Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mitt's the Problem, Not the Answer

I think one of the most effective campaign themes the Obama team has come up with against Mitt Romney is the one where they say something along the lines up...

Mitt Romney is not the answer to our economic problems, he is the problem.

Romney is a living, breathing advertisement for how our system here in the U.S. is rigged to favor the extremely wealthy while the middle and lower class get squeezed tighter and tighter.

And that's why I think the Obama line of attack is dead on the money. Two primary reasons:

First, how Romney ran Bain Capital
While at Bain, a company he also owned, Romney was a key mover in the first wave of job outsourcing in the early 1990s that really depleted the U.S. of solid-paying jobs. Those same maneuvers also helped make Romney a lotta lotta money. So, he literally was making millions by outsourcing jobs at companies his firm bought. He did this by being a huge practitioner of "vulture capitalism" where his company, Bain, would get a loan to buy a functional company...pocket a nice percentage of that dough (cha-ching!)...then transfer responsibility for the debt of the loan to that company...then wring out all expenses at the purchased company (getting back to layoffs and outsourcing)...and then either the company thrived (another cha-ching) or more often it failed (but not a big deal to him because, well, see first cha-ching).

Nice for him and his buddies...not so nice for all the people he put out of work. Romney is literally running on the notion that he is a successful businessman and that because of that he is fit...and even more fit than Obama...to lead the country. It's just that his success was built on devastating the foundations of our economy.

None of this accrues to the character of a person serving as the President of the United States. Indeed, a President should be in favor of practices or programs that serve to stimulate job growth here. And that does not have to even be "protectionism" for manufacturing jobs in my opinion. Hey, outsourcing labor to cheaper international markets can work for everyone...but only if back home here there is a) innovation happening in the private sector (think back in history to things like the microchip, the Internet, computers, airplanes, automobiles, etc.) that creates jobs, and b) there's a strong educational system to create new generations of smart employees who can fill those new economy jobs.

But guess what? Corporate America has opted for the short term profit boosting by outsourcing without investing in new innovations...not really. Most companies are sitting on their profits and investing them for more profit...which rewards investors with dividends and executives with bonuses, but does not reward the vast majority of people wanting a job. And right along side that, we've not invested in education. The US is ranks pretty low compared to other major nations when it comes to education.

Anyway, all that is to say that Mitt Romney is the poster child for the exact type of capitalism that created our economic woes. Not the guy who should be the chief executive of our nation.

Second, how Romney has managed his money (as far as we can tell)
Romney has pulled all the classic tricks to shelter his money from taxation and obscure how much he really has. We're talking Swiss bank accounts, trusts set up in his wife's name and based in the Cayman Islands, packing his IRA to the tune of $100 million (by the way, how does he do that, the law limits contributions) and others.

Also, because he "makes" his current income off of investment dividends (must be nice), he only pays 15% income tax (must be really nice).

And finally, he has refused to release more than his current tax return - this, despite his own father's statement that...

"Release of the document (current year tax return), while it might serve a political purpose, would not prove very much. One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show, and what mattered in personal finance was how a man conducted himself over the long haul."
Mitt might currently be upset at Senator Harry Reid for saying that he has not paid taxes in 10 years, but...hmmm...how could Mitt prove him wrong? How could he show that he did pay taxes? Oh, right...he'd have to disclose his tax returns over the last 10 years. That info might show he paid some amount of tax, but it might also show evidence of a lot of other shenanigans not fit for someone wanting to be president.

The big points here are that absent proof to the contrary found through disclosure of his tax returns: 1) Mitt appears to be pushing the boundaries of tax law, and 2) appears to be hiding something. Neither of these are character traits we need in a president.

Here is a man who will say with a straight face that the deficit is too big and budget cuts are what are needed (no doubt social programs and not the military) to make up the shortfall...yet he, through the way he managed his own money as only a mega-rich person can, is personally depriving the government of duly owed tax revenue. Further, disclosure of 10 years worth of tax returns might show that he indeed was on the payroll and active with Bain when they did some of their works deeds to the U.S. economy (see above) - not something voters would appreciate.

I'd say that if Mitt Romney wants to be a super rich guy...so be it. Go crazy. Push and stretch the law if you think you can get away with it. Hell, our government goes out of its way to give rich guys all the breaks. BUT, if you want to do that...don't also then try and run for president and get all pissy when people start asking questions. Either do what your father did - disclose 10 years worth of returns and show what a great guy you are - or deal with the heat. Or, better yet...just don't run.

The Sum Up
Mitt Romney seems to be a morally deficient person. I'm not saying he would kill anyone or commit violent crime..or that he's even a bad husband or father. No, what I am saying is that from within his super-rich-and-aloof bubble, he demonstratebly lacks the morality and character to understand and act on behalf of the American people. Indeed, far from being the answer to our economic problems, he is the precise and spectacular example of the cause of our problems.

No comments: