Romney Exposed


If Romney Wins, Workers Lose


The last thing this country needs is a president who spent his business career systematically impoverishing American workers.

That’s exactly what Mitt Romney did as co-founder of Bain Capital, a private equity firm. Bain bled companies dry.

Romney devised methods of pulling cash out of companies that Bain either bought or invested in, usually to the detriment of the workforce. He slashed costs, fired workers, shipped jobs overseas and halted investment and modernization. It didn’t matter to him if a company failed because Romney won either way.

As a politician, Romney has been inconsistent on every issue but one: cheap labor. And that’s a big reason he attracts the backing of David Koch and 33 billionaires from the Forbes billionaire list. His policies would expand the reservoir of cheap labor available to billionaires.

America needs a vibrant middle class for our economy to work. America does not need a cheap-labor conservative in the White House—one who doesn’t understand that prosperity depends on many people making things and many people buying them. 

If Mitt Romney wins, American workers lose.

Private Equity

Romney’s career as a vampire capitalist left a trail of empty factories and bankrupt enterprises. One in five of Bain’s investments under Romney went bankrupt or liquidated within nine years.

Between 1987 and 1995, Bain made $587 million from five businesses and all five eventually went bankrupt.

In 1992, Bain bought a hanging file folder company in Indiana called SCM. On July 5, 1994, security guards surrounded the building and told all 258 union workers they were fired. They were told they could reapply for their jobs at lower wages. Some did. Eventually the workers went on strike, and Bain closed the plant. It’s against the law, but Bain got away with it.

In 1993, Bain purchased a Kansas City steel mill, GS Industries, and drove it into bankruptcy. Bain partners did just fine, making $50 million. But more than 700 workers lost their jobs, their health insurance, their severance pay and some of their pension benefits. Then taxpayers picked up the tab for the company’s underfunded pension plan.

In 1994, Bain led a group of investors to buy Dade International, a medical technology firm in Miami. They fired close to 2,000 workers and loaded the company with debt—while taking hefty management fees, of course. Dade went bankrupt within eight years.

Romney: Outsourcing Pioneer

While at Bain, Romney was as happy to plunder the taxpayer as he was to loot the companies he bought. He relentlessly sniffed out tax breaks, subsidies and bailouts even as he stashed his money in a Swiss bank account. Meanwhile, Bain set up 138 offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands.

Romney’s indifference to the American worker was also evident in his willingness to buy companies that sent jobs overseas.

The Washington Post reported that in 1993 Bain bought a portion of Corporate Software Inc., which outsourced customer support services for high-tech companies like Microsoft. A few years later, the company began setting up call centers overseas. It merged with another company and continued to offshore call centers. By 1998, the company spun off Modus Media, with Bain as its biggest shareholder.

Romney’s campaign tried to suppress the Washington Post story that described Modus Media as specializing in helping companies send manufacturing jobs overseas. According to the Post, it produced software and training products in Australia for Microsoft. It also did packaging and assembly overseas for companies such as IBM, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Computer Corp.

Companies like Modus Media are the reason manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry was actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.

Etch A Sketch

Romney the presidential candidate sounds much different than Romney the vampire capitalist. At a metalworking factory in Cincinnati in June, he told the crowd, “For me it’s all about good jobs for the American people and a bright and prosperous future.”

That was not Mitt Romney’s first flip-flop and it was far from the last. Romney changes positions the way a traffic light changes color. His lack of principles, along with his passion for cheap labor, may be the only things that stayed constant about him.

Romney launched his political career in 1994. Though it was unclear that he was a resident of Massachusetts, he challenged U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy for re-election. He lost, but not before taking positions at odds with his current self-identification as a conservative.

To win votes in deep-blue Massachusetts, he portrayed himself as a social moderate on issues such as health care, reproductive rights and immigration. Back then, he said, “I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years we should sustain and support it.”

He’s changed his tune since then. “Roe v. Wade has gone too far,” he said during his campaign for president in 2007.

Romney told the Log Cabin Republicans that he'd be better than Ted Kennedy on gay rights. In 2002, he passed out a flyer in Boston’s gay community saying “Mitt and Kerry wish you a great Pride Weekend! All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference.” (Kerry is Kerry Healey, his lieutenant governor.)

Six years later, Romney donated $10,000 to the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage.

Candidate Romney said in 1994, “I don’t line up with the NRA.” Today, he’s a lifetime member of the NRA. In 2007 he said he supported the assault weapons ban. Months later, he said he didn’t support any gun control legislation. He even told a gun story that changed within a week. On January 10, 2007, he claimed to own a gun. Four days later, he said he didn’t.

Romney’s memory is equally tricky when it comes to his military service—or lack thereof. In 1994, he told the Boston Herald, “It was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam.” Fourteen years later, during a presidential debate, he remembered differently. “I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there,” he said.

The list goes on and on. In 1996, Romney called the flat tax a “tax cut for fat cats.” In 2011, Romney said “I love a flat tax.” During a debate in 2008, he said, “I like mandates. The mandates work.” Two years later he told the Manchester Union Leader, “I think it’s unconstitutional on the 10th Amendment front.” He’s done a complete 180 on a capital gains tax cut. “I believe the tax on capital gains should be zero” became “It’s a tax cut for fat cats.”

Romney’s spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, recently shrugged off his boss’s chameleon-like personality. “Everything changes,” Fehrnstrom told CNN. “It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”

Governor of Massachusetts

One thing Romney can’t shake up is his record as governor of Massachusetts. As the state’s chief executive from 2002-06, he systematically tried to lower working families’ standard of living. The results in Massachusetts were the same as they were for the companies that Bain exploited: less prosperity for broad groups of workers.

Massachusetts ranked 47th among the 50 states in job creation during Romney’s tenure in office. Though the national rate of job growth was over 5 percent, Massachusetts lagged far behind at 0.9 percent. A Northeastern University economist found that Massachusetts was behind on every economic indicator while Romney was in office.

He raised taxes, vetoed an increase in the minimum wage and presided over anemic job creation. He tried to weaken workers’ rights. He vetoed a card check bill as well as a measure that would have prevented state vendors from sending work overseas. He tried to prevent union members from becoming managers in state government and to exempt public construction projects from the prevailing wage law.

His first budget as governor included $240 million in fee increases. He raised the cost of ice skating, registering a boat, taking the bar exam, hauling hazardous waste and many other activities.

Billionaire Buddies

Romney panders to super-rich donors who want to impoverish and exploit America’s middle class.

He embraces the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates of corporate cash into the political system. In one of his most repeated comments, he told a voter, “Corporations are people, my friend.”

Billionaire David Koch hosted one of Mitt Romney's first fundraisers for his 2012 campaign and recently held another at $50,000 a head. One protester’s sign read, “I don’t mind you being rich, I mind you buying the government.”

Dozens of billionaires are backing Romney’s bid for the presidency. They pledged to contribute $1 billion to put him in the White House. They may come up with even more, due to the largesse of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and the Koch brothers. The Kochs, in fact, pledged to spend $400 million on this election cycle, more than John McCain spent in his entire presidential campaign.  

The billionaires expect a big payback on their investment. If Romney does as promised he’ll gut environmental regulations, repeal the Dodd-Frank financial reforms and slash corporate tax rates. He would divert untold billions from the U.S. Treasury into the wallets of the 1 percent. The Wal-Mart heirs alone would save $32.7 billion if a President Romney eliminates the estate tax, as he has promised.  

Workers would not receive the kind of loving treatment that Romney plans to lavish on his rich buddies. He supports right-to-work-for-less and opposes the Employee Free Choice Act. He wants to weaken unions by making automatic paycheck deductions of dues illegal. And he strongly supports privatization of government functions.

As a businessman and as a politician, Mitt Romney has ruthlessly exploited working Americans for his own enrichment. His legacy is one of prosperity for himself and hardship for workers. As president, no one should expect any different.