Romney’s Choice of Ryan

I feel like I have read sev­er­al times on lib­er­al blogs that Rom­ney now has to car­ry Ryan’s bag­gage as well as his own. I do not think so.

The Ryan pick does indi­cate that Rom­ney was not com­plete­ly con­fi­dent of enthu­si­as­tic sup­port from his base (which amounts to the Tea Par­ty). Choos­ing Ryan makes the base feel a lot bet­ter about Romney.

To win the gen­er­al, Rom­ney has to move to the cen­ter at least some dis­tance, but with­out a Tea Par­ty approved run­ning mate, he could not afford to do that.

Back to the bag­gage. My mem­o­ry is that when the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date picks a run­ning mate, it is the run­ning mate that must con­form to the can­di­date’s posi­tions. Ryan’s job is to take Rom­ney’s con­ser­v­a­tive mes­sage to the base while Rom­ney mod­er­ates him­self for the gen­er­al electorate.

Democ­rats will do every­thing they can to hang Ryan’s pre­vi­ous posi­tions around Rom­ney’s neck. Rom­ney’s long record of being on every which side of every issue will make that a lot eas­i­er. But any­where where Rom­ney’s con­ser­v­a­tive posi­tion dif­fers from Ryan’s, we can expect that Ryan will be talk­ing up Rom­ney’s posi­tion, not his own.

I still believe that in the end, Oba­ma wins with a sol­id margin.

UPDATE: “Well, first of all, Con­gress­man Ryan has joined my cam­paign and his cam­paign is my cam­paign now. And we’re on the exact­ly the same page,” …the page being Rom­ney’s page, not Ryan’s.

Alternate Future Presidential Press Conference

Reporter: Mr. Pres­i­dent!!! Mr. President!!!

Pres­i­dent Rom­ney: What? Oh, right! What is your question?

Reporter: Sir, you are the duly elect­ed Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States, correct?

Pres­i­dent Rom­ney: Yes, that is correct.

Reporter: And that means you are also the Com­man­der in Chief, right?

Pres­i­dent Rom­ney: Yes, that is cor­rect, the Con­sti­tu­tion itself makes it so.

Reporter: And you draw a salary as Pres­i­dent and Com­man­der in Chief?

Pres­i­dent Rom­ney: Why, yes. I believe there is a statute to that effect.

Reporter: Very good, sir. Giv­en that, could you please explain why the US mil­i­tary has attacked Iran?

Pres­i­dent Rom­ney: Oh! I see your con­fu­sion. No, at the time that attack took place, the First Lady and I were doing a tour of our man­sions, we do not like to leave them to the staff for too long with­out check­ing up on them. You nev­er know when the oppor­tu­ni­ty to fire staff will arise!

So, you see, I was on a kind of sab­bat­i­cal from the Pres­i­den­cy when the attack took place. I can­not be held respon­si­ble for the actions of the peo­ple I left in charge while I was away.

Next ques­tion, please

Update: I added the line “You nev­er know when the oppor­tu­ni­ty to fire staff will arise!”

Back When Houses Had Front Porches

Once upon a time, most­ly in the late 19th cen­tu­ry, a suc­cess­ful cam­paign strat­e­gy was a front porch cam­paign where the can­di­date most­ly stayed home and accept­ed vis­i­tors and gave speech­es to groups who showed up.

Giv­en how things are going for Mitt Rom­ney, maybe he needs to adopt a front porch strat­e­gy. My mon­ey says that Rom­ney has a front porch.

Romney’s Bain, Part 3

There is an inter­est­ing tid­bit in an arti­cle from The Boston Globe titled “The Mak­ing of Mitt Rom­ney”. The arti­cle is not avail­able free, but there is an excerpt at Mass Resis­tance.

Through Ampad, Bain bought sev­er­al oth­er office sup­ply mak­ers, bor­row­ing heav­i­ly each time. By 1999, Ampad’s debt reached near­ly $400 mil­lion, up from $11 mil­lion in 1993, accord­ing to gov­ern­ment filings.

Sales grew, too — for a while. But by the late 1990s, for­eign com­pe­ti­tion and increased buy­ing pow­er by super­stores like Bain-fund­ed Sta­ples sliced Ampad’s revenues.

So, one of Bain’s invest­ments con­tributed to the bank­rupt­cy of anoth­er of Bain’s invest­ments. For all I know, that was smart busi­ness, but it strikes me as kind of dumb. It con­sti­tutes a fail­ure on the part of Bain to rec­og­nize that con­se­quences of a trend that Bain helped put into motion.

I can imag­ine a conversation:

We have cre­at­ed a sit­u­a­tion where we can use our buy­ing pow­er to force man­u­fac­tur­ers to sell us their prod­ucts at low­er prices.”

Hey, this would be a great time to get into man­u­fac­tur­ing those products!”

Romney’s Bain, Part 2

Any effort at look­ing at what Bain Cap­i­tal did while Mitt Rom­ney was in charge will turn up some info on the paper prod­uct plant in Mar­i­on, Indi­ana that Bain owned Ampad acquired in 1994. I have not put a lot of effort into find­ing more details, so it may be this sto­ry is already on the inter­net some­where. Well, now it is here too.

Before typ­ing this up, I had a chat with a friend of mine (no lib­er­al, he!) who lives in Mar­i­on, reads the paper, and has always seemed to have his ear to the ground to ver­i­fy my ver­sion of events is rea­son­ably accurate.

I was liv­ing in Mar­i­on in 1994. I got the Mar­i­on Chron­i­cle Tri­bune (no lib­er­al, it!) every day and I read it. Most of what I know is from what I read in that paper.

The local SCM plant was pur­chased by Ampad. Accord­ing to this time­line, it was a year before all the employ­ees were let go. They were then allowed to apply to get their jobs back. Almost all of them did apply and did get their jobs back. My friend remem­bers that the wage scale was cut 25% and all senior­i­ty was lost.

Some peri­od of time passed by, I’m guess­ing a month or so (but maybe just a few days…). The com­pa­ny announced changes in the work rules. The employ­ees grum­bled but kept work­ing. This hap­pened a few times (three, four?). The last time, rules were insti­tut­ed to restrict bath­room visits.

The work­ers final­ly went out on strike. They pick­et­ed the plant for a peri­od of time (I think a cou­ple of weeks, maybe a month). Then the com­pa­ny announced the plant was clos­ing and moved the equip­ment out. The jobs were gone.

I am per­fect­ly will­ing to admit that some­times com­pa­nies clos­ing plants is, in the long run, a good thing. It might not ever be for the local com­mu­ni­ty, but it can be for the com­pa­ny’s over­all health. These events are some­times nec­es­sary evils.

But what Bain did in Mar­i­on was a bit above and beyond the call of duty. Even at the time, I felt it was obvi­ous that the plant was pur­chased for the pur­pose of clos­ing it. But some­one thought “Instead of just clos­ing this plant, let’s see what we can squeeze out of it first.” The employ­ees were not just let go, they were abused to see what it would take for them to strike.

My mem­o­ry is that the paper report­ed a “no com­ment” from Bain Cap­i­tal on at least a few occa­sions. Maybe there is “anoth­er side to the sto­ry,” but Bain had no inter­est in telling that story.

Income Inequality is Not the Problem

Now Mitt Rom­ney is get­ting a lot of crit­i­cism for say­ing that income inequal­i­ty should be dis­cussed in “qui­et rooms” instead of in our pub­lic debates. Mitt deserves this crit­i­cism. It is absurd to say this does not belong in the pub­lic debate.

Appar­ent­ly, the Oba­ma re-elec­tion cam­paign is going to talk about income inequal­i­ty a lot. They may or may not be talk­ing about it correctly.

Here is a chart I stole from TPM:

The chart shows that the prob­lem is not income inequal­i­ty. The prob­lem is income growth inequal­i­ty. From 1947 to 1979, all income groups saw rough­ly equal per­cent­age growths in their incomes. This still results in an increase in income inequal­i­ty. If you are mak­ing one mil­lion dol­lars, a 2.5% increase is $25,000. If you are mak­ing $25,000, a 2.5% increase is only $625. But that’s OK.

Income inequal­i­ty, in and of itself, is not the prob­lem. In fact, it is an impor­tant fea­ture of our eco­nom­ic sys­tem. Incen­tive does mat­ter. Yes, many of the wealthy got that way by sheer luck or hap­pen­stance or acci­dent of birth. But I’m bet­ting (will­ing to believe…willing to delude myself…too lazy to research it) most of them achieved their wealth through hard work that con­tributed pos­i­tive­ly to the over­all econ­o­my and that most of them did so because of the incen­tive of wealth (though I think many just were hav­ing fun and the wealth was sim­ply bonus).

The prob­lem is income growth inequal­i­ty. There is going to be a lot of dis­con­tent when the wealth­i­est con­tin­ue to get even rich­er while the bulk of the pop­u­la­tion is tread­ing water (espe­cial­ly rel­a­tive to infla­tion) or get­ting poorer.

Note that the wealthy did bet­ter when every­one did better.

Romney’s Bain, Part 1

It seems like all the news is talk­ing about what Rom­ney did at Bain Cap­i­tal and whether it was good for the econ­o­my or not.

I feel like I have a lot of dif­fer­ent things to say about this, but if I try to put them all in one post, well, it would prob­a­bly nev­er get finished.

So to begin with, some­thing simple.

Newt Gin­grich has late­ly decid­ed that what Mitt did at Bain was bad for the coun­try. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ing giv­en that just a few weeks before, Newt was tak­ing cred­it for help­ing Rom­ney get rich.

I was part of (the late Rep.) Jack Kem­p’s lit­tle cabal of sup­ply-siders who, large­ly by help­ing con­vince (Pres­i­dent Ronald) Rea­gan and then work­ing with Rea­gan, pro­found­ly changed the entire tra­jec­to­ry of the Amer­i­can econ­o­my in the nine­teen-eight­ies,” Gin­grich said. “You could make the argu­ment that I helped Mitt Rom­ney get rich because I helped pass the legislation.”

So there it is, Newt flip flop­ping about the mas­ter of flip flopping.

Newt Jumps Onto Romney’s Anti-Jobs Bus

Mitt Rom­ney’s suc­cess in the pri­vate sec­tor was at Bain Cap­i­tal where he made lots of mon­ey by buy­ing and break­ing up com­pa­nies, destroy­ing jobs in the process. Now Newt wants us to know that he was part of the effort to change the laws to allow Mitt to do what he did.

So nei­ther of them care a whit about jobs.

Romney’s Mistake?

So, Mitt Rom­ney has

com­pared the cur­rent anti-Wall Street protests to “class warfare.”

This is inter­est­ing. If Oba­ma is vul­ner­a­ble next fall, it will be be due to the econ­o­my. I ful­ly expect that the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee will talk of lit­tle else.

I also expect the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee to be Mitt Romney.

All those peo­ple protest­ing Wall Street would not be there if the econ­o­my was hum­ming along and unem­ploy­ment was five percent.

Rom­ney has now gone on the record of say­ing that peo­ple who want the econ­o­my to improve are con­duct­ing class war­fare. That does not strike me as the best way to woo the votes of those unhap­py about the economy.