WASHINGTON - President Obama is attacking Mitt Romney's job creation record when he headed a capital investment firm that turned failing companies and start-up businesses into success stories.
The Obama campaign's two-minute TV attack ad was a breathtaking display of political gall by a president whose failed jobs record in a lackluster economy has been dismal at best.
This week's Gallup poll puts the underemployment rate (people forced to work fewer hours, temporary jobs, and long term jobless Americans who have dropped out of the labor force) at 18 percent. The unemployment rate is still stuck at over 8 percent. Fifty percent of college grads can't find jobs commensurate with their educational level and work skills.
But Obama's campaign this week is running an attack ad criticizing Romney's job creating performance in his 25 years in the world of business.
The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy used the very same attack strategy in his rough and tumble Senate re-election battle against Romney in 1994.
The two-minute ad that will air during the evening news Wednesday tells the sad tale of a shuttered steel mill in Kansas City, Mo. that Romney's former firm, Bain Capital, invested in, only to see it go bankrupt.
The company's collapse cost 750 workers their jobs. In the ad, former workers at this plant called Bain a "vampire" outfit that "came in and sucked the life out of us."
But unlike 1994 when Romney was unprepared for the Kennedy attack ads, the former governor's campaign was ready for this one, immediately releasing its own video ad, titled "American Dream." It told of Bain's investment in Steel Dynamics of Indiana that helped the firm grow from 1,400 workers to more than 6,000 employes.
Romney message was two-fold: 1. Not all investments worked out, but far more often than not, his turn-around efforts succeeded, creating jobs and strengthening the U.S. economy. 2. Obama hasn't a clue about how the economy works because he's never worked in it, while Romney has succeeded in it.
The Obama ad is being aired in swing states that will likely decide the election, including Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
It is political demagoguery pure and simple. Bain had tried to save the company, but as happens in some cases, risk-taking investments do not always work and this one didn't. However, Bain officials did nothing wrong that would warrant a political attack.
Who says so? Why, none other than Steven Rattner who was Obama's "car czar" and one of his economic advisers.
"I don't think there's anything Bain Capital did that they need to be embarrassed about," Rattner told MSNBC.
What the Obama campaign leaves out of its attack ad is the fact that Romney no longer worked at Bain when the steel plant went bankrupt. He had left the company for two years to take charge of the Salt Lake City Olympics.
In fact, when Romney was running the company, it had one of the investment industry's best records and still does. One of its successes was a tiny, under-capitalized start up office supply company in Framingham, Mass. called Staples. Romney helped build it into a global corporation in 26 countries, employing thousands of Americans.
There were many success stories in Romney's career, ones we'll be hearing about in the months' to come. They underscore one of his chief strengths in a painfully slowing economy where jobs are in short-supply.
Obama's track record on job creation has not only been abysmal over the past three years, it is the worst record of any president since the New Deal era.
Keith Hennessey, a Stanford University economist, went back over the past 10 presidents, charting the average jobless rates of their presidencies. Here's what he found: Lyndon Johnson, 4.2 percent; Eisenhower, 4.9 percent; Richard Nixon, 5.0 percent; Bill Clinton, 5.2 percent; George W. Bush, 5.3 percent; John F. Kennedy, 6.0 percent; George H. W. Bush, 6.3 percent; Jimmy Carter, 6.5 percent; Ronald Reagan, 7.5 percent; Gerald Ford, 7.8 percent; and Barack Obama, in his first three years, 9.2 percent.
Obama's job creation record is not only a mediocre one, it's been a colossal waste of hard-earned tax dollars.
Unlike Romney who was building businesses and jobs with private investment capital, Obama's job stimulus bill was dishing out nearly $1 trillion to federal, state and local government agencies, with little to show for it.
After nearly three and a half years of his costly stimulus spending programs, unemployment remained between 9 and 8 percent. A Washington Post poll last week reported that nearly half of all Americans surveyed expressed an unfavorable view of his stimulus, 49 percent to 47 percent.
Obama tried to create jobs by "investing" money directly into clean energy programs that he said would create tens of thousands of jobs in the future.
One of them was the Solyndra Corporation that made solar panels. Administration officials in several agencies sent repeated warnings to the White House that this was a bad investment, but Obama pushed it anyway with a half billion dollar loan guarantee. The firm went bankrupt, more than a thousand workers lost their jobs, and the taxpayers were left holding the bag.
Other Obama "investments" went belly up, including a $118 million grant to Ener1, a manufacturer of electric car batteries that also filed for bankruptcy.
Romney will be reminding voters later this year of the money Obama's poor "investments" have lost thus far, and the job-creating deals he killed, like the Trans-Canada oil pipeline.
That decision to block the 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline cost the American people more than 20,000 jobs.
That's going to make one hell-of-a-campaign ad, ending with the tag line, "Would you want Obama investing your money?"
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