Friday, June 22, 2012

Romney, Bain, and outsourcing: A key issue for Obama

There are some who seem to think that the Obama campaign's recent shift from Romney's work at Bain Capital to his tenure as Massachusetts governor closes Romney's vulture capitalism as an issue, that the Obama campaign saw that it didn't have much traction as an issue and basically caved in to Democrats, such as Bill Clinton, uncomfortable with the line of attack the campaign was taking.

I don't buy it. Not. One. Bit.

The fact is, the campaign hasn't really started yet in earnest. It has for Romney, perhaps, but then he's been running hard since last year and is now coasting on the momentum he picked up during the GOP primaries. And while Obama has indeed been out campaigning, in that presidential way of making some speeches and doing presidential things, and while his campaign has certainly started to paint a picture of Romney in anticipation of when the campaign gets underway in earnest with the conventions later this summer, there's still a long way to go with many more twists and turns to come, including from the Obama campaign, which hasn't rolled everything out yet because there hasn't been any need to.

And the other fact is, Romney's work at Bain -- making a fortune off vulture capitalism, destroying jobs and ruining lives -- is absolutely positively fair game. And not just that, it's an issue that has, in my view, a great deal of traction particularly at this time of ongoing economic uncertainty and in light of Obama's ongoing efforts to keep moving the economy in the right direction, a Herculean task that he will highlight again and again the rest of the way.

It's not that Romney has made a fortune. This isn't about punishing the rich or criticizing capitalism. It's about how Romney made a fortune, about criticizing a certain strain of capitalism that makes the rich richer at the expense of everyone else. And there's more about this in today's Post:

Mitt Romney's financial company, Bain Capital, invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.

During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

While economists debate whether the massive outsourcing of American jobs over the last generation was inevitable, Romney in recent months has lamented the toll it's taken on the U.S. economy. He has repeatedly pledged he would protect American employment by getting tough on China.

"They've been able to put American businesses out of business and kill American jobs," he told workers at a Toledo fence factory in February. "If I'm president of the United States, that's going to end."

He can say whatever he wants. But do you believe him?

The Obama campaign will certainly have to be careful how it pushes this issue, particularly given that Republicans will counter by stressing Romney's supposed business acumen and accusing Obama of trying to wage class warfare (and, of course, of being a socialist).

But the president has a strong record to run on -- stimulating the economy, saving the auto industry -- and should be able to make the case effectively out on the campaign trail. In key swing states like Ohio, where so many jobs have been lost because of people like Romney, that could make all the difference.

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