Monday, January 2, 2012

Romney's World: Corporations Are Persons; People Are Expendable

The Democratic establishment, the President's advisers, and most mainstream political watchers assume that some tiny semblance of sanity will break through to a plurality of Republicans, and, no matter what happens in Iowa, they will nominate the candidate who appears to be freighted with the least baggage (and fewest personality disorders) and thus, the most formidable opponent for Barack Obama.  That would be Willard Mitt Romney.

As previously noted, Romney's tenure at his private equity firm, Bain Capital, was marked by "unintended human costs and messy financial consequences,"   which propelled companies towards bankruptcy and led to "waves of layoffs."  Actual people impacted by Romney's ruthlessness are beginning to speak out in what could prove to be a very effective campaign message.

Mitt Romney's layoff victim speaks:  "It was all about profit before people."

By Laura Clawson, cross-posted from Daily Kos

Newt Gingrich may be going negative on Mitt Romney, but here's one strategy that Newt and the rest of the Republican presidential field are unlikely to embrace: highlighting the voices of workers who lost their jobs because of Romney's work at Bain Capital.

Democrats are doing exactly that, holding an event in Iowa Sunday featuring a worker who lost his job thanks to Romney and Bain Capital:
“I really feel he didn’t care about the worker,” said the employee, Randy Johnson, who was flown in for the news conference by the Democratic National Committee. “It was all about profit before people.” [...] Mr. Johnson, now a union activist who worked at American Pad & Paper in the 1990s, described how under Bain Capital’s stewardship, the company laid off dozens of workers at the Indiana plant. Bain Capital made tens of millions of dollars from its investment in the paper manufacturer, which eventually filed for bankruptcy.
“I think he is out of touch with the average person,” Mr. Johnson said.
Greg Sargent points to the implications of Democrats opening up this critique of Romney—which, again, only Democrats are going to pursue, since other Republican candidates would see nothing wrong with laying off workers to make rich people richer:
So here’s a question. If Romney posts a strong showing in Iowa, as expected, will the increased media scrutiny on him also translate into increased scrutiny of his claims about his Bain years? The worker who spoke out yesterday was dismissed by the Romney campaign as mere evidence that Obama “and his cronies” are employing a “kill Romney” strategy because they’re afraid to face Romney in a general election, with not a word about the layoffs themselves. How long will that response wash? What’s more, Romney continues to make assertions about his Bain years that are skating by without challenge. He has now repeatedly claimed that the Bain years ended up creating over 100,000 jobs, even though independent fact checkers have concluded that this is unsubstantiated and that there’s no way of being sure his Bain years led to more jobs than layoffs.
Romney's entire claim to electability, beyond his polititican-from-central-casting looks, lies in his claims to being a job-creating businessman. But if he becomes the Republican presidential nominee, at some point he's going to have to substantiate those claims, or face the consequences of admitting by default that he can't. And meanwhile, there are real-life people like Randy Johnson out there, people whose jobs were taken by Bain Capital under Romney's leadership. They have a story to tell, and especially in this economy, it's going to be tough for Romney to brush them off as just casualties of Bain's drive for profit.


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