Spieckerman Speaks

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rolling Stone throws rocks at Romney

As an early-adopter of the Barack Obama vaporware, Rolling Stone is apparently determined to bolster the besieged President it has long exalted.  Bereft of any significant Obama accomplishments to apotheosize, Matt Taibbi has resorted to concocting a fable to vilify Mitt Romney, “Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and BainCapital.”

Taibbi's character assassination begins by attempting to discredit Romney’s business track record.  This canard is completely contradicted by none other than former President Bill Clinton, who, in a CNN interview, described Romney’s Bain career as “sterling.” 
Nevertheless, Taibbi insults his readers’ intelligence by claiming that Bain Capital and other private equity firms have, for decades, duped legions of sophisticated financial players into repeatedly investing in schemes that only enrich the PE firms’ diabolical owners.  That hoards of hapless, salt-of-the-earth American businesses - "companies that make things," in Taibbi's words - were serially swept-up then destroyed by covetous Bain con-artists.

Following Bain Capital’s investment, once-teetering Steel Dynamics prospered, and is today one of America's largest steel makers.  This is but one of many successful Bain investments in “companies that make things” Taibbi blithely ignores in weaving his defamatory tale.

Steve Rattner, the Obama Administration’s auto bail-out czar and a longtime Democratic heavyweight, called-out Obama’s campaign for similar over-the-top attacks against Romney and Bain:
“Bain Capital’s responsibility was not to create 100,000 jobs or some other number. It was to make profits for its investors, most of whom were pension funds, endowments, and foundations," he said on MSNBC.  "It did it superbly well, acting within the rules, acting very responsibly, and was a leading firm. To pick out an example of somebody who lost their job, unfortunately, this is part of capitalism, this is part of life. I don’t think there’s anything Bain Capital did that they need to be embarrassed about.”
Based on their nationally-televised comments, many right-wing economic Darwinists like Newark mayor Cory Booker, former Pennsylvania governor and DNC chairman Ed Rendell and former Democratic congressman Harold Ford agree.
Indeed, the thousands of retired workers, college scholarship recipients and nonprofit organization clients who are today benefiting from Bain Capital’s investment prowess can thank Mitt Romney for his seminal role in the firm’s founding and success.

Not surprisingly, Taibbi also redacted the reality that some of the Obama campaign's biggest donors are principals in private equity firms which operate under exactly the same paradigm Taibbi's article demonizes.  And that the Obama campaign and Democrats were the recipients of nearly 80% of Goldman Sachs’  political donations in ’08 and 70% of all Wall St. political dollars that year. 
Beyond the Obama Administration’s indebtedness to Wall Street donors, Attorney General Eric Holder’s justice department is laden with Wall St. lawyers on-leave.

Is it any wonder that not a single Wall Street executive – including the maladroit and malevolent Jon Corzine - has been aggressively pursued by the Obama DOJ?

Needless to say, a piece designed to create a Dickensian caricature of Mitt Romney devotes no space to such questions.

While it doesn't fit Taibbi’s leitmotif, the Romney/Ryan tax reforms would eliminate many of the tax advantages and loopholes Taibbi laments, while lowering overall rates. This would provide exactly the kind of playing field leveling between financial companies and manufacturers Taibbi would seem to endorse.

President Obama has refused to even attempt comprehensive tax reform, despite the urgent recommendations of his own Simpson-Bowles debt commission.

In the midst of a protracted jobs crisis unlike anything America has seen since the Great Depression, while on the precipice of a “fiscal cliff” that the OMB says could bring about a new recession, Obama has hosted over 200 campaign fundraisers with fat-cats – more than the three previous President’s combined – and set a new record for golf outings.

I’m sure that a lot of private equity firm partners would envy our President’s “work” regimen, though it might be somewhat disconcerting to the 24 million jobless or underemployed Americans who rightfully expect a fully-engaged President.
Obama's laxity stands in marked contrast to Romney’s consistently successful hands-on leadership style.

In Massachusetts, a state engulfed in red ink, with a legislature that was 85% Democratic, Governor Romney balanced the budget every year and left a sizable rainy day fund – without raising taxes. He dramatically improved the state’s business climate and elevated Massachusetts’ job creation rank from dead-last to 28th in less than four years.

As a result of Romney’s masterful management of the state government, Massachusetts’ credit rating was raised.

That compares rather favorably to the Obama administration. After spending almost a trillion dollars on “stimulus” and adding $5 trillion to our national debt, we have nearly half-a-million fewer people working than when President Obama took office and now, officially, the worst economic recovery since records have been kept. Under Obama, we have the fewest new business start-ups in 30 years. Because of Obamacare, according to a recent poll, 75% of small businesses are reluctant to hire. One year ago, our nation’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time in American history.

Not satisfied with merely besmirching Romney’s business career, Taibbi’s hit-piece attempts to debase Romney’s storied success rescuing the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

First, Taibbi leaves out the fact that, upon taking over the scandal-ridden Games, Romney contributed $1 million to the Olympics, and donated all three years of the salary he earned as President and CEO ($275,000 per year). In effect, Romney forwent $1.8 million for the privilege of working 60+ hours per week saving the Winter Games.

Taibbi then deliberately leaves the false impression that Romney relied on government funds to close the Games’ massive deficit.  He fails to remind readers of one small detail:  the Salt Lake City games occurred on the heels of 9/11 and were an obvious terrorist target.  So, while Romney did succeed in securing significant additional government funds for the event, they were primarily to ensure robust security - not, as Taibbi falsely implies, to fund the Games' operations.

Instead, Romney shored-up the Games' finances by building a stellar management team, providing inspiring leadership and personally enlisting major sponsors. Despite 9/11 security concerns and the Games’ tainted reputation, Romney sold the most tickets and generated the most sponsorship revenue in Olympics history. The Salt Lake City Games ended with a $100 million surplus.

And, as anyone who's researched Mitt Romney or watched the moving testimonies in Thursday night’s Republican Convention knows, Romney is the antithesis of the rapacious reprobate depicted in Tiabbi’s vituperative fiction.

In April 2011, President Obama said, “It's a basic reflection of our belief that those who benefited most from our way of life can afford to give back a little bit more.”  Well, one man competing for the Presidency in 2012 walks the walk.

According to Romney’s 2010 income tax return, he “gave back” 16.4% of his income to charity – almost triple the 6.1% Obama donated to charity in 2006, two years before the President was elected.  For the preceding six years, Obama gave an average of 1.5% of his income to charity; between 2000 and 2004, before becoming a national political figure, Obama donated between 0.4 and 1.4%.

Romney has never contributed less than 10% of his income to charity.

In addition, Romney devoted over 20 hours per week to his role as Boston Bishop of the LDS (Mormon) church – while building Bain Capital.  A just-published Washington Post article details Romney’s heartfelt devotion to his flock during that period, personally counseling and assisting countless members enduring financial and family crises.  The WP story also describes, in great detail, Romney’s ardent efforts to recruit and help Haitian immigrants and Hispanics.

Taibbi’s dark, anti-Romney yarn - like the Obama campaign's nauseating negative advertising - is as ineffective as it is intellectually dishonest.  Americans are coming to the realization that Obama’s big-talking, self-aggrandizing, “phone it in” approach to the Presidency has been disastrous - and that it's time for a change.

Mitt Romney, perhaps the most broadly competent and authentically munificent man to run for President in recent history, is that change.



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