Who is Mitt Romney, at his core? His constantly-changing public positions on issues — sometimes changing inside a single sentence — make it appear he has no core at all. But there has to be a set of core beliefs, a guiding star. This guiding star is the constant that we can discern from his ever-changing, erasable “Etch-a-Sketch” of positions. This guiding star is Wall Street.
Mitt Romney offered an unprompted defense of the 2008 Wall Street bailout on Wednesday, crediting President George W. Bush and the preceding administration for averting an economic depression.
“There was a fear that the whole economic system of America would collapse — that all of our banks, or virtually all, would go out of business,” Romney said. “In that circumstance, President Bush and Hank Paulson said we’ve got to do something to show we’re not going to let the whole system go out of business. I think they were right. I know some people disagree with me. I think they were right to do that.”
How does Romney feel about real industry, that actually makes things?
But Romney also reiterated opposition to the 2009 decision to support General Motors and Chrysler, funds for which were drawn from TARP. The former Massachusetts governor said he drew a distinction between Bush’s actions and Obama’s, which he said only forestalled the necessary bankruptcy for automakers, and gave unions undue influence over the remade companies.
Mitt Romney says bailing out Wall Street saved America. He says non-finance companies should go bankrupt (because Wall Street wasn’t loaning money) even when millions of jobs and thousands of companies depend on them. He says organizations of working people — unions — have “undue influence.”
A Wall Street Worldview
Mitt Romney is of, by and for Wall Street. Mitt made his money buying up companies, laying people off or cutting their wages and benefits, and essentially keeping the money those people made for himself. According to the Christian Science Monitor, this is the story of what happened to the workers in one company when the Romney/Bain machine “came to town”:
The new owner, American Pad & Paper, owned in turn by [Mitt Romney's] Bain Capital, told all 258 union workers they were fired, in a cost-cutting move. Security guards hustled them out of the building. They would be able to reapply for their jobs, at lesser wages and benefits, but not all would be rehired.
Those who have, have it because the deserve to have it. The rest of us — the 99% — are parasites and losers, draining off (through taxes that pay for things like schools) from those who do the real work — the 1%. Society and our government should be for the “producers” and the rest of us should be left on our own to fend for ourselves. This is how Wall Street sees us. This is how Romney has lived. This is why he believes it was good to bail out Wall Street, but we should have let GM and Chrysler just go under.
People in the FIRE sector of the economy — finance, insurance, real estate — believe that finance is the underpinning of the economy. Everything springs from and depends on the holders of great wealth. They really believe that are “job creators” and that the rest of us would be completely lost in the woods if their superior intellect and understanding were not guiding us into the future. While this sounds mocking, try it. Ask a Wall Street type if they think that the rest of us would be lost at sea without the financial sector to make the decisions about where money should be allocated.
Corporations Are People
Last August, Romney said it. Mitt Romney says ‘corporations are people’ at Iowa State Fair,
“Corporations are people, my friend,” Romney said.
Some people in the front of the audience shouted, “No, they’re not!”
“Of course they are,” Romney said. “Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. Where do you think it goes?”
To understand this statement, it helps to understand which people Mitt is talking about when he says ““Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people.” Take a look at this chart of who owns the corporations:
As of 2007, the top 1% owned 50.9% of all stocks, bonds, and mutual fund assets. The top 10% owned 90.3%. Do you think the concentration of wealth has increased or decreased since?
So DID Bailing Out Wall Street Save The Economy?
After the Wall Street bailouts the too-big-to-fail banks gave out huge bonuses. But they did not resume lending. Job losses continued. Foreclosures continued. Small business after small business was forced onto bankruptcy.
This chart shows what actually made the difference. Look a the job losses before and after the “stimulus” kicks in. The stimulus (the part not wasted on tax cuts) built roads and bridges and paid teachers and firefighters — real things, real people.
The red lines in the chart show when Bush was President, after the bank bailouts, and before the stimulus. The blue lines show the change in direction that resulted from the stimulus.
PS It is an interactive chart, move your mouse over it to see.
But Romney, in a primary victory speech this week in Illinois, said otherwise,
“You and I know what President Obama still has not learned, even after three years and hundreds of billions of dollars in spending: The government does not create prosperity; prosperity is the product of free markets and free people,” Romney said.
… “This administration thinks our economy is struggling because the stimulus was too small. The truth is our economy is struggling because the government is too big,” he said.
Romney isn’t just saying this. He believes it, it is his core. Government — We, the People and democracy — are in the way. We don’t know what we are doing. Prosperity is handed down from the wealthy. Ultra-wealthy plutocrats like him should be making the decisions for us.
Mitt’s heart and soul belong to Wall Street. It is his guiding star. It is his core. And Wall Street is the 1%. Mitt is of, by and for the 1%. This election will be about Mitt’s 1% vs the rest of us, the 99%.