Obama’s Bain Blame Game

Jacob Laksin is a senior writer for Front Page Magazine. He is co-author, with David Horowitz, of The New Leviathan (Crown Forum, 2012), and One-Party Classroom (Crown Forum, 2009). Email him at jlaksin@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @jlaksin.


Pages: 1 2

Given his underwhelming performance in the Republican primary, Texas Gov. Rick Perry would seem an unlikely model for a presidential campaign. Yet the Obama administration is taking a page out of Perry’s hastily retired strategy book by going on the attack against presumptive challenger Mitt Romney for his record at Bain Capital, the venture capital firm Romney co-founded and once headed.

That now-famous mental block apart, Perry’s most notable contribution during his brief time in the running was to target Romney’s tenure at Bain. In a series of ill-fated snipes, Perry condemned venture capital firms like Bain as “vultures” who wait for companies to “get sick and then they swoop in, they eat the carcass. They leave with that and they leave the skeleton.” The populist line earned Perry some deserved scorn from critics, who pointed out that venture capital takeovers of the kind Bain specialized in frequently offered a lifeline to moribund companies that would have gone out of business absent outside investment.

If Perry’s untimely political demise serves as an object lesson about the perils of crude populism and anti-capitalist demagoguery, the Obama administration seems determined to ignore it. This week, the Obama reelection campaign unrolled a television ad to run in five swing states that essentially recycles Perry’s attacks on Romney and Bain. The ad, called “Steel,” features interviews with former employees at GST Steel, a Kansas City, Missouri, steel mill that was taken over by Bain in the 1990s and filed for bankruptcy in 2001. The employees in the ad unanimously condemn Romney and Bain for causing job losses at the mill. “It was like a vampire,” one worker laments, referring to Bain. “They came in and sucked the life out of us.” Rick Perry would have approved.

Whether voters will is far from certain. Among other flaws, the ad is in desperate need of fact checking. For instance, the ad suggests that Romney was in charge when GST Steel filed for bankruptcy, when in fact he had left Bain two years earlier, in 1999, to oversee the Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. That’s not to say that no one in Bain’s leadership from the time is relevant to the election. The current managing director and chief investment officer at Bain is one Jonathan Lavine, who joined Bain in 1993. But Lavine has another distinction, as well: According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks federal campaign contributions, Lavine is a leading bundler of campaign contributions for Obama’s campaign and has raised between $100,000 and $200,000 for Obama’s reelection effort. Conveniently, the “Steel” ad omits that detail.

The bigger flaw in the ad is the false premise that Bain was primarily responsible for the job losses at GST Steel. Obama’s ad makes the charge directly, through a negotiator for the workers at GST Steel who says, “Bain Capital was the majority owner. They were responsible.” That might be a damning criticism if it were true, but it isn’t. The fact is that GST Steel was already going out of business, which is why it was taken over by Bain in the first place. At worst, Bain delayed the mill’s day of reckoning.

Pages: 1 2

  • mrbean

    Romney will win by a landslide and the black mobs will riot and assault white people. Arm yourselves.

    • joy52

      Blacks tend to riot in their own neighborhoods causing themselves a lot of destruction. Look at how Dems handled the Trayvon mess–their missteps are haunting them. White Dems who run urban areas, will clamp down as usual and then try to blame conservatives. Since more blacks moved into the middle class, they will want their homes and businesses protected as well. Any rioting by blacks right after the election will still be on Obama's watch. If he or the Dems don't deal with it, it will just hammer more nails in the coffin of the Democratic Party. Pass the popcorn.

  • aloyicious

    That’s not to say that no one in Bain’s leadership from the time is relevant to the election. The current managing director and chief investment officer at Bain is one Jonathan Lavine, who joined Bain in 1993. But Lavine has another distinction, as well: According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks federal campaign contributions, Lavine is a leading bundler of campaign contributions for Obama’s campaign and has raised between $100,000 and $200,000 for Obama’s reelection effort.

    OOPSIE!!!

  • Schlomotion

    You can see from the photo that Romney is still the little private school boy with a face that is just old enough to bluff his way into the next phase of "rich white guy sitting at a desk." Unfortunately he did it as Governor, and now he is trying to do it a President. Look at those eyes asking if you fall for it.

    • StephenD

      Geez, I never thought of that. I wouldn't have given it a second thought but with your pointing it out. It really is important how someone looks in order for us to vote for them. Thanks so much for your edification on this.

      You fool.

      • John C. Davidson

        A paid comment not worth a response, Stephen.

        • Schlomotion

          This isn't Twitter, John. If you lie here, you get called out for it. So. How much money do you think I make to point out the obvious about Mitt Romney?

          • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

            I haven't thought about it, when you point out the obvious then I'll have something new to think about.

          • Western Canadian

            Guess that would be why you get called out so often.

      • pagegl

        Schlomo's comment supports the contention that the left generally doesn't have anything of real substance to support their arguments.

        • Schlomotion

          Oooh. Paste that into the discussion about Elizabeth Warren being a Cherokee.

          • reader

            Oooh. How clever again. "Paste that into the discussion about Elizabeth Warren being a Cherokee" instead of the "discussion about Warren FALSELY and HYPOCRITICALLY CLAIMING to be a Cherokee to rig the identity based privilege dispersing system."

          • Schlomotion

            Oh, do you really want to go into that molehill? Shall we also go into how every political lunatic on this site claims a lineage from the ancient Israelites to rig an identity based dispersing system in the Middle East?

          • reader

            How can one link Warren's fake indian connection to the Jews? One can't, if one isn't a schlo.

      • Kendrick1

        We must all begin to make our choices on how someone looks. Should we use that someone's countenance or their profile!!

      • Schlomotion

        Of course it's important. If a man can't hold a gaze, he certainly can't hold a country together.

        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

          Doesn't sound like you've convinced anyone.

          The stupid in you is strong.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

    Wait, I'm confused. For the last 3 years I was told it was all "Bush's fault".

    • StephenD

      Now you're told to look FORWARD! LOL

  • John C. Davidson

    Everything the Dems are doing has been tried before and met with some success, but this time, most of us have had enough. The Repubilcans should no longer compromise with those that seek to destroy our founding values. It's created the biggest mess this nation has ever encountered.

  • mrbean

    The mainstream media had their tongues so far up Obama's A$$ that they have embedded his dingleberries in their chin. White guilt, black tribalism, and the adoring leftist mainstream media are the only reasons this clown was ever not properly vetted and ended up elected as President , and the GOP chosing a loser like John "Dead Man Walking" as their candidate in 2008 did not help either.

  • BLJ

    Obama and his band of losers and misfits are running scared. They know if Romney makes the messiah run on his record as POTUS they are toast. I believe Romney is smart enough to understand this.

    The whole idea that major riots will break out if Obumbles is voted out is just a scare tactic. There will be the usual whining and crying by the MSM, but most people will just go back about their business. Life will go on.

    Now if this creep gets a second term than all bets are off. His first term will look like a grade school party compared to what he pull in the second one.

  • HtmlSymbol

    This statement in the Obama ad just shows how economically illiterate our populace (and Obama) is: “They all had more money than they’ll ever spend, yet they didn’t have the money to take care of the very people that made the money for them.” If you “made money”, in other words—a profit—the company wouldn’t have gone bankrupt! In short—the Union contracts were too expensive for the company to make a profit so the company went bankrupt. Now who exactly was responsible for the bankruptcy? (Yes I know that the management who agreed to those expensive wage/benefit packages can be called complicit, but the point is the workers took more out of the company than they brought in—so the company went out of business.)

  • marios

    Democraps redirect their faults to Republicans. They blamed Bush for property estates bubble. But is not it Democrats Bernie Frank and Chris Dodd who were chairmen in Congressional Committee responsible for what is going on in Freddy Mack and Fanny May? In 2006 Pres. Bush brought up this issue as he as businessman with MD in finance understood that something going wrong. Those two said "Everything is well".
    Acorn employees for a long time blackmailed the banks which rejected to give mortgages without research on person ability to pay back. They "occupied' those banks with slogans that bank was against poor people.
    But when crisis burst out Democraps and controlled by them Media viciously blamed Bush and Republicans.
    Blackened Bush and blamed him in all sins what they carefully arranged, they make possible that "MR nobody" was elected as our Pres. Plus all those actions (Acorn, propaganda that they wanted people got "American dream") bought voters. All-prize game!