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.

My Time to Waste