Here we go again: Romney blamed for job losses, instead of top Obama donor


The Obama campaign’s latest assault on capitalism brings us sad stories of jobs lost at American Pad & Paper, also known as Ampad.  Supposedly this company was bled dry by the heartless Count Willard Mitt Dracula Romney, corporate vampire.

Bain Capital, rather than the Romney campaign, issued a statement in response to the ad…  By the way, is everybody cool with the idea that running for President against a socialist means that every company you ever worked for will be subjected to sustained political attack?  I know Barack Obama never had a real job, but another Democrat who actually did work in the private sector might run for office someday.  Do we get to play armchair quarterback with every decision made by his or her former employers, including things that happened after the Democrat left the company?  Or are we establishing the precedent that only lifelong political animals who never worked in the private sector should aspire to high office?

Supposedly Romney made every microsecond of Bain history “fair game” by listing them on his resume, and claiming his investment success means he understands the private sector better than his opponent.  There is no serious question about the sum total of his success.  The Obama campaign is zeroing in on individual decisions made by Bain, ignoring the jobs that would have been lost if no investment in struggling companies was made at all. 

The same Obama team becomes enraged if their candidate’s actual record in office is analyzed in full.  We’re not supposed to talk about the collapsing workforce – we’re expected to smile and nod while madmen babble about the jobs they have “created or saved.”  We’re not supposed to compare the past three dreary years of double-digit unemployment to Obama’s campaign promises, or remember that the actual figures turned out to be higher than what he warned would occur if we didn’t give him a trillion dollars to spend.  We’re not supposed to mention the money wasted in his “green energy” disasters, or the gigantic amount of interest we’re paying on the debt he racked up.  What would Obama look like, if the same team making these anti-Bain ads analyzed his record in precisely the same way?

At any rate, Bain’s statement on the Obama Ampad ad says:

We acquired Ampad from Mead Corp. in 1992, and grew the overall business during the four years we controlled the company.  The Marion plant was a challenging situation in a business that was performing well overall, growing revenues and adding jobs.  Our control of Ampad ended in 1996, fully four years before it encountered financial difficulties due to overwhelming pressure from ‘big box’ retailers, declines in paper demand, and intense foreign price pressures.  Despite political attacks that emphasize the few companies that have struggled, the facts are that during Bain Capital’s ownership, revenues grew in 80 percent of the more than 350 companies in which we have invested.

ABC News chewed on this statement for a while, and then pointed out that Bain remained the “largest single shareholder” in Ampad through 1999, holding “a nearly 36 percent stake in the paper supply company through stock ownership in five investment funds that bought shares in the company.”  This observation is of dubious relevance to the question at hand, since the criticism leveled in the Obama ad is a matter of operational control, not an indictment of every Ampad stockholder.

More relevant is a detail Michael Falcone of ABC News mentioned on Monday night, but Jonathan Karl expanded more fully on Tuesday morning.  Falcone contends that “one of the big box retailers putting pressure on Ampad was a company Romney often holds up as a Bain success story – the office supply giant, Staples.”  It is further argued, using material from a 2008 Boston Globe article, that Staples “used their buying power and access to Asian suppliers to demand lower prices from Ampad.”

It’s quite a stretch to hold Staples solely, or even primarily, responsible for this.  But, for what it’s worth, Mitt Romney was sitting on the board of directors for Staples while Ampad withered, culminating in Ampad’s 2000 bankruptcy filing.  There were three Bain executives on the Ampad board of directors during the period Barack Obama is criticizing, but Mitt Romney was not one of them.

You know who was? Top Obama donor Jonathan Lavine. 

He was always far more involved in Ampad operations than Romney.  “Lavine’s placement on the board of Ampad suggests he had a more direct role than Romney in the series of events surrounding the layoffs, labor disputes, and eventual bankruptcy of the Marion, Ind. Factory featured in the Obama campaign video,” writes Jonathan Karl of ABC.

How does the Obama campaign try to spin their way out of this latest exploding cigar?

“No one aside from Mitt Romney is running for president highlighting their tenure as a corporate buyout specialist as one of job creation,” Labolt said. “The president has support from business leaders across industries who have seen him pull the economy back from the brink of another depression”.

And, Labolt argued, Romney, as the CEO of Bain, would have been the one ultimately responsible for what happened with Ampad.

“He made profit at any cost for himself and his partners by outsourcing jobs and bankrupting companies,” Labolt said. “From buyout to bankruptcy, Mitt Romney was CEO and sole owner of Bain. The managing director working on Ampad reported directly to him and has said Romney could have ordered him to settle with the union but didn’t.”

They really are working hard on sewing up the imbecile vote, aren’t they?  Since the Obama presidency is a disaster, and he perpetually claims he’s not responsible for anything that happened on his watch, isn’t Labolt making a strong argument for replacing him with someone who actually can be held responsible for something?

If you completely ignore Romney’s successes and Obama’s failures, it’s remotely possible to pretend Obama might be a better choice in 2012. How inspiring!