In the most recent ‘etch e sketch’ attempt to gain traction against Obama, the Mitt Romney campaign has tried to apply the label ‘outsourcer in chief’ to President Obama. For many reasons, this is comical, not the least of which is the fact that I’ve been calling Romney a would-be ‘outsourcer in chief’ based on his experience at Bain Capital closing down US companies and shipping jobs overseas since early this year.
Just take a look at the comments section, about #20 down the list.
What Insanity Looks Like
Though my statements were rhetorical, they were based on a very real concern. The current Republican ideology is based in the belief that policies strictly aimed at benefiting the wealthy create jobs. This is little different from the policy views of the Bush Administration which resulted in millions and millions of jobs lost, saw declining wages, and caused the worst recession since the Great Depression. This record, alone, should be enough to make Republicans reconsider their political platform. Unfortunately, they have not. They simply push the same policies that wrecked the economy the last time and expect a different result.
As Einstein wisely said ‘Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.’
But if Republicans doubling down on terrible policy positions weren’t enough to demoralize any thinking American, all one would have to do is look at the political and business resume of their presidential candidate: Mitt Romney. One would think that a Presidential candidate, someone who wishes to lead this great nation, would show a few elements of real patriotism, a few instances of putting the interests of country and fellow citizens first, of serving the greater good for America.
This is dramatically not the case with Mitt Romney.
Romney’s Lack of Patriotism on Taxes, Middle Class Jobs
First, rather than keeping his money in the United States, where it might actually do some work to support American jobs, he’s shipped loads of it overseas to foreign bank accounts, likely in an attempt to avoid US taxes. If this is the case, by outsourcing his money to offshore banks, he’s undercutting the jobs of soldiers, teachers, scientists, researchers and so many other middle class jobs created through government expenditures.
If his actions weren’t enough, Romney’s endlessly negative rhetoric is, at times, aimed directly at these workers, blaming them as if they were the cause of America’s problems and not its victims. In June, Romney provided us with a stark example of these attacks:
“He wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”
The message of Wisconsin? The message of Wisconsin was that big money can control a state’s political process so as to force greater economic pain on the middle class by denying the rights of teachers, police officers, and firemen. The message of Wisconsin was that a GOP possessed by the maniacal ghost of the John Birch Society hates the American worker.
Profits From Impoverishing the American Worker
Apparently, not only did Romney not seem to ‘get’ the lesson of the lost 8 years under Bush — cut government-based middle class jobs and key regulations too much and it deeply hurts the American people — he also seems to think that a lawless, uneducated America where homes and businesses are allowed to burn down is a fine place to live. And based on this statement, one would think that Romney supports the current minimum wage pay for policemen and firefighters in Scranton, after draconian cuts have forced devastating wage reductions there.
But even if Romney’s campaign rhetoric isn’t damaging or revealing enough, we have his past business record to look at. In short, he was CEO at Bain Capital, a firm whose primary job was to target companies that appeared to be at risk of financial difficulty, gain a controlling stake in those companies’ stocks and then cut wages and benefits, eliminate jobs, and sell company assets in order to make a profit. The fact that certain investment firms behave in this fashion is one of the uglier aspects of capitalism. It is a sort of predatory opportunism that tends to concentrate wealth at the expense of workers and the economy as a whole. In many cases, this loot and pillage ‘capitalism’ wrecks entire communities, leaving behind wasted industrial lands that will never again be revitalized. The companies that function in this fashion often operate under the euphemism ‘private equity,’ which makes what they do seem innocuous. But when looking at the process, it’s pretty ugly and harmful.
Even worse, it doesn’t seem those at Bain were very contrite about how they’d made their profits. Take a look at this celebratory picture and it’s pretty easy to see that Romney and his buddies at Bain had very little pathos for the American workers whose jobs they wrecked:
Bain’s Record of Outsourcing Jobs to China
But not only did Bain engage in corporate raiding and pillaging activities that wrecked a number of previously vital US communities, they also engaged in activities that shipped US jobs overseas. According to a recent Washington Post article:
“During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.”
In essence, Bain profited from wrecking industries within the US and then took the money and invested it in factories and call centers in China. To a company like Bain, this meant big bags of money. To America, this meant loss of family-supporting jobs, economy-supporting middle-class consumption, and deficit-reducing and middle class jobs-supporting taxes.
The sad fact is that these kinds of ugly activities do happen in capitalist economies. But it doesn’t mean that a corporate raider whose record involves wrecking US communities and using the profits to build factories and businesses in China should be able to run for President on ‘business acumen’ and a record of ‘job creation.’ Quite to the contrary, Romney shows that he is completely out of touch with the struggles most American families now face. A dire struggle he, in part, is responsible for creating.
Republican Spin: They Will Now Attempt to Misinform the American Public On China and Alternative Energy
Because the Obama Administration has rightly held Romney accountable for a past that involved economically destructive business activities, for actively outsourcing American jobs, and for a record of offshoring his wealth to other countries, the Republicans are now desperate. They are in the process of attempting to create a new narrative. And this narrative conflates a number of their implicit goals.
First, defame Obama as outsourcer.
In this new twisted argument, the Republicans will attempt to label Obama as an oursourcer. This is their best defense because it takes Romney’s glaring weakness and own terrible record of outsourcing and attempts to turn it into a strength by making Obama look as bad as Romney on this issue.
Second, attack the alternative energy industry.
Ever since Republicans have stymied funds for US wind and solar industries, they have been complicit in handing leadership in this key industry to China. The results of their failures have been the bankrupting of solar manufacturers and ceding massive numbers of manufacturing jobs to China. At the same time, Republicans make political hay by attacking Democrats for the failures their own policies and inaction have caused. And this is simply the argument of saboteurs and those who have made careers out of blaming the victim.
For example, for years, Republicans looked the other way as China dumped solar panels at lower than the cost of production on the US market. Cynical monied interests shorted these industries at the same time. When Solyndra, unable to compete under market conditions of unfair dumping and investor flight, went bankrupt, the Republicans rushed in to blame the victim, trying to label it another Enron.
Now, Republicans are attempting to capitalize on a condition their policies created in order to blame Obama for outsourcing.
First, they have labeled an economic condition they caused — flight of wind and solar industry jobs to China — ‘outsourcing.’ Second, they are blaming Obama for loss of jobs due to Chinese solar panel dumping. These actions are aimed at a final goal — fossil fuel market dominance.
Third, pave the way for fossil fuel resurgence in the US.
If Republicans are successful in their attempts to label Obama and to turn the US alternative energy industry into an abject failure, they will pave the way for increased US dependence on the kinds of fuels that will wreck our future: oil, natural gas, and coal. These attacks will also serve to set the renewable industry back decades at a time when it is most necessary to deal with the combined problems of energy security and climate change. In short, the loss of the US alternative energy industry to these malicious special interests will be both devastating to the economic future of the US, our standing in the community of nations, and a climate that supports a vital US agricultural industry.
Republican Failures, Cynical Political Manipulation and Blame-Making Requires a Real Response by Leadership
Because the issues have been confused by Republican political operatives, it will be unlikely that the American people will understand the causes of these economic conditions unless they are directly brought to light. It is, therefore imperative that Obama create a set of policies directly aimed at aiding the US alternative energy industry, creating jobs in the US alternative energy sector, and holding China and investment firms accountable for damaging the US alternative energy industry. As Republicans move to oppose any legislation that will have a real impact on shoring up this industry, it will become clear which side they are on — that of China and outsourcing and not that of the American worker.
One has to show these cynical attacks for what they really are — a disingenuous attempt to regain and concentrate power and to provide no help at all for struggling American families. IF Republicans had been serious about preventing US alternative energy jobs from going to China, they would have supported the stimulus, they would have supported the GM bailout, and they would have joined those sounding alarms about China’s trade war on US alternative energy rather than attempting to kill that industry in favor of dirty, dangerous and depleting fossil fuels. The pretense, under which Republicans are operating: that they are actually concerned about loss of US alternative energy jobs to China is laughable. And the laissez-faire and dirty industry supporting policies they would enact if they gain power would only speed US loss of alternative energy leadership to China and the flight of key American jobs to overseas entities.