So why is this issue with Mitt Romney’s departure from Bain Capital such a big deal? Just to recap, Romney had stated that he had nothing to do with Bain after February 1999 when he left to take over the Salt Lake City Olympics. This is important because after 1999 is when Bain really kicked up their offshoring of American jobs. As a presidential candidate trying to get votes from the people whose jobs were lost to those decisions, it would make sense that Romney would want to distance himself from the company that did the offshoring.
Here’s the thing, though. Romney’s running on his business experience. He’s running as fast as he can from is governorship in Massachusetts, to the point that he’s throwing his own healthcare plan that was a model for the Affordable Care Act under the bus. He asserts that he knows how to creating jobs, even though that’s not what Bain is/was about. Bain is a private equity firm. It’s purpose is to make money for investors. If creating jobs domestically, makes money, that’s great. But if a greater bottom line can be achieved by throwing American workers under the bus in exchange for cheap Chinese labor, that’s also a valid and expected choice.
But Bain did all it’s outsourcing after 1999, so Romney had nothing to do with it, right?
Well, if “nothing to do with it” means being owner, managing director, CEO, sole shareholder and Grand Poobah (okay, I threw that last one in for kicks) of Bain, as evidenced on several legal filings, then, Romney’s telling the truth, but that doesn’t seem quite right, does it?
So Romney’s evolving explanation seems to be that he left the company in an operational sense, but he retained the titles until he “retroactively retired” in 2002. You know, that would be sufficient for me. That makes sense. One would think that a company that needs to make well-timed decisions of when to buy and when to sell would be able to manage a simple personnel change more quickly, but maybe Romney only decided to finalize his decision in 2002. Again, that works and is understandable.
Now, there seems to be mounting evidence that his role in those years was more than titular, so this is an evolving story. Still, let’s stay with this argument for the moment.
Romney did not say that his role was titular. He said he had no responsibility for anything Bain did after 1999. Clearly, that is not true, and the story is continuing to change. Romney is afraid of this news. He’s does not want the American people know know about his business dealings. That’s why he’s not releasing his tax returns. That’s why he’s whining and trying to get Obama to apologize for playing hardball (Obama’s playing this aggressively, but clean. It’s fair game.) and going on all the Sunday shows to do damage control. He’s even jumping on the Fast and Furious non-scandal.
It’s not working. It’s not working because the smartest thing Romney could do would be to come clean. Tell the whole truth about Bain and release his tax returns. Any competent political advisor should be telling him this.
The fact is that these are not big issues. It’s not like Romney’s running on being in favor of labor and environmental standards, so his argument for off shoring would be that regulation hurts our international competitiveness. I reject that argument, but I’m not a free trader.
Really, the only reason for Romney to not release this information would be if the damage from the secrecy is less than the damage caused by what would be revealed.