Romney said to Obama that "you said you get a deduction for taking a plant overseas. Look, I've been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you're talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant." Obama was right; Romney was wrong. Romney wasn't just wrong, though. He was heartless, dismissing the possibility of tax breaks for offshoring plants as a matter for his accountant, not a matter of people's lives and livelihoods. And at the very moment he was saying this, Sensata workers in Illinois were fighting to keep their jobs from going to Chinese replacement workers they had been forced to train themselves. Though Sensata is very profitable, Bain saw a chance for more profits in China, and saw 170 American jobs as disposable in pursuit of that profit.
The Sensata workers have been fighting for months, fighting to save their jobs or even to get people to pay attention to what's happening to them. They're not just losing jobs they've held for decades, in some cases. Workers close to retirement won't get their retirement. Instead, they'll get severance. But severance packages were cut shortly before the layoffs were announced, so that, for instance, one worker who would have gotten more than a year of severance pay will now only get 26 weeks. This is a fight for what they've earned through years of hard work. It's a fight for their ability to pay the mortgage or send their kids to college, for their lives as they have lived them for decades working in this plant.
They've fought to get a moment of Mitt Romney's attention, anything beyond a canned statement that he has nothing to do with the offshoring he'll profit from.
When they tried to deliver a letter to Romney at a Romney campaign office, campaign staffers called the police on them.
They've delivered 35,000 petition signatures to Bain Capital asking for their jobs to be saved.
They've camped out outside the factory, and three of their supporters, including the teenage daughter of a Sensata worker, have been arrested trying to block equipment from being moved out of the plant.
And for Mitt Romney, this is a glib line about needing a better accountant. It's about squeezing a little more out of the tens of millions of dollars he gets from Bain every year.
Not that voters would know anything about it if he did, since he's so determined to hide his tax returns from us peons. We do know that Romney has already gotten personal tax savings for donating Sensata stock to charitable foundations. Beyond that? He won't let us know what he's been up to. It is true that the amount of the tax break Sensata stands to get for moving operations overseas is small compared to the amount it will save by cutting well-paid jobs in America and replacing them with jobs paying 99 cents an hour, 12 hours a day in China. But I guarantee you Romney's accountant knows all about it—and that Romney does, too.
Even in the middle of a tight race for president, Mitt Romney doesn't care to help these workers. Maybe if they were from Ohio, not Illinois, things would be different. But they're just workers making him profit, not valuable swing-state voters, so to Romney, these Americans are disposable.