The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

Romney Persona Non Grata in Italy for Bain’s Deal Skirting Taxes | Bloomberg

Mitt Romney … skipped Italy on his trip to Europe.

That’s because Bain Capital, under Romney as chief executive officer, made about $1 billion in a leveraged buyout 12 years ago that remains controversial in Italy to this day. Bain was part of a group that bought a telephone-directory company from the Italian government and then sold it about two years later, at the peak of the technology bubble, for about 25 times what it paid.

Bain funneled profits through subsidiaries in Luxembourg, a common corporate strategy for avoiding income taxes in other European countries, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg News. The buyer, Italy’s biggest telephone company, now has a total market value less than what it paid Bain and other investors for the directory business.

[…] Romney himself probably earned more than $50 million, and possibly as much as $60 million from the Italian directory sale of Seat Pagine Gialle SpA, according to a person familiar with the matter. The deal turned into one of the biggest windfalls of his tenure.

“With this investment, Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, with its consortium partners, partnered with a new management team to transform this company, and grow it into a tremendous success,” said Michele Davis, a spokeswoman for Romney’s presidential campaign. “Mitt Romney is running for President to put that experience to work.”

On the Moral Depravity of the Bootstraps Trope

Chris Floyd reexamines Mitt Romney’s dropout speech from 2008:

In his swan song, Romney makes it clear that he and his elites want to continue pressing their “shock therapy” on the American people as well, rolling back the very mild attempts in the past to ameliorate, slightly, some of the worst excesses and inequities of unhinged corporate greed. In fact, Romney identifies these tepid measures as dire threats to “American culture” itself:

The threat to our culture comes from within. In the 1960s, there were welfare programs that created a culture of poverty in our country. Now, some people think we won that battle when we reformed welfare. But the liberals haven’t given up. At every turn, they tried to substitute government largess for individual responsibility. They fight to strip work requirements from welfare, to put more people on Medicaid, and remove more and more people from having to pay any income tax whatsoever. Dependency is death to initiative, risk-taking and opportunity. Dependency is culture killing. It’s a drug. We’ve got to fight it like the poison it is.

The ignorance — and inhumanity - of this statement is breathtaking. Think of it: there was no poverty in the United States until “liberals” came along in the 1960s and “created” it with their welfare programs. (Before this “culture of poverty” was created, apparently, the few poor people in America just died off discreetly, like Russians, instead of hanging around a bit longer on government handouts, the way they do now, the shiftless, no-good wretches. Oh yeah, and they breed a lot too, more than white folks.) And even though Bill Clinton (uncredited here, of course, but the elite are well aware of his sterling services) finally drove the stake through the welfare program, these evildoers will still not rest. Just look at what they want to do: “put more people on Medicaid,” and “remove more and more people from having to pay any income tax whatsoever.” (Wait a minute; I thought red-meat-chomping CPACkers were in favor of people paying no taxes. I guess that only applies to the right sort of people.)

All of this — especially the stuff about “risk-taking” and “dependency” on government largess — is pretty rich coming from an avatar of a ruling class that is glutted with pampered heirs of wealth and power who, like Romney, begin their totally risk-free careers at the very top of the ladder, and who are continually fattened with no-bid contracts, kickbacks, tax breaks, subsidies, war profits and myriad other forms of “government largess.” But beyond the transparent hypocrisy – and the ludicrous pretense that the “liberals” in today’s Democratic Party pose some kind of genuine threat to this cornucopia – Romney’s blast is a perfect encapsulation of the elite’s hatred for the rabble they use as cannon fodder and cash cows. Let them get sick, let them die, let them languish in poverty, let them lose their homes, let them work three jobs to make ends meet – but by God don’t you ever do anything, anything at all, to change the system that produces these chronic inequities and keeps the pampered elite in clover. That’s evil. That’s “poison.” And it won’t be allowed.

[A] dollar spent on the military is ‘different’: it’s less valuable in terms of job creation than spending on government programs such as those administered precisely by the Department of Health and Human Services. This, however, will probably be news to Mitt Romney and his generously-spending militaristic advisers. What shouldn’t be news to the Romney campaign however, is [John] Bolton’s push to rob social security and health care spending to give more money to the military. Stumping For Romney, Bolton Calls For More Military Spending At The Expense Of Health Care

Romney’s Regressivism

robertreich:

Fine to nail Romney with Bain Capitalism. But let’s not forget Romney’s budget proposal, which mimics Paul Ryan’s. Take a moment to make yourself aware of both, because they’re eye-opening and scary.

Both would restore the military budget, slash Medicare (turning it into vouchers that shift costs to the elderly) and Medicaid (turning it over to the states but without enough money to keep it going), cut programs for the poor (food stamps, Pell grants, etc), and yet at the same time cut even more taxes on the super rich.

According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, Romney’s plan would give a $250K tax cut, on average, to everyone now earning over a million dollars a year.

Yet Romney’s plan would also — according to the non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities — increase the federal budget deficit by more than $3 trillion over the next ten years. (Romney says he’ll close tax loopholes, but he assiduously avoids saying which ones — which means he won’t really close any.)

This is truly nuts, and it represents not conservativism but regressivism — a lurch backward toward the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.

Romney, Bully | Ted Rall

A few random thoughts about the Romney bullying story:

First, this story probably has legs. It frames an unpleasant narrative about Mitt Romney’s personality: Not only do his politics suck, he’s an asshole. Personally. The kind of asshole who abuses his pets. Who takes over profitable companies and bleeds them dry, leaving people jobless for no good reason. Who mutilates someone because he’s different. Faggy. In the same way that the story about George H.W. Bush being surprised about a supermarket scanner made him seem out-of-touch during a recession, the Romney bullying story has the potential to make him seem unlikeable in a way that he will have a very hard counteracting.

And we’re not just talking about bullying: shoving, punching, etc. This sounds almost rape-y: a long-haired boy held down to the ground by several boys as one hacks off his hair. Primal.

It doesn’t matter whether the story is even true: the image fits. It works. That’s the problem. And Romney didn’t help with his response: calling the victim a “fellow.” Who uses the word “fellow” in 2012? A “homosexual”? Who uses that word, either? He should have either denied the story entirely, or said something like this:

I did lots of stupid shit when I was a kid. I was kind of wild. Man, I sure wish I could take most of it back. If I could go back in time, I would catch myself being an asshole and beat the shit out of myself. All I can say now is, I am a fervent defender of the oppressed, including gays, and even though I don’t think marriage is a good idea for gays and lesbians, I view them as absolute equals in all ways and will always fight for them and every other American.

Obama has got to be laughing his ass off.

On another note, it’s very cool that bullying has become so uncool. When I was a kid, often victimized by bullies, no one gave a shit. This is progress.

Mitt Romney's Neocon War Cabinet | The Nation

In December Gingrich pledged at a forum sponsored by the Republican Jewish Coalition that he would appoint Bolton to run Foggy Bottom. But the mustachioed über-hawk, who was a controversial under secretary of state for arms control and UN ambassador in the Bush administration, endorsed Romney instead. Bolton has since campaigned energetically for him, serving as a key surrogate on national security issues. “Many conservatives hope that [will] include accepting a senior national security post in a Romney administration,” wrote Jennifer Rubin, a neoconservative blogger for the Post.

Few advisers personify the pugnacity of Romney’s foreign policy team better than Bolton. He has been a steadfast opponent of international organizations and treaties and seems never to have met a war he didn’t like. Shortly before the invasion of Iraq, he told Israeli officials that Syria, Iran and North Korea would be the next US targets. Over the past few years Bolton has been an outspoken proponent of an Israeli attack on Iran. “Mitt Romney will restore our military, repair relations with our closest allies and ensure that no adversary—including Iran—ever questions American resolve,” Bolton said when endorsing Romney. “John’s wisdom, clarity and courage are qualities that should typify our foreign policy,” Romney responded.

Romney incorrectly sees Muslim fundamentalism as all one thing, as though in Christianity you lumped Mormons, Evangelicals, ultramontane Catholics, and Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army all together and accused them of working jointly for global political rule by the Pope. Romney wants to Fight Whole Muslim World, not Concentrate on Bin Laden | Juan Cole

Obama Whomps Romney in 2012's Campaign Cash Grab (So Far) | Mother Jones

Mitt Romney has at last vanquished his zombie opponents and locked up the Republican presidential nomination. Polls show Romney eating away at President Obama’s lead in a head-to-head match-up, now at 3.3 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics’ polling average. When it comes to the campaign cash fight, however, Obama is trouncing Romney, as new fundraising numbers from the first months of 2012 make clear.

Here’s the most eye-popping stat: By the end of March, Obama’s re-election effort had ten times more money in the bank than Romney’s campaign, $104.1 million to $10.1 million. Looking at the entire 2012 campaign, Obama’s haul is now at $196.6 million, while Romney’s is at $88.7 million. Below, we’ve visualized the January-to-March fundraising totals for the Obama and Romney campaigns, the Democratic and Republican National Committees, and a handful of key super-PACs. One takeaway: Democrats may be dominating the traditional campaign and party cash grab, but GOPers, led by Karl Rove, are dominating the outside money battle.

This was the beauty of Romney’s racket. Even if he killed a company—and he tended to kill them fairly often—he still made out, leaving others to take the hit. On the campaign trail, Romney describes his work at Bain as resurrecting distressed companies. In this version, he’s the white knight lifting troubled firms from the precipice of failure. Not true. Mitt Romney, American Parasite | Village Voice

Romney asks GOP delegates to sign pledge, but some refuse

sarahlee310:

Members of the Republican National Committee gathering in Arizona were invited to meet with Mitt Romney in private Friday and have their pictures taken with the presumptive GOP nominee, but there was a price of admission: loyalty. RNC members and state GOP chairmen were welcomed into the private reception only after signing a form pledging to support Romney as a delegate to the national convention in Tampa.

[…]

All three members of Iowa’s conservative RNC delegation – party chairman A.J. Spiker and committee members Steve Scheffler and Kim Lehman – attempted to enter the reception but were rebuffed after refusing to sign the delegate pledge.

The dispute became heated in the hallway outside, with the Iowans demanding to know why they had to sign a form to get their picture taken with the former Massachusetts governor.

Several of Romney’s deputies on the committee assured the trio that they could keep their support a secret by checking the appropriate box, but they refused to do so.

What is it with Republicans and pledges?  They don’t trust each other, but ask us to trust them.

Private equity companies like Bain rarely buy anything but profitable firms for one compelling reason: The patient must be healthy enough to be force-fed all that debt. So it’s something of a misnomer for Republican opponents to slur him as a ‘vulture capitalist.’ ‘Romney is not a vulture capitalist, as Rick Perry says, since vultures eat dead carcasses,’ notes Josh Kosman, who has written about the private equity business for 15 years. He’s ‘more of a parasitic capitalist, since he destroys profitable businesses.’ Mitt Romney, American Parasite | Village Voice