The wealthy keepers of the Republican Party are in full panic mode since Mitt Romney foolishly put his brand of American capitalism on trial. Yes, he did it to himself. As soon as Romney made the ridiculous claim that his success at becoming rich from leveraged buy outs was his main qualification to be President, it was certain that his even dumber rivals would ask whether Mitt’s brand of capitalism was good for America or instead, “vultures” who were “looting” companies, enriching themselves and firing hapless workers.
Aware of the danger to the rigged game that makes a few fabulously wealthy at the expense of the many, the GOP’s financial elites must now invent fantastic narratives to defend “creative destruction”. This comes at a time when sensible voters are realizing they constitute the destruction part. What Romney helped create and successfully, ruthlessly, exploit was the enrichment of a favored few, including himself, while he and his friends became indifferent to the destruction of the middle class and American labor.
Of course, the questions Mitt himself raised are exactly what the country should be debating. After Wall Street’s self delusion and greed tanked the economy, throwing millions out of work and into fraud-laden foreclosures, the number one economic issue of our times should be whether the malefactors of wealth through financial engineering should be allowed anywhere near governmental power over the economy. Anything but a resounding “Are you nuts?!” is preposterous, so the next governance question is how do we exorcise these demons from the body politic.
The malefactors manipulated political influence in successive administrations via the heavily bribed corporate wings of both parties to bail themselves out with zero accountability. That they show little remorse and only token concern for their millions of victims only amplifies the issue’s primacy.
However he may resemble Gordon Gekko, you would think a man as clever or cynical as Romney would realize his becoming rich by putting corporate profits ahead of people while exacerbating the shameful disparity in income and wealth could become an automatic disqualification to lead a nation desperate to move in a different direction. But of course with enormous greed come enormous ego and equally enormous indifference to those who get strapped to the roof of the Mitt family wagon. As we watch Mitt-like GOP governors extend the destruction, it’s clear American labor is now Mitt’s dog.
It’s both amusing and appalling to hear Romney try to change the subject. He first whined that his rivals were attacking free enterprise or capitalism itself, and that would be “a terrible mistake for the party [no kidding!] and the country [hardly].” Next he hid by saying this was just like Obama bailing out the auto industry, which of course Mitt had opposed. Even the Obama people could distinguish between actions designed solely to profit investors and those intended to save a strategically important American industry, its jobs and the economy. Private interests are not the same as public interests, but that’s what we should be clarifying this election. Too bad neither party seems to grasp this.
There’s a spate of right wing op-eds today asking whether Romney’s business experience qualifies him to be President. At WaPo, Robert Samuelson starts his column with that question, but then he ducks the answer when the examples from the Mitt era at Bain suggest it might not even have been a net good for business. Oh, my. So he just stops writing.
The Times David Brooks is even more embarrassed by the question and the evidence that drives the answer, so he too ducks. He diverts our attention by claiming that what we really need is not so much the CEO in politics but a President from the aristocratic class who looks to [Brooks'] God for guidance on how to govern America. I thought that was what Mitt and most of the GOP contenders were claiming for themselves. If only a just goddess actually used Zeus’ thunderbolts . . .
That leaves us with Paul Krugman’s dismissal in America is not a corporation.
But what really struck me was how Mr. Romney characterized President Obama’s actions: “He did it to try to save the business.” No, he didn’t; he did it to save the industry, and thereby to save jobs that would otherwise have been lost, deepening America’s slump. Does Mr. Romney understand the distinction?
America certainly needs better economic policies than it has right now — and while most of the blame for poor policies belongs to Republicans and their scorched-earth opposition to anything constructive, the president has made some important mistakes. But we’re not going to get better policies if the man sitting in the Oval Office next year sees his job as being that of engineering a leveraged buyout of America Inc.
More from the LA Times: Private Equity: Bad Rep, but Is it Deserved?