Mitt Romney: waffles and Bain in 2012

As he has been running for president since 2007, Willard Mitt Romney is a man who needs no introduction within political circles. After all he is currently the front-runner in the Republican primary field for the 2012 presidential nomination. However, he has been known as a political opportunist; often appearing to choose positions simply because they are popular at the moment. Therefore, let us take a look at the many sides of Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney has quite an illustrious resume which likely led to his presidential ambitions. The son of a Michigan governor, he graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School. Following law school, he worked for a few businesses before being hired by Bain Capital. Eventually he became Bain’s CEO. After losing to Ted Kennedy in a Massachusetts Senate race, he went on to run the 2002 Winter Olympics, reportedly turning the event from a financial black hole into a success. Following that, he presided over a balanced budget, and universal health care as the 70th governor of Massachusetts.

One would think that after such a stellar background, he would be a shoo-in for the GOP nomination. However, the right-wing Club for Growth complains that he has a “stellar reputation as a flip flopper” adding that he “has changed his position on several economic issues, including taxes, education, political free speech, and climate change.” Seems with all those flip-flops, he’s just not reliably right-wing enough for that group.

For example, back in 2008, Romney vehemently opposed the now successful bailout of the Big Three auto companies, preferring to let them go bankrupt. In a New York Times op-ed titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” he, in no uncertain terms, said that bailing out the companies would lead to their “demise.” But, now that General Motors is set to add 2,500 jobs, and Chrysler has repaid its loan early, Romney is singing a different tune. In fact, he is now claiming that it was his idea.

To Romney, whether or not Obama made the recession worse depends on who he is talking to. When Romney announced his candidacy, he declared, “Barack Obama has failed America. When he took office, the economy was in recession. He made it worse.” He continued that debunked  line of attack during several campaign stops in June. However, he backtracked during an interview in Allentown, Pa., with NBC’s Sue Kroll, claiming, “I didn’t say things are worse” – despite copious recorded statements to the contrary. Not to outdo himself, he returned to his original position during a series of July 4 stops, claiming again that Obama  made the recession worse.

In perhaps his most amazing feat, he claimed both positions in the same sentence: “The recession is deeper because of our president; it’s seen an anemic recovery because of our president.”

In case you were wondering: there are plenty of other Romney waffles: abortion, prayer in schools, and  stem cell research.  

This time around, Romney has seemingly placed all of his eggs in the economy basket, making it the focus of his campaign. He and his supporters have cited his business experience and his ability to do things “the Bain way” (referring to his lucrative career with Bain Capital) as evidence that he can fix our ailing economy and put Americans back to work.

There can be no doubt as to his passion to alleviate the unemployment crisis faced by too many citizens in our nation. After all, as he told a group of unemployed Floridians, he can sympathize because he’s “unemployed too.” The only difference between him and the average unemployed worker is that his wealth can be measured in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars. Other than that, he’s just a regular out-of-work American.

How is Mitt’s track record on job creation? Well, after his first year of governorship, Massachusetts had the worst job creation in the nation. After his last year, the state was still the fourth worst in job creation. Instead of running away from RomneyCare because it was the basis of ObamaCare, perhaps he should embrace it. After all, nearly universal health care is a much better accomplishment than having .09 percent job growth.

Bain Capital, the source of much of his vast wealth, also does little to help his job-creating credibility.  The company, now one of the largest private equity firms in the nation, did its business by leveraged buyouts. Essentially, it bought companies, then massively cut their costs in order to turn around and sell them at a huge profit. Unfortunately, “cutting costs” too often meant slashing jobs.  According to Romney, “sometimes the medicine is a little bitter but it is necessary to save the life of the patient.” Or as the Boston Globe put it: “Chances To Fight To Save Jobs, But Didn’t.”

At five of the companies that Romney’s Bain Capital managed – Stage Stores, American Pad & Paper, GS Industries, Dade, and Details – thousands lost their jobs (while Romney and Bain reaped profits). Perhaps when Romney touts doing things “the Bain way” we ought to all shudder.

It may often be difficult to describe how Mitt Romney stands on issues. Political opportunism often has a way of doing that. It seems he intends to make jobs and the economy his campaign’s priority. One thing is for sure: if he intends to continue doing things “the Bain way,” he is going to have a tough time convincing 15 million unemployed Americans to give him their votes.

Photo: Gage Skidmore CC 2.0 


Ryan C. Ebersole
Ryan C. Ebersole

Ryan Ebersole is a mental health counselor on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Having finished his Masters degree at the University of Southern Mississippi, his undergraduate degree at the University of Evansville in Indiana, high school in the Fort Worth area of Texas and pre-K in Puerto Rico, and having been born in Florida, he has experienced several areas of the county.

While in Indiana, he worked at a social work agency for HIV+ clients, as well as a low-income community drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility - both of which caused him to take a great interest in the stigmatized and the disadvantaged in our society. Now as a mental health professional, he hopes to serve these groups, as well as continue political activism, especially for LGBT and health care rights, on the side.