One of my closest friends told me that he was voting for Romney last night. I was shocked. This friend is smart and pretty independent politically but he voted for Obama last time and I couldn't understand why he'd switch votes this election. When I pressed him it was because he values Romney's business experience (referencing Bloomberg's work in New York as a positive example of what a business man can do in office). We didn't have too much time to talk about details but my friend, who really is open minded, said that if I sent him an email rebutting his argument, he read everything I sent to him. Below the fold is the email I sent him. I hope it sums things up pretty well and can be used by others having the same discussion.
You asked for articles. Despite the fact that I think you're focusing in on the wrong thing (honestly, I would simply never vote for someone who changes positions as frequently as Romney as who lies as blatantly as Romney simply because, no matter what you think, you can't trust him), I'll try to focus on your argument that you think he'd make a better president than Obama because of his business background. Like we said, this argument is hard to rebut because it's not fact based (I'm not saying that's a bad thing) but opinion based. But, in my opinion, the type of business man that Romney was: (1) didn't add any value to the economy; (2) showed a distinct lack of patriotism; (3) showed a distinct lack of empathy; and, most important, (4) doesn't say anything about what type of president Romney would be. He's not Bloomberg or Bill Gates or even Zuckerberg. He built nothing. He started out rich, got favors from his parents rich friends, invested his money well (although heartlessly), took extreme advantage of his ability to get leverage, privatized profits and socialized his losses.
So here's a few articles cherry-picked to back up my opinion but that I think you'll find credible:
From Ronald Reagan's former budget director (a career conservative from Texas and a business man himself) basically saying the same thing I was saying last night, that Romney experience isn't one of leading or building but of skimming and profiting: Mitt Romney: The Great Deformer
An article from USNews on how business man usually make bad presidents: Sorry Mitt Romney, Good Businessmen Rarely Make Good Presidents
An articles not about Romney but a corporate history of a company raided by the type of Private Equity that Bain does (again, not all private equity is bad and not all investments by Bain were bad but the type of LBO investing that Bain specializes in--actually pretty much invested--often profits for reasons like this): Profits for Buyout Firms as Company Debt Soared
On Bain specifically (from a Los Angeles Times article) to show that the Simmons story really is relevant: "To boost profits, Romney and his team hatched an audacious plan to take control of established companies, not just start-ups. To do so, they used bank loans or other debt to leverage, or sharply increase, their investments.
To help pay off the debt, Romney's group immediately pulled money out of target companies, typically by stripping assets and paying itself high monthly management fees, preferred dividends and numerous other payments. They then sold their stake, or took the company public, as early as possible." To assess Romney, look beyond the bottom line
To drive the above point home, here are some Bain examples (look at the timing of each of these, like I said yesterday, most Private Equity Funds have a lifespan of roughly eight years, so there is an incentive to maximize return over the eight year span and then get out):
• American Pad & Paper: Bain invested $5 million in the small paper company in 1992, and reportedly collected $100 million in dividends on that investment. AMPAD went bankrupt in 2000, laying off 385 employees.
• Dade Behring: Bain Capital invested $415 million in a leveraged buyout in 1994, borrowed an additional $421 million, and ultimately walked away with $1.78 billion. Dade filed for bankruptcy in 2002, and 2,000 workers lost their jobs.
• DDI Corporation: Bain Capital reportedly invested $46.3 million in 1997, reaping $85.5 million in profits and an additional $10 million in management fees. When the company later went bankrupt, 2,100 workers were laid off.
• GS International: In a somewhat less profitable transaction, Bain Capital invested $60 million in 1993 and received $65 million in dividends. This company, too, went bankrupt in 2002, and 750 workers lost their jobs.
• Stage Stores: Bain invested $5 million to purchase the company and took it public in the mid-'90s, reaping $100 million from stock offerings. Stage filed for bankruptcy in 2000, and 5,795 workers reportedly were laid off.
To show how heartless Romney is (and I really don't want a president with this little empathy), a quick story on the American Pad and Paper bankruptcy (in case you haven't heard it): before they fired all of the workers they asked the words, they asked those workers to construct a stage near their factory. They then called all the workers together in front of the stage, climbed up on the stage and fired them all from the stage that they'd just asked the workers to build. I can hardly think of a more heartless story that doesn't end with someone dying.
To differentiate what Romney did from investing that shows more than the ability to take advantage of leverage rates and negotiate a good deal, I'll quote from a Rolling Stone article: "There's only one problem with Romney's story: It doesn’t describe most of what private equity firms actually do. The companies Romney holds up as successes – Staples, Sports Authority et al. – were not Bain private equity deals; they were venture capital investments in companies that Bain neither owned nor ran. All well and good: Venture capital is a good thing – essential for funding the growth of new and developing companies. But Romney didn't make his fortune through venture capital; he made it through private equity – and private equity, as President Obama pointed out this week, is a very different proposition. "Their priority is to maximize profits," the president said of PE firms, and "that’s not always going to be good for businesses or communities or workers." [Note, it explicitly says "not always"; sometimes it is good but whether it's good or bad has always been irrelevant to Romney] a quote one of Romney's former colleagues: "They're whitewashing his career now," said Marc B. Wolpow, a former managing director at Bain Capital who opposes Romney's White House bid. "We had a scheme where the rich got richer. I did it, and I feel good about it. But I'm not planning to run for office."
Finally, just a quick reminder of four things (I can verify all of this if you want but it's pretty well documented), over the last 50 years:
1. More jobs are created under Democratic presidents
2. The stock market does better under Democratic presidents
3. The debt increases less under Democratic presidents
4. Average wealth increases more under Democratic presidents