Expedition Party Old Sea Galleon wallpaper – Romney, Conservatism and Vulture Capitalism

Expedition Party Old Sea Galleon wallpaper

 

Irony has laid dead and rotting in Wingnuttia for some years now. So it is doubtful conservatives will appreciate the humor. Fact checkers at the WaPO took a look at that video put out by the conservative pro-Newt Gingrich PAC Winning Our Future. They found the video riddled with distortions and falsehoods. Four Pinocchios for ‘King of Bain’.

The video ends with a crescendo of images of despair, with voices of the victims adding emotional punch: “A lot of lives were ruined .?.?. he took away our livelihoods .?.?. he took away our future .?.?. he destroyed a lot of homes .?.?. it all gets back to greed.” (Irritatingly, few of these ordinary citizens are identified.)

WaPo goes way out of its way to point out – for their own perplexing reasons – that private equity companies frequently bought companies and turned them around, thus acting like good little angels, making them profitable. That happened sometimes, sometimes not. Whatever the video says, distorts or just plain makes up remember one thing. It was made by a conservative PAC. WaPo say the King of Bain is like the Swiftboat attacks on Sen. John Kerry. There was no truth to the attacks on Kerry.  There are true stories about Romney’s vulture capitalism, “Winning Our Future” was too lazy or typical of conservative, too mindlessly vicious to bother with fact checking. This is a solid article from The Prospect that gives some background about private equity firms and corporate takeovers (another thing WaPo did was claim that Romney and friends and pioneered venture capitalism. Their own fact checkers missed an eye-popping misstatement of western financial history). Private equity is a blood sport – Mitt Romney’s rise has turned some Republicans from cheerleaders of private equity into its biggest critics.

The phrase “private equity” conjures up images of venture capitalists pooling their funds and backing promising new ventures or contributing new equity and new management to companies in need of restructuring. But that is not how the game really works most of the time. Typically, private-equity companies borrow a ton of money, sometimes in collusion with incumbent management and sometimes in opposition to it, and take a company private. That is, the company’s shares are no longer publicly traded.

This maneuver has several advantages to the new owners. First, despite the picture of investors putting in equity, most of the money is usually borrowed. That produces a huge tax break, since the interest is tax-deductible. Second, the new owners can pay themselves large management fees as well as “special dividends.” Typically, they take out far more than they put in, by incurring debts carried on the books of the operating company.

For instance, when Bain masterminded a private-equity deal for HCA, one of America’s largest for-profit hospital chains (which has gone from private to public twice and which paid a multibillion-dollar fine for defrauding Medicare), Bain paid itself a management fee of $58 million, even though it had only put up 6.3 percent of the buyout fund.

When Romney says he is a capitalist, a pro business politician who can create jobs, the above is what he actually stands for. Just because it is legal does not mean it is right or moral. If you add up all the venture Romney and team touched, what was the net number of jobs created. The NYP has never been a friend to Democrats and they pulled out these statistics on the Romney business record – see no lying required, Romney’s past is more a working class zero

Romney in 2007 told the New York Times he had nothing to do with taking dividends from two companies that later went bankrupt, and that one should not take a distribution from a business that put the company at risk.

Yet Geoffrey Rehnert, who helped start Bain Capital and is now co-CEO of the private equity firm The Audax Group, told me for my Penguin book, “The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Is Destroying Jobs and Killing the American Economy,” that Romney owned a controlling stake in Bain Capital between approximately 1992 and 2001. The firm under his watch took such risks, time and time again.

[  ]…* Bain in 1988 put $5 million down to buy Stage Stores, and in the mid-’90s took it public, collecting $100 million from stock offerings. Stage filed for bankruptcy in 2000.

* Bain in 1992 bought American Pad & Paper (AMPAD), investing $5 million, and collected $100 million from dividends. The business filed for bankruptcy in 2000.

* Bain in 1993 invested $60 million when buying GS Industries, and received $65 million from dividends. GS filed for bankruptcy in 2001.

* Bain in 1997 invested $46 million when buying Details, and made $93 million from stock offerings. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

Romney’s Bain invested 22 percent of the money it raised from 1987-95 in these five businesses, making a $578 million profit.

There is nothing wrong with making a profit. Nothing wrong with investing. Something is wrong when someone takes the financial leverage they have and leaves a few success stories and lots of gutted carcases. I’ve read a few right-wing posts about defending Romney. Over and over again the narrative is that Romney and people like him did the “tough” things, made the tough decisions, that keeps capitalism healthy. While I have always see the conservative movement as the dog-eat-dog movement it also appears that they see the free market as a modern-day conservatism as the righteous deciminators of economic justice. If they take some action in the market place and you’re investments, your job, your pension and in some instances even the town you live  is wiped out it is because you deserve it for not being one of the meat eaters at the top of the food chain. The Romney faction of conservatism see themselves as the righteous and those who get trampled in their path the dirty peasants who can just eat cake. As these stories and more details emerge about Romney will they hurt his presidential run. There are certainly some blue-collar conservatives who resent the Romney wing of conservatism, i.e. the Republican steel worker in the MoveOn video. Knowing what we know about the frequently impenetrable nature of right-wing tin-foil, towards the end of this NYT editorial analysis by Nate Silver a good point about how exposing the kind of vulture Romney is will appeal to the Right,  Intraparty Attacks Could Be November Liability for Romney

If you want to make a counterintuitive case about the attacks, the better one is that the attacks could help Mr. Romney to win the nomination. Precisely because they are potentially damaging to him, Republican party actors may be quick to rally around him — hoping to declare the Republican nomination over by T.K.O. rather than enduring a 15-round fight in which Mr. Romney is heavily favored but may wind up bloodied. Already, we have seen some evidence of this: a major donor to Mr. Perry’s campaign “flipped” to Mr. Romney because he did not like the substance of Mr. Perry’s recent comments.

Meanwhile, it is unclear how compelling the attacks might be to Republican base voters. I am not going to render a prediction about whether they will work, particularly given the ambiguities in South Carolina polling and the fact that the South as a whole has long been fertile territory for economic populism. But one might attribute higher odds of success to attacks that more clearly originated from the right — those that attacked Mr. Romney, for instance, for his passage of a health care bill that contained an individual mandate, or that pointed out his supposed apostasies on social issues.

What’s unusual about the attacks on Bain Capital is that they might be more compelling to independent voters than to Republican primary voters. Politics ain’t beanbag, and sometimes the front-runner will be attacked by any means necessary, even if it might produce collateral damage. But rarely has there been an attack that had such uncertain potential to harm a candidate in a primary but such clear potential to harm him in the general election. Welcome to the strange world of “super PACs” and the undisciplined messaging that they can facilitate.

There are many reasons not to think reasonably about what should happen to Romney – like relegated to moping around one of his mansions – think of Dick Cheney. Cheney’s favorability in the polls sunk to 19% at one point. Clearly not even most conservatives liked him. Yet we’re probably due for another round of Cheney was great columns from right-wing establishment sites like the Weakly Standard or National Review. It seems as though the worse the conservative is the more the Right embraces them, with just the occasional exception ( Scooter Libby comes to mind). Certainly conservatives will support Romney even he gets the nomination because whatever their misgivings about Romney and his flip-flops their Obama Derangement Syndrome will have the last word.

The Vulture for President

Mr. 1 Percent is clueless about inequality – As the country sees more conflict between rich and poor, Romney thinks we should talk about it in “quiet rooms”

Romney continues to insist Democrats, as well as some of his GOP rivals, are practicing “the politics of envy,” and on NBC Wednesday made what might be his dumbest remark yet. Asked whether there was ever a fair way to discuss income inequality, the GOP front-runner replied:

I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like. But the president has made it part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it will fail.

Romney is so far up Beacon Hill he can’t see the masses clear enough to make any informed judgement about what we think. It could be that many Americans do not see Romney as a successful achiever – as he sees himself – but as someone who started life as a rich kid with every advantage. Not starting from modest means, but already at the top he made more and more unearned wealth with a spread sheet, some wealthy friends and a lack of moral direction.  Most Americans earned every cent they spent on the kids braces, the roof repairs, the new tires for the car, the money they chip in every month to pay for grandma’s prescriptions. It could never, will never occur to the Romneys of America that maybe much of what he has in the bank is not due to merit, but the luck of birth. That given the same circumstances any American could “achieve’ what Romney has. And finally, as Paul Krugman notes Mittens seems even more truth challenged than Bush 43, I mean, is there anything at all in Romney’s stump speech that’s true?

I was deeply radicalized by the 2000 election. At first I couldn’t believe that then-candidate George W. Bush was saying so many clearly, provably false things; then I couldn’t believe that nobody in the news media was willing to point out the lies. (At the time, the Times actually told me that I couldn’t use the l-word either). That was when I formulated my “views differ on shape of planet” motto.

Now, however, Mitt Romney seems determined to rehabilitate Bush’s reputation, by running a campaign so dishonest that it makes Bush look like a model of truth-telling.

I mean, is there anything at all in Romney’s stump speech that’s true? It’s all based on attacking Obama for apologizing for America, which he didn’t, on making deep cuts in defense, which he also didn’t, and on being a radical redistributionist who wants equality of outcomes, which he isn’t. When the issue turns to jobs, Romney makes false assertions both about Obama’s record and about his own. I can’t find a single true assertion anywhere.

And he keeps finding new frontiers of falsehood. The good people at CBPP find him asserting, with regard to programs aiding low-income Americans, that

What unfortunately happens is with all the multiplicity of federal programs, you have massive overhead, with government bureaucrats in Washington administering all these programs, very little of the money that’s actually needed by those that really need help, those that can’t care for themselves, actually reaches them.

which is utterly, totally untrue. Administrative costs are actually quite small, and between 91 and 99 percent of spending, depending on the program, does in fact go to beneficiaries.

 

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