Mitt Romney’s campaign team told reporters earlier yesterday there would be no questions for the candidate at any point during the day. As it turns out, that wasn’t quite true – the presumptive Republican nominee was willing to answer plenty of questions from conservative blogger and radio host Ed Morrissey.
Of particular interest yesterday was Romney responding to criticisms of his controversial work at Bain Capital, where he orchestrated leveraged buyouts, flipping companies quickly for large profits, at the expense of thousands of workers who were considered collateral damage. Romney tried to turn around talk about the mass layoffs he engineered.
In reference to his private-sector background – which, apparently, is the only aspect of Romney’s experiences that are supposed to matter in 2012 – Romney claimed:
“We were able to help create over 100,000 jobs…. On the president’s watch, about 100,000 jobs were lost in the auto industry and auto dealers and auto manufacturers, so he’s hardly one to point a finger.”
The Nation’s Ari Berman argued that Romney is guilty of “fuzzy jobs math,” and Ari’s absolutely right. The closer one looks at this, the more delusional Romney’s argument appears.
First, President Obama’s rescue of the American automotive industry (over Romney’s objections) is largely the opposite of Bain Capital’s vulture-capitalist tactics. The comparison is silly. But even if we put that aside, Obama’s rescue policy saved over 1 million jobs and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, auto industry employment has increased by over 100,000 jobs since Obama took office in January 2009. Romney has this backwards.
Second, Romney keeps moving the goal posts on his Bain-era job totals. Asked about the jobs he created in the private sector, Romney has gone from “10,000 jobs,” to “tens of thousands of jobs,” to “over 100,000 new jobs,” then back to “tens of thousands jobs,” then down to “thousands of jobs,” then up to “some 120,000 jobs” (using an amusing standard), and now back down to “over 100,000 jobs.”
This isn’t true, and the constantly-changing figure has become laughable.
Finally, there’s generally-overlooked detail: Bain Capital was never in the job-creating business.
Romney’s making a fundamental mistake by even trying to argue that his private-sector experience had anything to do with employment. Bain Capital never tried to create jobs; it simply wasn’t the point of the firm’s work. The goal was to generate wealth for Romney’s investors, not create jobs. And as Romney often found, the way to maximize profit was to frequently engage in mass layoffs.
What matters far more is Romney’s term as governor, when he had an opportunity to apply all he knows about using public office to put people to work. Unfortunately, Massachusetts’ job creation record during Romney’s term was “one of the worst in the country,” ranking 47th out of 50 states.
This is the record that has the most relevance in the presidential race. It’s also the record Romney prefers to ignore.