Romneys Bain Gingrichs Bane

Terrance Heath

It looks like attacking Mitt Romney’s Bain resume has become the bane of Newt Gingrich’s campaign. In his latest flip-flop, Newt wants a do-over on his 28-minute Romney attack ad.

Newt Gingrich has called on a pro-Gingrich super PAC to edit a 28-minute film attacking Mitt Romney to “remove inaccuracies” and asked Romney to make the same public appeal to a super PAC supporting his presidential bid.

“This week, fact check organizations like The Washington Post and Politifact have ranked advertisements produced by Super-PACs supporting Governor Romney and myself as containing enormous inaccuracies,” said Gingrich in a statement sent out by his campaign on Friday.

“I am calling for the Winning Our Future Super-PAC supporting me to either edit its ‘King of Bain’ advertisement and movie to remove its inaccuracies, or to pull it off the air and off the internet entirely,” Gingrich said.

“Furthermore, I am once again calling on Governor Romney to issue a similar call for the Super-PAC supporting him to edit or remove its ads which have been shown to contain gross inaccuracies, something the Governor has thus far refused to do,” Gingrich added.

Does that mean Newt is going to re-cut ads like this one?

Or this one?

Probably not. After all, attacking a guy for speaking French is perfectly acceptable. But you just can’t attack a guy for making buck, even if Warren Buffet doesn’t like it.

When I ask whether Mitt Romney is a job creator or destroyer, Buffett says that while businesses shouldnt keep people they dont need, I dont like what private-equity firms do in terms of taking out every dime they can and leveraging [companies] up so that they really arent equipped, in some cases, for the future.

Even if it costs thousands of people to lose their jobs, you can’t go there.

But an examination of the Dade deal, which Mr. Romney approved and presided over, shows the unintended human costs and messy financial consequences behind the brand of capitalism that he practiced for 15 years.

At Bain Capitals direction, Dade quadrupled the money it owed creditors and vendors. It took steps that propelled the business toward bankruptcy. And in waves of layoffs, it cut loose 1,700 workers in the United States, including Brian and Christine Shoemaker, who lost their jobs at a plant in Westwood, Mass. Staggered, Mr. Shoemaker wondered, How can the bean counters just come in here and say, Hey, its over?

Even if it creates no real wealth for society, you can’t touch it.

Even Ayn Rand herself would probably get it.p>

In effect, an important aspect of Rands philosophy supports the central tenet of a functioning capitalist economy: Those who create the greatest societal wealth should be the most highly compensated.

…From this perspective, Rands philosophy points out that real capitalism is no longer enforced in America; not because of welfare programs, taxes, the social safety net, or government regulations, but for a very different reason: The highest paid people in America today create no real wealth for the society.

The financial industry, comprised of traders, hedge funds who exploit arbitrage opportunities, and quants who develop mathematical models to take advantage of minute inefficiencies in trading markets (for stocks, derivative securities of all types, commodities, and more) are now earning seemingly inestimable sums. Hedge fund owners earn billions of dollars annually while traders who earn less than several million dollars a year are not, by Wall Street standards, real successes. Yet they are all gambling in a heads I win, tails you lose game. The outcome of all their efforts are high profits, but little, if any, new societal wealth.

Real societal wealth is anything that enhances the lives of those in our society, starting with basics such as food, shelter and medicine, but also including almost any property a person can own or anything a person can experience, such as entertainment or greater convenience. Real wealth can be eaten, used, shared. or experienced.

Heres a final thought: In Rands Atlas Shrugged, the industrialists who create the real wealth of the society start to disappear as they go into hiding. The trains that make the society work, both literally and metaphorically, stop.

So I have developed what we can call the Ayn Rand test of value: If securities traders and quants at investment firms and hedge funds started to disappear in large numbers tomorrow, would the trains that comprise our economy and society run better or worse?

Conservatives believe that the 99 percent owes the 1 percent. But the reality is that the 1 percent wouldnt have its wealth without the benefit of the social contract that the rest of us support.

Even for Newt, this is something of an accomplishment. Inside of a week, Gingrich managed to expose the truth about what he and fellow Republican contenders have said about Romney, and confirm just about everything his fellow conservatives have said about him. He’s the same old erratic, petulant, tantrum-prone Newt that stomped off Airforce One in 1995.

That said, I understand where Newt’s coming from. When you’ve stepped in it up to your armpits, all you want is to back out of it, clean up, pretend it never happened, pretend everyone else forgets, and hope the smell either dissipates quickly or that everyone is too polite to mention it.

If everything I’ve been reading is even partially true, Newt has really stepped in it this time — maybe over his head, but certainly deeper than he knew or cared to know before he jumped in with both feet. Newt says that “extremely wealthy organizations” have pressured him to back off the Bain bashing. But I suspect that’s got him spooked. Conservatives may be torn over defending Romney and opposing Romney, but they are totally freaked out by the Pandora’s box Newt opened up.

They’re freaked because, like I said earlier, Newt practically steered the whole party into the perfect storm, and they know it. Romney’s vulture capitalism is just part a national discussion about economic inequality — and a majority of Americans now see economic inequality as major source of conflict. That’s a conversation Republicans just aren’t prepared to join. They just can’t, and they’re mad at Newt for turning the national conversation to a problem they have no plans to solve.

Gingrich, Perry, and others are putting particular focus on the people who lost their jobs as a result of Romneys Bain Capital. Gingrichs Super PAC will be running $3.5 million of ads featuring emotional interviews with some of them.

But what, exactly, are Romneys opponents proposing to do about layoffs that harm so many people? Millions of Americans have lost their jobs over the last four years and as a result have often lost their health insurance, their homes, and their savings.

Are Gingrich, Perry, and others proposing to expand health insurance coverage for jobless Americans and their families? All I hear from the Republicans is their determination to repeal the law that President Obama championed which still leaves millions of Americans uninsured. Do Romneys opponents have plans to keep people in their homes even when theyve lost their jobs and cant pay their mortgages? No. Do they propose expanding unemployment insurance? If memory serves, most of them were opposed to the last extension.

Im all in favor of reforming capitalism, but youll permit me some skepticism when it comes to criticisms of Bain Capital coming from Romneys Republican opponents. None of these Republican candidates has exactly distinguished himself with new ideas for giving Americans more economic security. To the contrary until the assault on Romney and Bain Capital every one of them has been a cheerleader for financial capitalism of the most brutal sort.

They’re mad because they’ve been forced not so much into defending Romney (because, honestly, they still don’t like the guy very much) but they’ve been forced to defend vulture capitalism, a monster they helped create, at the precise moment when the race for the GOP nomination heads for some of the places most ravaged by it.

The battle for the Republican presidential nomination has so far been waged in states relatively untouched by the Great Recession. Now it heads to three states with some of the country’s highest rates of unemployment and foreclosures.

In South Carolina, where primary voters hit the polls on Jan. 21, unemployment’s flying high at 9.9 percent. After that, elections will be in Florida, with a 10 percent unemployment rate, and Nevada, where it’s 13 percent. The jobless rates in Iowa and New Hampshire are 5.7 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively.

Nevada leads the nation in both joblessness and foreclosures. One out of every 16 homes in the state was subject to some type of foreclosure filing in 2011, according to Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac, an online marketplace and foreclosure data firm. It’s the fifth consecutive year the Silver State has topped RealtyTrac’s list. Florida’s seventh, with filings on more than 2 percent of homes.

Frontrunner Mitt Romney hasn’t pandered to struggling Nevada homeowners. He told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in October he supports the government stepping aside: “Dont try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.”

That’s not an answer that’s likely to play well in these places, but it’s the only answer Romney and the rest of the Republicans have, really. Just let it hit bottom. That’s got to come of as callous and cavalier to a lot of the people stuck on that ride to the bottom. It seems as though all Republicans are willing to do is wave to them on the way down, cut their unemployment, and then raise their taxes.

Can you blame them for not wanting to talk about that, or for being mad at Newt for almost forcing them to talk about it?

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