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“In A Pretty Pickle”: I Did Not Have Economic Relations With That Company

There’s something weird about Bain Capital. It seems that the company was going along doing what ordinary private-equity firms do—buying and selling companies, making lots of money—until about 1999 or so, when things took a sinister turn. At that point, terrible things began to happen. The firms they backed went into bankruptcy, costing thousands of people their jobs, while Bain still walked away with millions in management fees. They invested in companies that profited from outsourcing and offshoring. Who knows, they may have been producing magical hair-thickening elixirs made from the tears of orphans. Every time one of these new revelations comes out, it seems to concern the period after 1999. But fortunately for Mitt Romney, he has an explanation: When all these bad things happened, I was no longer part of the firm. I left in 1999, when I took the job leading the Salt Lake City Olympics.

Yet today, the Boston Globe comes out with an investigation that seems to reveal that Romney was still in charge after he left for Salt Lake:

Government documents filed by Mitt Romney and Bain Capital say Romney remained chief executive and chairman of the firm three years beyond the date he said he ceded control, even creating five new investment partnerships during that time.

Romney has said he left Bain in 1999 to lead the winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, ending his role in the company. But public Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed later by Bain Capital state he remained the firm’s “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president.”

Also, a Massachusetts financial disclosure form Romney filed in 2003 states that he still owned 100 percent of Bain Capital in 2002. And Romney’s state financial disclosure forms indicate he earned at least $100,000 as a Bain “executive” in 2001 and 2002, separate from investment earnings.

It doesn’t seem too hard to believe that while Romney was in Salt Lake, he also continued to be involved in the major decisions at Bain—even if he wasn’t available to pitch for the company softball team. The problem now is that he’s spent a lot of time denying that he had anything at all to do with the firm after February 1999. He and Bain say he “retired” from Bain at that point, which is directly contradicted by the SEC filings. I’m guessing the truth is somewhere south of his denials—he may not have been “running” the firm, but he was still involved at some level. But if he were to admit that, then he’d have to answer specific questions about his knowledge of the steel mill that went bankrupt, the outsourcing companies, and so on. And there is nothing in the world Mitt Romney wants to do less than have to answer specific questions about Bain and what he did there.

In a way, this all reminds me of some of what we learned about Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. One of the details that came out was that he was adamant that he and Monica did not have intercourse during their affair, apparently because that meant that he could convince himself that he wasn’t really cheating on his wife and say with sincerity that he “did not have sexual relations” with her when he eventually got caught. All of this wrangling over when exactly Romney “left” Bain Capital has some of the same flavor.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, July 12, 2012

July 13, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Romney Embraces Judicial Extremism”: Supreme Court Is A Winning Issue For Progressives

A national poll released this week shows that in the wake of a number of blockbuster decisions, the Supreme Court can be a winning issue for progressives in 2012.

By big margins, Americans trust President Obama much more than they trust Mitt Romney to pick Supreme Court Justices, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday. The poll, which comes two weeks after the Supreme Court narrowly upheld President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, shows that the Supreme Court is the issue on which the president has the clearest and largest lead over Romney — 11 points among all voters and 12 points among independents.

Americans know judicial extremism when they see it, and are rejecting Romney’s promise to bring an already far-right Court even further out of the mainstream.

The current Supreme Court is, by a number of measures, the most conservative in decades. Under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative majority on the Court has struck down hard-won clean elections laws, made it more difficult for women to sue for equal pay, squashed class action suits, and consistently favored large corporations over individual citizens seeking justice. Even the Affordable Care Act decision, while undeniably a victory for the president and for individual Americans, was excruciatingly close and packed with regressive language on the scope of Congress’ powers. The fact is, under a more balanced Court, the decision would not have even been close.

Mitt Romney, however, has promised to bring the Court even further to the right if he is elected president. Romney sent a clear signal to the far right when he chose former Judge Robert Bork to head his judicial advisory team. Bork, whose own Supreme Court nomination was rejected by a bipartisan majority of the Senate in 1987, has for decades set the standard for far-right judicial extremism. His outspoken extremism on everything from workers’ rights to censorship is detailed in People For the American Way’s recent report, “Borking America.”

Last week, Romney moved his position on Supreme Court appointments even further to the right. While the candidate had previously held up Chief Justice Roberts as a model for the type of Supreme Court Justice he would appoint, Romney changed his mind after Roberts voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act. Declaring one of the most conservative Justices in Supreme Court history to be not conservative enough, Romney has signaled that he would usher in a new era of conservative judicial extremism. Americans can only guess at how many rights could be lost under a Romney Court.

These new polling numbers show that Americans aren’t buying the Tea Party’s — and Mitt Romney’s — skewed view of the Constitution. Emphasizing the importance of the courts and the impact the next president will have on them will be a winning issue for President Obama in 2012. As the close call in the Affordable Care Act case showed, every issue that voters care deeply about — from Wall Street reform to health care to LGBT rights to consumer safety to intentional discrimination in the workplace to the right to vote in future elections — will ultimately end up in the hands of a closely divided, enormously influential, Supreme Court.

In a speech Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden urged Americans: “Close your eyes and imagine what the Supreme Court will look like after four years of Gov. Romney. Imagine what it will act like. Imagine what it will mean for civil rights, voting rights, and for so much we have fought so hard for.”

Voters are beginning to imagine a Romney Court — and they’re rejecting what they see.


By: Michael B. Keegan, The Huffington Post, July 12, 2012

July 13, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Ich Bin Ein Small Business”: Small Is So Beautiful To Mitt Romney

Our subject for today is the care and feeding of small businesses.

“I love you guys,” Mitt Romney told a teleconference hosted by the National Federation of Independent Business. “I love the fact that you’re working hard to follow your dreams and to build businesses. I — I love you guys. I love the fact that you’re — that you’re working hard to — to follow your dreams and to — and to build businesses.”

To summarize: We love you, guys.

And they’re everywhere! The Small Business Administration defines a small business as one with fewer than 500 workers, and that’s 99.7 percent of everything out there. “There are 5.7 million firms with employees in this country, and about 5.7 million have fewer than 500 employees — rounding slightly,” said Robert McIntyre, the director of Citizens for Tax Justice.

It’s sort of metaphysical, when you get right down to it. I am you as you are me and we are one and we are all small businesses. Ich bin ein small business. No wonder politicians want to get on their good side.

All of this takes us to President Obama’s call for Congress to extend the Bush tax cuts for families with incomes below $250,000 a year. Most people, the president said, believe it is wrong to “raise taxes on middle-class families.” It was certainly a triumphant moment for the administration’s economic policies. In 2008, who among us could have hoped that four years in the future, middle-class Americans would be making $250,000 a year?

But Romney called the idea “a massive tax increase on job creators and on small business.” He also denounced it as “another kick in the gut to the middle class in America,” thus signaling his determination to broaden the American middle even further, as well as to call everything the president does a “kick in the gut” for the rest of this campaign season.

How do we feel about this argument, people? We are not talking about business taxes, in the normal sense of the word. If we were, it would quickly become so incredibly confusing that you would be begging me to go back to the matter of the dog Romney once tied to the roof of his car.

The typical American business owner does not pay corporate taxes. He or she subtracts expenses from revenues and declares the bottom line as income. There are many, many advantages to this approach. You can avoid corporate tax rates, and it’s a lot easier to deduct things. If you’re a baker of gourmet cupcakes, you can subtract the entire cost of your new $50,000 ovens from your income, right up front, as well as lunch with your best friend who is also an occasional cupcake purchaser.

“There are rules, of course, but both the rules and the implementation of the rules are fuzzy,” said William Gale, the co-director of the Tax Policy Center.

And everybody can get into the game! Including partners in hedge funds and law firms and investment banks. “Here’s the beauty — each of the hedge fund principals themselves is a small business,” said Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council. Sperling is a small business himself because he gets occasional royalty payments for co-writing a few episodes of “The West Wing.”

This flight to small is so popular that the Congressional Research Service concluded that if taxes on high incomes went up, it would actually create more small businesses because more rich people would want to “seek self-employment because the opportunities for tax evasion and avoidance are greater.”

Small business growth. It’s what makes America great.

When the Republicans claimed that capping the Bush tax cuts at $250,000 would hurt small businesses, the Obama administration quickly retorted that only about 3 percent of the small business owners have incomes above $250,000.

Yeah, said the Republicans, but that little slice still represents more than 900,000 people, and half of all the nation’s business income.

Yeah, said the Democrats, but that’s because of the hedge fund managers and law partners and movie stars with rental property.

Yeah, said the Republicans, but the high-end sort-of-small businesses will still cut back on jobs or investment if their taxes go up. Taxes rise, bad things happen. It’s an article of faith. The Hartford Financial Group said it did a survey that showed just that, although as Robb Mandelbaum pointed out in The Times, only 2 percent of the small businesses surveyed actually cited taxes as their prime concern.

We do know these things: Republicans do not like income taxes, even for very wealthy people. Possibly particularly for very wealthy people. Barack Obama, who also has royalty income, is a small business. Possibly the only small business the Republicans do not love.


By: Gail Collins, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, July 11, 2012

July 13, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“America’s Sweetheart, Ginni Thomas”: Did A Justice’s Wife Leak Supreme Court Drama?

NPR legal reporter Nina Totenberg spoke to Bloomberg Law yesterday about the Supreme Court’s recent healthcare reform decision and the subsequent series of stories on the deliberations based on leaks to reporters from court insiders. She made this interesting observation:

“[The leaks] had the earmarks of somebody — somebody or two bodies — who are very angry. Now that’s not necessarily a justice. Could be a justice, could be a law clerk, could be a spouse of a justice.”

Totenberg goes on to say that of course she never tries to learn the identities of other reporters’ sources, but that’s still an interesting bit of … fairly specific speculation, there.

Of course, there is only one “spouse of a justice” that anyone has ever heard of, and it’s America’s Sweetheart, Ginni Thomas.

We already know her husband, Clarence Thomas, is an extraordinarily angry and bitter person, thanks to his memoir, “I Am Still an Incredibly Angry and Bitter Person on Account of That Time Anita Hill Told the Complete Truth About Me.” (And Clarence Thomas is apparently buddies with CBS’s Jan Crawford.) And Ginni made a living, for years, touring the nation telling everyone how awful and unconstitutional healthcare reform was, which means she was probably pretty upset when her husband told her John Roberts voted to kill liberty forever. She’s also known for having really poor impulse control, if her still-hilarious early Saturday morning voice mail for Anita Hill is any indication. So let’s all just assume she’s leaking everything, because she and her husband are so mad and crazy.

(Though Ginni Thomas is still doing video interviews in which she inexplicably doesn’t actually appear for Tucker Carlson’s “The Daily Carlson,” so why didn’t she leak to one of the Caller’s many fine reporters, like Mickey Kaus or the guy who says a black person probably stole his bike? She is an enigma!)


By: Alex Pareene, Salon, July 12


July 13, 2012 Posted by | U. S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A No Show At A Mob Front”: Mitt Romney’s Unnecessary Lie

If you’re planning on running for president, here are a few quick things you should probably do:

  • Make sure your tax returns and finances are in order
  • Make sure you’re not blatantly lying about some major portion of your biography.

Mitt Romney seems to have decided to do neither, I guess because he thought no one would check? Maybe Romney should have taken his fortune out of the various offshore tax havens where he stores it before he decided to run for president, because the thing is every presidential candidate is going to be prodded to release his tax returns and financial information. If you don’t want to be criticized for a Swiss bank account and a mysterious $102 million IRA, either don’t run for president or don’t have those things!

But much, much more important than not looking like a shady tax-dodger is “not telling a fairly easily disprovable lie.” Like “I quit Bain Capital in 1999,” a thing Mitt Romney says all the time when he wants to respond to criticism of various awful things Bain Capital has done since 1999. Except the Boston Globe (and Mother Jones and TPM) have now reported that Romney continued to be Bain Capital’s “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president” until a couple years after 1999. Romney was drawing at least $100,000 a year from Bain Capital and was still listed as the guy in charge on SEC documents and financial disclosures through 2002.

What’s worse is that his resigned in February 1999 line was even apparently contradicted by multiple contemporary news accounts, with two from August of 2001 saying Romney had just or was about to quit Bain. The New Yorker’s Andrew Prokop says, “It seems clear there was a period 1999-2001 where Romney was retaining the CEO job because he thought he might return to it after Olympics,” which flatly contradicts Romney and Bain’s statements. Romney’s best defense, as Andrew Sullivan points out, is that he was drawing a massive salary for doing nothing — like a “no-show” at a mob front.

The only reason Romney wanted everyone to think he quit Bain completely in 1999 to begin with was in order to avoid being accused of being responsible for “outsourcing.” Now, I am 100 percent positive that Romney, as a rich conservative former financial professional, does not consider outsourcing a bad thing. He almost definitely considers it a net positive for the American (and world) economy. The fact is, most elected Democrats support policies that encourage outsourcing — on this there is basically universal consensus among the political and economic elite. Romney — and plenty of others! — believe that companies like Bain Capital perform a public good, even though to some it just looks like parasitic capitalism at its worst. But: Outsourcing and closing down factories and slashing wages and busting unions and laying people off are all things Mitt Romney supports on a philosophical level, and I’m sure it’s galling to him that he has now been caught in a lie designed to cover up actions he feels were totally right and beneficial for the nation as a whole.

How much will it hurt him, that everyone now knows he is a liar? I am guessing “Swiss bank account” actually “hurts” him more, because the Romney campaign was smart enough to call Obama a liar at the exact same time as the national media was getting ready to call him a liar, and for your average person, that just sounds like two politicians saying mean things about each other.


By: Alex Pareene, Salon, July 12, 2012

July 13, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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