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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

“Pathological Dishonesty”: On The Campaign Trail With Mitt Romney

Paul Krugman argued today that Mitt Romney “is running a campaign of almost pathological dishonesty.” That need not be considered hyperbole.

Indeed, Greg Sargent added this morning that Romney’s “falsehoods and all around dissembling” may be designed to “simply wear reporters and commentators down by trafficking in them so heavily that they throw up their hands and give up on trying to track or debunk them.”

But I remain undeterred. A couple of months ago, I launched a Friday afternoon feature, highlighting the most offensive Mitt Romney falsehoods of the week. It moved to Maddow Blog a few weeks ago, so let’s keep this going with another installment.

1. Romney told an audience in Arizona this week, in reference to President Obama, “He said he’d cut the deficit in half. He’s doubled it. He’s doubled it.”

For an alleged numbers guy, Romney is either lying or he’s bad at arithmetic. When Obama took office, the deficit was about $1.3 trillion. Last year, it was $1.29 trillion. This year, it’s on track to be about $1.1 trillion. Does Romney not know what “double” means?

2. On health care, Romney argued, “Our bill [Romneycare] was 70 pages; his bill [Obamacare] is 2,700 pages.”

This not just a dumb argument, it’s also not true.

3. On foreign policy, Romney said, “[T]his president should have put in place crippling sanctions against Iran, he did not.”

Actually, he did.

4. Romney claimed that Syria is Iran’s “route to the sea.”

Iran has 1,520 miles of its own coastline — and doesn’t share a border with Syria.

5. Romney boasted, “I also served in the Olympics, balanced a budget there.”

Well, that’s not entirely right. He hired lobbyists to get a taxpayer bailout for the Olympics and then balanced the budget.

6. Romney claimed, “You can’t be, I don’t believe, anything but a fiscal conservative and run a business, because if you don’t balance your budget, you go out of business.”

That’s both untrue and ridiculous. Businesses operate in the red all the time, and take out loans for capital improvements, expansions, acquisitions, etc. If Romney’s background is in the private sector, how could he not know this?

7. On contraception access, Romney argued, “I don’t think we’ve seen in the history of this country the kind of attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance that we’ve seen under Barack Obama.”

That’s so ridiculous, even Romney couldn’t actually mean that.

8. Also on contraception access, Romney said, “[The Obama administration is] requiring the Catholic Church to provide for its employees and its various enterprises health care insurance that would include birth control, sterilization and the morning-after pill. Unbelievable.”

Yes, it’s literally unbelievable, because he’s lying: churches are exempt. (He’s also contradicting his own previous position.)

9. On the Affordable Care Act, Romney said, “I will repeal Obamacare for a lot of reasons. One, I don’t want to spend another trillion dollars… Number two, I don’t believe the federal government should cut Medicare by some $500 billion.”

One, the ACA saves money and reduces the deficit. Number two, the Medicare claim continues to be wildly misleading.

10. On Pentagon spending, Romney claimed, “This is a president who is … cutting our military budget by roughly a trillion dollars.”

That’s not even close to being true.

11. On international affairs, Romney argued about the president, “He decided to give Russia their number one foreign policy objective — removal of our missile defense sites from Eastern Europe — and got nothing in return.”

That’s just not what happened.

12. Romney’s new attack ad says Rick Santorum voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Santorum left the Senate in 2006 — three years before Sotomayor’s confirmation. [Update: It looks like the Romney camp played fast and loose on this one, showing Sotomayor with President Obama in 2009 when she was nominated for the Supreme Court, but counting Santorum’s vote when Sotomayor was a lower-court nominee. The implication for viewers is that Santorum backed Sotomayor for the high court, which is not true, when he and other Republicans did support her confirmation to a lower court.]

Foreign Policy columnist Michael Cohen noted yesterday that he understands that “politicians mislead and occasionally fib,” but added, “[H]onestly, I’ve never seen anyone do it as brazenly as Mitt Romney.”

With each passing week, I find it harder to disagree with such a sentiment.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 24, 2012

February 25, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!: It’s A Bad Sign When One Of Your Errors Is Your Book Title

This was the week we’ve been waiting for! Decades into the future, you will be able to tell your grandchildren where you were when Mitt Romney announced that he had formed a presidential exploratory committee.

Who knew he needed to explore? He said he was running on his Christmas card, for Lord’s sake.

My job today is to give you a run-through of every book Mitt Romney has ever written. Fortunately, there are only two: “Turnaround,” which is about his stint as the leader of the troubled 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games, and “No Apology,” his campaign tome, which used to be subtitled “The Case for American Greatness” but is now “Believe in America.”

Perhaps three. When the new paperback edition of “No Apology” came out in February, early readers noted that not only had Romney added a new subtitle but also a new preface, ranting about the founders-hating big spenders who are now running the country. And, most notably, he had also changed some critical chunks of the original to make the text more Tea Party-friendly.

For instance, paperback Romney has now noticed that the Massachusetts health insurance law that he championed as governor does have some flaws, all of which are because of anti-freedom provisions that the Democrats in the State Legislature put in. Also, the stimulus was way, way worse than he originally thought.

We all know that Mitt has a habit of, um, mutating to the political winds. So even in its earlier incarnation, the book had a decidedly uneven tone. “Despite my affiliation with the Republican Party, I don’t think of myself as highly partisan,” Moderate Mitt wrote toward the end. This comes after 300 pages of unrelenting attacks on Barack Obama and every member of his party since Andrew Jackson. He blames Bill Clinton for everything from cutting military spending to presiding over an administration during which “birth to teenage mothers rose to their highest level in decades.” I’m sure this week’s Romney does not regard that as a partisan statement even though teenage birth rates actually fell spectacularly during that exact period.

The book is heavy into policy and rather sparse on personal history, except for the parts that relate to his dad being a successful businessman and Mitt himself being an entrepreneurial hero along the deal-making, business-closing, job-slashing private equity line. Romney’s earlier book, “Turnaround,” had some great stories about his Mormon ancestors, including a great-grandmother who single-handedly drove her children to Mexico in a covered wagon during the Indian wars. “At one point along the way, she came across freshly slaughtered U.S. Cavalry horses. She paused only long enough to pry the shoes from the wasted horses, re-shod her own wagon horses, and journey on,” he wrote. Truly, “No Apology” could use a whole lot more of Hannah Romney and a whole lot less about the causes of the decline of the Ottoman Empire.

Also, there is not a single mention in “No Apology” of the fact that Romney once drove to Canada with the family Irish setter strapped to the roof of the car. I regard this as a critical oversight, although perhaps it was Seamus that Romney was thinking of when he chose his title.

But, according to the book, “No Apology” refers to Romney’s objections to President Obama’s alleged habit of going around the world, asking other countries to forgive America for its faults. This Obama apologizing tour is an article of Tea Party faith, but one that PolitiFact analyzed a while back and found it to be false. (“Yes, there is criticism in some of his speeches, but it’s typically leavened by praise for the United States and its ideals.”)

Anybody can make a mistake, but it’s a bad sign when one of your errors is your title.

Of all the awful books by presidential candidates I have read this year, “No Apology” was the hardest to get through. To be fair, Romney does write a lot about the issues, but in a way that makes you feel as if you’re trapped at a school assembly where a long-winded donor is telling you what life is all about. (“If I may return to my engine analogy from earlier in this chapter: Our economy is powered by two pistons …”)

“Turnaround” is a much easier book to read, even though it requires a pretty keen interest in how the Salt Lake City Olympics planners saved the day after Mitt took over in 1999. I was particularly fascinated by Romney’s insistent contention that he is a fun guy. (“I love jokes, and I love laughing.”) There is not much evidence of actual humor, although Romney says that when he visited the Clinton White House, he prankishly protested being given a visitor’s badge that had a red A on it, saying, “I’m not the one that cheated on my wife.”

Maybe you had to be there.

By: Gail Collins, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, April 15, 2011

April 16, 2011 Posted by | Birthers, Conservatives, Democrats, Elections, Exploratory Presidential Committees, Freedom, GOP, Governors, Independents, Jobs, Mitt Romney, Politics, Teaparty, Voters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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