Romney Likes Being Able to Fire People - So What?

Kevin Glass

1/9/2012 12:21:00 PM - Kevin Glass

"I like being able to fire people." - Mitt Romney

Fearful of a Romney runaway electoral victory, Mitt's GOP primary rivals have sharpened their focus on his business career at Bain Capital, which has long been an electoral draw for him. Romney has run as a successful businessman, and both Rick Perry and a pro-Gingrich PAC have been taking aim.

While conservatives look unlikely to unite around one alternative to Romney, the campaigns themselves are uniting around this one theme, that the former head of Bain looted companies, tossed people out of jobs and is now exaggerating his success at the venture capital firm.

It smacks of desperation for the anti-Romney campaigns to come out with such hardline anti-capitalist rhetoric. The process of capitalism is one of creative destruction - the beauty is that new industries and jobs are created when others become less necessary and productive.

The Wall Street Journal has an in-depth analysis of some of these claims, and what it reveals is something that looks pretty standard for a successful investment firm: many projects you could call "fixer-upper" companies that would file for bankruptcy and reorganize, a lot of failed enterprises, and a small handful of projects that returned an enormous profit to Bain.

Among the findings: 22% either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested, sometimes with substantial job losses. An additional 8% ran into so much trouble that all of the money Bain invested was lost.

Another finding was that Bain produced stellar returns for its investors—yet the bulk of these came from just a small number of its investments. Ten deals produced more than 70% of the dollar gains.

... Seeking the protection of a bankruptcy court isn't necessarily a sign of long-term business failure. Many of the Bain companies emerged from reorganization healthier, just as, for instance, General Motors did a few years ago. But while bankruptcy filings aren't a perfect measure of performance, they provide a way to assess a disparate array of target businesses that in many cases weren't required to make public financial filings.

It's easy to see the seeds of what kinds of attacks that Obama and the Left would throw at Romney were he to be the nominee: he's a businessman who doesn't care about the common people! He made money and also fired some people! He destroyed businesses and walked away with a huge paycheck!

Disappointing, then, that his Republican rivals would stoop to this line of attack. It's a plea to workers who have been hurt during the financial recession. Is there really not enough in Mitt Romney's record that they should stoop to his career as a successful and legitimate businessman as a line of attack?