Once again, Mitt Romney is on the Pennsylvania campaign trail touting his success with Bain Capital to anyone who will listen. He claims that his record as a businessman gives him the experience we need in a president.
Romney’s right to run his business as he saw fit is not under question here, nor is the private equity industry. What we as Americans must question is whether we want the values and lessons Romney holds as a businessman to define our president.
Given his track record in both the public and private sector, Mitt Romney is the last person we need in the White House. During his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, Romney loaded his constituents with the most per-capita debt in the nation and left his successor with a $1 billion deficit. As a corporate-buyout specialist, Romney economics saddled many companies with debt before bankrupting them and leaving middle-class workers jobless, while Romney and his partners made millions of dollars. According to one of Romney’s former partners at Bain Capital, their purpose was to create wealth for themselves and investors. Romney economics ignored growing companies and creating jobs. It disregarded long term economic growth. Certainly no effort was made to strengthen the stability of the middle class.
Romney would run the country as he ran Bain Capital and the middle class would suffer. His values as a businessman would be disastrous for the economic security of the middle class. Time and again, Romney has trumpeted his work with corporate buyouts as a key credential for running for president. While his policies resulted in tremendous profit for him and his partners, it often came at the expense of workers and their families.
For example, GST Steel of Kansas City, Mo., was in existence for 105 years before Bain Capital took control in 1993. With an $8 million investment, Bain Capital took control of GST Steel and promptly loaded it with debt. Within ten years the debt of GST Steel ballooned to over $500 million and was forced into bankruptcy under the control of Bain Capital. Romney and his partners made $12 million, a 150 percent return on their investment, while a company tied to its community for over one hundred years shuttered. Not only did GST Steel’s 750 employees lose their jobs, but also their severance pay, health insurance and pensions because Bain Capital underfunded their pensions. Clearly Romney can look out for the interests of a few, but is unfit to look out for the interests of a nation.
The values and lessons Romney learned as a corporate-buyout specialist aren’t the ones we want in the White House. His economic policies are based off the Bush-era formula that benefited a few, but crashed our economy and undermined security for the middle class and those trying to join it. Romney economics would hurt the middle class instead of helping it grow. These are policies that Romney would bring to the presidency, ones which we can ill afford as a nation.
We cannot afford to return to the same failed policies that caused the economic crisis in the first place. President Barack Obama is moving America forward and fighting for an economy built to last, where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded. His balanced plan will reduce our debt by $4 trillion, and he’s already signed into law a commitment to more than $2 trillion in cuts.
Obama is rewarding American businesses that stay here. Rooted in his belief in the American worker, he’s helping us compete in the global marketplace and putting America on track to double our nation’s exports by 2015.
Obama is investing in competitive grants to reform Pennsylvania’s great community colleges, supporting partnerships with employers to provide pathways to good jobs, and doubling our investment in Pell Grants so an additional 3 million students from working- and middle-class families can access the college education they need for the jobs of the future.
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama offer starkly different visions for America’s future. The question Pennsylvanians must decide is which of those visions will best represent our values in the Oval Office. I want President Obama’s.
Senator Vincent J. Hughes has been a member of the Pennsylvania Senate representing the 7th Senatorial District since November 1994.