makes its money by buying functional US manufacturing and service firms and rendering them dysfunctional. Bain guts American companies, ripping out whatever parts are profitable and then tossing the workers aside.
Bain forces cuts in wages, benefits and pensions. It outsources work. And it offshores production—harming American workers and communities and undermining American industries.
No amount of wordplay by Romney and his campaign team is going to change those facts.
Yet, bizarrely, Romney and his media and political minions continue to claim that Obama is being unfair to the presumptive Republican nominee by noting that Romney continued to be intimately involved with Bain as the company began to focus more and more of its energies on the shuttering of US factories and the transfer of the work done in those factories to foreign countries.
Romney does not like that he is being portrayed as a vulture capitalist who cares more about his own bottom line than the economic viability of his own country.
This is understandable, as the image is not one that presidential contenders generally assume.
But, unfortunately for Romney, the bane of his existence is and will continue to be Bain.
The debate about when Romney relinquished day-to-day control of the firm—in 1999, as he likes to say, or considerably later, as the paper trail suggests—is irrelevant. Through arrangements that he made, Romney remains one of the prime beneficiaries of every move that Bain makes.
As an exhaustive New York Times report noted last fall, “Mr. Romney never really left Bain.”
“In what would be the final deal of his private equity career, he negotiated a retirement agreement with his former partners that has paid him a share of Bain’s profits ever since, bringing the Romney family millions of dollars in income each year and bolstering the fortune that has helped finance Mr. Romney’s political aspirations,” explained the Times analysis of Romney’s personal finances. “The arrangement allowed Mr. Romney to pursue his career in public life while enjoying much of the financial upside of being a Bain partner as the company grew into a global investing behemoth.”
Romney’s continued involvement with Bain is not some distant financial arrangement, or some casual connection like Americans might have to corporations via stocks included in their 401K plans
Though Mr. Romney left Bain in early 1999, he remains a direct beneficiary of Bain’s buccaneer pillaging of the US economy.
• Romney continued to collect a share of the corporate buyout and investment profits enjoyed by partners from all Bain deals until 2009.
• Romney, because of his ongoing arrangement with Bain, Romney has collected profits from twenty-two Bain and Bain-related funds. That, as the Times notes, is “more than twice as many over all as Mr. Romney had a share of the year he left.”
• Romney’s arrangement with Bain allows him to invest his own money in projects pursued by his former partners. As such, Romney is involved in deals from which he continues to share in a portion of Bain’s profits—just as he must share in a portion of responsibility for what the firm does to harm American workers.
Indeed, as the Times assessment noted late last year, well after he launched his current presidential campaign, Romney was still profiting from “Bain deals that resulted in upheaval for companies, workers and communities.”