Friday, April 20, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
In the midst of that 1994 campaign, one of Romney's companies, American Pad & Paper, bought a plant in Marion, Indiana. At the time, it was prosperous enough to be running three shifts.
Bain's first move was to fire all 258 workers, then invite them to reapply for their jobs at lower wages and a 50 percent cut in health care benefits.
"They came in and said, 'You're all fired,'" employee Randy Johnson told the Los Angeles Times. "'If you want to work for us, here's an application.' We had insurance until the end of the week. That was it. It was brutal."
But instead of reapplying, the workers went on strike. They also decided the good people of Massachusetts should know what kind of man wanted to be their senator. Suddenly, Indiana accents were showing up in Kennedy TV ads, offering tales of Romney's villainy. He was sketched as a corporate Lucifer, one who wouldn't blink at crushing little people if it meant prettying his portfolio.
Needless to say, this wasn't a proper leading man's role for a labor state like Massachusetts. Taking just 41 percent of the vote, Romney was pounded in the election. Meanwhile, the Marion plant closed just six months after Bain's purchase. The jobs were shipped to Mexico.
Curiously, Romney had been touting himself as a job creator and a savvy businessman, yet as Kotz points out, all Romney ever did was take already-profitable companies and blindly stab at making them more profitable.
In fairness to Romney, the article does point to a few successes he achieved in his tenure at Bain, but Romney created not one job at any company that he personally managed, and the firms he had been touting, like Staples, went on hiring sprees after Romney left to run the Salt Lake City Olympics in 1999.
Which, by the way, was rocked by an huge bribery scandal, but that was why Mitt was brought on board.
Mostly, the companies Bain purchased were uniformly more profitable afterwards...for Romney.
The devastation left in the wake of Bain under Romney is staggering: the Associated Press analyzed some 45 deals Romney was directly involved with in his first decade at Bain and found 4,000 workers laid off, but this figure does not take into account plant and store closings, and bankruptcies.
The Wall Street Journal did an even deeper analysis of 77 investments Bain made under Romney and discovered that one in three formerly profitable companies suffered financial troubles, and 20% ended up in bankruptcy court.
Armco Steel of Kansas City, MO, is illustrative here:
Romney purchased Armco with just $8 million down and borrowed the rest of the $75 million price tag. Then he issued bonds—basically IOUs—to borrow even more to pay himself and his investors $36 million.
Within a year, he'd already made four times his initial investment while barely lifting a finger. But he'd also run up a staggering $378 million in debt on GSI's tab.
[...]Yet the smartest guys in the room thought they could run the plant better than the people setting production records.
It would take a few more years of bleeding, but GSI eventually fell to bankruptcy.
The Kansas City mill closed for good; 750 people lost their jobs. Worse, Romney had shorted their pension fund by $44 million. The feds were forced to cover the difference, while workers saw their benefits slashed in bankruptcy court.
So as not to risk further copyright infringement, I urge you to click through and read the entire article. It is a primer on modern American economics.
What this all points out is what is summed up in Romney's infamous "Seamus" story: a man so obsessed with efficiency and profit that he can blindly and blitheringly ignore the human element, and will go about fixing what ain't broke.
In effect, what Romney has done is relive the Bush administration but writ large: taking a healthy situation (we were running a large surplus at the end of the Clinton years) and run it into the ground at the expense of the backbone of the nation (or company) while rewarding his pay-grade cronies.
Is this really what we want to go back to?
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Obama turned his call for middle-income tax breaks into law within a month of taking office, incorporating a $400-a-person tax credit for workers into the 2009 stimulus law. In late 2010, with the economy still weak and Republicans gaining political clout, Obama agreed to an $858 billion tax cut that extended all of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for two years.
"The tax policy has been substantially in the conservative direction whereas the rhetoric has gone in the exact opposite direction," said Don Susswein, a tax aide to former Republican Senator Bob Dole who said he supported Obama in 2008.
[...] "The tax system is not hugely different from what it was in 2008," said Leonard Burman, a professor at Syracuse University in New York who worked in the Treasury Department under President Bill Clinton. "The tax system is still too complicated, still unfair and still doesn't raise enough money to pay for the government."
The recession and Obama's tax cuts pushed federal revenue as a share of the economy to a 60-year low. Income tax rates haven't changed. The estate tax affects fewer people and at a lower rate than when Obama took office. Workers' payroll taxes were reduced during 2011 and 2012.
Many of the major tax provisions of the 2010 health law haven't taken effect. Tax credits to help people purchase health insurance begin in 2014 and tax increases on the wages and investment income of the highest earners start in 2013.
In fact, once Obama allows the Bush tax cuts to expire...and he will...the budget deficit miraculously becomes a fraction of what it was, even with healthcare reform. We'll have a fairer tax system, more revenue for the government to pay its bills and service the existing debt, and after Afghanistan concludes, we could conceivably run a surplus, something Bush never did even though he cheated by running two wars "off the books," a stunt Obama has been forthright enough not to try to pull.
Indeed, all we need is a little economic growth that provides jobs for the middle class again, and particularly our young. Employment levels for the 18-24 age group in America is about 54%, the lowest it has ever been, lower even than during the Vietnam era draft. College attendance probably accounts for another 5%, so the total percentage of our first time working pool that are currently un- or underemployed is about 40%.
And then people wonder why Occupy Wall Street is so pervasive and so angry.
Thomas famously boycotted his team's visit to the White House in January after last year's Stanley Cup victory, in protest at Barack Obama's stewardship of the federal government.
But he could not avoid him when he took to the ice Monday at Verizon Center after the home crowd plastered the boards with images of Obama's head and donned masks with the President's face.
Monday, April 16, 2012
Only around 210,000 taxpayers — a bit over 1 of every 1,000 — would face higher federal taxes if the measure were enacted, according to an estimate by one respected bipartisan research group.
In addition, while Republicans say the plan would be a job killer, only a small proportion of businesses would potentially be subject to the tax, according to data from a 2011 Treasury Department study. These firms make disproportionately large amounts of money, but many of them don't employ any workers.
Which if you think about it makes sense: 95% of jobs created in America are created by small businesses and 90% of those jobs are created by firms whose owners earn less than $50,000 from their companies.
30% does not seem like a whole lot to pay in order to enjoy the fruits of the freest country on the planet.
President Barack Obama came to Colombia seeking to erase an image of the U.S. in Latin America as overassertive Yankees who exploit the region at will. He left with the stereotype reinforced.
The sixth Summit of the Americas that concluded yesterday in the Caribbean city of Cartagena was supposed to focus on trade in the Western Hemisphere. Instead, 11 U.S. Secret Service agents became the center of attention after they were sent home for allegations of misconduct involving a prostitute.
The agents’ behavior was an embarrassment for Obama, obscuring what should have been an opportunity to trumpet a free-trade agreement with host Colombia and expanding trade to fast-growing economies like Brazil, said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas in Washington. Leaders from Latin America also took aim at Obama for the U.S.’s refusal to invite Cuba to the next such regional gathering.
Way to fuck up foreign policy, asshats!
An already-tempestuous meeting-- personified by the absence of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez (nominally for cancer treatments, but also because Raul Castro was not invited), Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa (also in support of Castro), Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega (yes, he's back), and the early departure of Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, humiliated by the lack of support for her appeal on a referendum asking Great Britain to return the Falkland Islands-- could have turned into a modified success with some of the work Obama did with Colombia and Brazil.
Indeed, that a US President could go to Cartagena with civilian protection instead at the head of an armed military incursion force speaks volumes about the progress the United States has made in the region, particularly Obama, trying to persuade South Americans that we aren't just about exploiting their resources and leaving a mess behind.
Mind you, none of this rumoured mess happened with the agents on duty while President Obama was in the country insofar as anyone knows. The scandal occured prior to his arrival and involved members of his advance team.